Hybrid and Plug-In Electric Vehicle Conversions

Related Information

A conventional vehicle can be converted to a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV), a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), or an all-electric vehicle (EV). And an HEV can be converted to a PHEV or EV. Such conversions provide options beyond what is available from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Certified installers can economically and reliably convert many heavy-duty vehicles to operate on electricity alone or to improve the efficiency of conventional vehicle designs.

Systems used for converting vehicles to HEVs and PHEVs require U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification. See the Conversions page for information on regulations and standards that apply to all alternative fuel and advanced vehicle conversions.

Vehicles that have a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 10,000 pounds, use more than 48 volts of electricity, and have a maximum speed greater than 25 miles per hour must meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 305, Electric Powered Vehicles: Electrolyte Spillage and Electrical Shock Prevention.

Hybrid Electric Vehicle Conversions

Converting a conventional vehicle to an HEV can be an attractive option for fleets seeking to increase fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

Some companies perform conversions on in-service fleet vehicles. If a hybrid system will be installed on an in-service vehicle, that vehicle must have enough payload capacity to allow for the added weight and space requirements of the hybrid system components. In some cases, conversions can affect the vehicle's factory warranty. HEV conversions require certification from EPA or California Air Resources Board (CARB).

XL Fleet is one manufacturer that offers an HEV conversion system.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Conversions

HEVs can be converted to PHEVs by adding additional battery capacity and on-board charging equipment. Some converted vehicles can achieve up to 100 miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent (MPGe) until the auxiliary battery is exhausted, at which point the vehicle acts like an HEV.

In some cases, conversions can affect the vehicle's factory warranty. PHEV conversions require certification from EPA or CARB.

All-Electric Vehicle Conversions

A vehicle with an internal combustion engine can be converted to an EV by completely removing the engine and adding a battery pack, one or more electric motors, high-voltage cables, and instrumentation. To maximize EV driving range, such conversions are often performed on smaller, lighter-weight vehicles. Careful consideration should be given to the space available to package added batteries and electric motors, along with the ability of the original chassis to support the added weight and placement of those components while still meeting requirements for emissions and crashworthiness.

Neither EPA nor CARB require that EV conversions be certified, as long as the conversion does not add a device that produces fuel combustion emissions.