With the advent of new flagship electric vehicles like the Tesla Model 3, there is now a growing market for custom electric cars. Whether it is a converted combustion engine model or a fresh-off-the-line electric, there are now many ways to get your hands on an electric vehicle personalized just for you.
Have you ever dreamed of hooking up a pristine electric motor in your old clunker? Maybe you have thought about upgrading that classic car you have sitting idle in your garage? Well, get ready to start your engines. Or, motor, at least.
It is a plain fact that the retro cars from the midcentury were not built with today’s conditions in mind. Gasoline is no longer cheap, and carbon emissions were never even a consideration for the manufacturers of old. This makes older rides the perfect choice for building custom electric cars. From WWII-era Volkswagen Beetles to classic Chevy pickups, just about anything can be turned into a zippy electric vehicle.
But maybe all the elbow grease involved in the conversion process isn’t for you? If that is the case, then you can still find countless models of brand new electric cars straight from the dealership. From the Nissan Leaf to the hottest new Teslas, there are now endless custom electrics to choose from straight off the lot.
Getting a bit overwhelmed? No need to worry, because we have your back. Check out our in-depth guide below to find out all there is to know about custom electric cars, personalized hybrids, and the most popular old conversion models.
The Top Sellers
Today, there are custom electric cars for sale in numbers that far exceed what was thought possible only 10 short years ago. In the United States alone, there are already nearly a million all-electric vehicles cruising the streets every day. And when it comes to finding your own perfect custom electric car, you should always begin by looking at the best sellers.
Check out our quick list below to find out what’s hot and what’s not in the world of custom and customizable electric vehicles on the market in 2018.
Until the Tesla Model 3 starts ramping up production, you can expect the Nissan Leaf to remain the go-to electric car for maximizing range and value. This compact hatchback has sold 114,000 units in the United States alone, where it finds its strongest market. Globally, sales have nearly reached 250,000 units since 2010.
The clear frontrunner in the race to supplant the Nissan Leaf as the top plug-in electric is the Chevrolet Volt. And the numbers don’t hide the truth, as the Volt has racked up over 135,000 sales since it launched in 2011.
Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S is a true innovator. As Tesla’s flagship zero-emission vehicle, the Model S shines a light on the future of the electric vehicle industry. It’s sleek, stylish, and has the luxury aesthetic that most other custom electrics currently lack. To date, the Model S has sold over 100,000 units worldwide.
Sadly, the Toyota Prius is no longer being manufactured. However, you can still find loads of these speedy hybrid hatchbacks on the secondary market. Within its 3 years of production, the Prius sold over 42,000 units and has become an emblem of the modern hybrid-electric car.
These snazzy rides are Ford’s answer to the Volt. They come in two main form factors: the C-Max Energi, which debuted in 2012, and the higher-end Fusion Energi which came out the following year. To date, the Fusion has sold over 42,000 units while the C-Max hybrid has sold just over 32,000.
DIY Customizing Your Electric Car
Each of the best sellers listed above come loaded with customizable options and available upgrades. And while this is awesome, for a truly custom electric car you will need to get the job done yourself.
This means popping open the hood and getting down to business on that old junker you have laying around. Or maybe you want to spark new life into that classic Porsche you take out on those special occasions? No matter your circumstance, the electric car conversion process is easier and more affordable than you may think.
Don’t get us wrong, turning a retro car into a customized electric car is no walk in the park. But it is an achievable weekend project for even beginner car hobbyists. The process requires the removal of the internal combustion engine and replacing it with an electric motor that is compatible with the existing transmission.
Sounds easy, right? Well it certainly can be if you pick up a premade conversion kit. Although these take away some of the “custom” feel to a hand-picked conversion model, buying a kit can drastically simplify the process. For a markup, these kits include everything you need to transform your old car into a short-range hybrid that feels like new again.
We recommend checking out some of the premium conversion kits being sold online. Our favorites are those offered by Canadian Electric Vehicles Ltd. and EV West. Just remember to buy a kit that is compatible with your base model that you intend to convert, as some kits won’t work when installed in the wrong car.
Want to find out more about converting your old gas guzzler into a silent, smooth-riding electric? The experts over at EV4U offer a 3-day hands-on conversion workshop that offers detailed lessons on every aspect of the process. Since gas-to-electric conversion is a technical and often time-consuming project, we can’t recommend the workshop enough.
Not ready to give up on gasoline just yet? Luckily for you, these days it is easier to get into a custom hybrid car than ever before. Here are some of our favorite hybrid-electric cars on the market that are fully customizable and upgradable.
Voted by Kelley Blue Book as the “Best Buy of 2018” for hybrid cars, the 2018 Honda Clarity is a true pleasure to drive. With its exclusive hydrogen fuel cell battery technology, the Clarity sets a new standard for hybrid vehicles. And with a starting price of $34,290 there is lots of room for decking it out in upgrades.
With its introduction in 2015, the Honda Accord has become a modern classic among full-size hybrid vehicles. With plenty of room in the trunk and lots of passenger seating space, the Accord is an excellent choice for hybrid vehicle enthusiasts that want to customize their ride.
Beginning in 2012, the Toyota Camry has positioned itself as a budget-friendly hybrid that seamlessly transitions from gasoline to battery power without sacrificing performance. While its lackluster range ultimately holds this car back from being a true top contender, the loads of standard features and premium upgrades make the Camry a stellar hybrid option.
When Ford named their hybrid vehicle the “Fusion”, they were not kidding around. This vehicle smoothly fuses the electric and gas-powered driving experience so that you can hardly tell you are driving a hybrid vehicle at all. And with one of the top voice-control infotainment systems on the market, the Fusion is a great choice for those looking for a high-tech everyday drive.
If hybrid models aren’t for you, you might be interested in picking up an all-electric vehicle. Below, we’ve listed the best customizable electric cars on the market today.
The Tesla Model 3
With the first model rolling off the production line in July 2017, the Tesla Model 3 is slated to be the first of the “next generation” all-electric vehicles. And the hype speaks for itself, as over 450,000 reservations were issued within its first month of production alone.
Plus, the Model 3 comes bundled with self-driving features and a minimalist interior that leaves plenty of room for customizability and personalization. Expect the Model 3 to become the top-selling electric vehicle in 2018-2019.
While not having the luxury appeal of the Tesla Model 3, the BMW i3 is a boxy hatchback that is focused more on maximizing range and value than looks alone. Loaded with cutting edge re-charging technology, the i3 utilizes both AC and DC electrical systems to give you a feel charge in just 45 minutes. Best of all, you can find many customizable parts and accessories for the BMW i3 on CARiD.
The Citroen C-Zero is quickly positioning itself as the top all-electric vehicle in the United Kingdom. While this compact car typically flies under the radar among North American audiences, it deserves an honorable mention as a fast-charging, budget-brand alternative to its flashy BMW and Tesla competitors.