U of C students want to convert old cars to electric cars without breaking the bank

A group of students from the University of Calgary are working on new technologies to convert gasoline vehicles to electric vehicles at an affordable price.

Ratik Kapoor, an electrical and computer engineering student at the University of Calgary, is the founder of the Relectric Car Team.

“A lot of my friends, we got together and we were like, hey, these electric cars are awesome, but we really can’t afford one right now, so what can we do to bring us electric cars? and for Everyone? ” Kapoor said The stretch.

The group is currently working on the conversion of a 1966 Volvo P220, donated by Jim Steil of Go Electric.

Kapoor said that an older manual car is easier to convert than newer computer-driven models.

“With new cars it’s difficult because they have so many sensors and everything is technological,” he said. “So we want to take the ‘ease’ of converting an old car and also make it applicable to converting a new car. So we build our own sensors, our own computers, and we tie it all together into a personalized infotainment system. “

He said there are a few steps to converting a gasoline vehicle to an electric vehicle. The first is to remove the old engine and gas tank. Next, make an adapter from the electric motor that will plug into the original transmission of a manual car.

“It will allow you to take electrical energy or power from the engine and then bring it to your wheels through your original transmission, which is working very well,” Kapoor said.

A group of electrical engineering students from the University of Calgary are working on converting a 1966 Volvo from gas to electricity. (Wilson Tang)

The Volvo now has batteries stored in the old gas tank and spare tire area.

Kapoor said the cost to convert their current project is between $ 30,000 and $ 40,000, and their goal is to reduce that cost to $ 10,000.

“I think what holds a lot of us back is just the cost of the batteries,” he said. “We’re looking more at engine control… like all those parts that cost several thousand dollars for a good one – how do we lower the price while still maintaining the same quality? ”

There are around 50 students working on the project at U of C, according to Kapoor, around 10 on the mechanical team, 10 on the electrical team, 10 on software, as well as a sales team and geomatics.

They plan to offer their findings to the world.

“We try to make everything we do open source,” Kapoor said. “Take whatever technology we make, whatever developments we make and make it available to the public. So it’s easier and more accessible for anyone to take their old car and even for a mechanic or whatever. thing to use our designs and go ahead and convert it. “

The group plans to return to work soon after being halted by the pandemic.

“We ditched the engine just before the school went live… so things have stagnated since then,” Kapoor said. “But we hope to come back here very soon – and then I think by the end of the school year or probably around April, we’ll make it work on its own.”

With files from The Homestretch.

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