From the start of Voltage, my goal has been to better understand the process of converting gasoline cars to electric alongside better understanding electric propulsion and vehicles. My first plan was to convert my 1989 Nissan Pao to electric, although it’s still a plan of mine, it may not be the best plan for a first attempt at a conversion. The Pao is a great car that has a ton of character. It deserves a thorough build and frankly, I don’t have the funds to do that right now. But perhaps I could start with a smaller project, with a car that has more parts available for it, one with a manual transmission.
What car is good for an electric vehicle conversion?
A car with ample space for batteries and preferably a manual transmission is best for an electric vehicle conversion.
So I could’ve chosen a Geo Metro. But we’ve gotta do something more fun right? I’ve always admired kei cars, when I first saw a Subaru Sambar Van in person I thought there was no other van that deserved to exist. Since then they’ve always sat in the back of my mind as a car I’d like to get my hands on. More recently I started to actually look into kei vans and learned about the Honda Acty. The Acty was/is a popular kei van that has a fairly large community of enthusiasts surrounding it. The van has a lot to offer, it’s mid/rear wheel drive and comes in 4WD, if you get the Acty Attack you can get one with a locking diff. The Acty is becoming increasingly popular in the United States as more models become available because of the 25-year import law. The Acty was mass produced which means there are ample parts, and it means that they’re fairly cheap.
So an Acty it is. In a separate post I’ll describe the full process of importing a vehicle on your own, which is what I did. But December of last year I wired money to a bank in Japan to purchase my 1993 Blue Honda Acty Van. With a car chosen it was time to start thinking about some of the other important components of a conversion namely a motor.