SUVs and electric vehicles

by Pat
(Maple, Ontario, Canada)

Can SUVs (i.e. Mazda Tribute '06) be fitted with an electric motor and what would be the approximate cost of such an overhaul?

Hi, Pat -

I've heard it said that BIG electric car conversions can sometimes be a little like housework; they'll expand to suck up all your available resources if you let them. If you've got a million dollars, your conversion will cost a million and one.

Why are giant, heavy conversions generally frowned upon around here? It takes more motor and more battery to move all that weight, and eventually saving money by using the donor car you happen to have (that big SUV) rather than going out and getting something lighter tends to cost more money than it saves.

Of course you can convert anything that rolls. Question is, are you going to be happy with the result? I guess if I had a late-model SUV, I'd be thinking "hybrid conversion". The NetGain EMIS retrofit is about 7k, last time I checked.

Okay, sorry, I haven't answered your questions. Yes, and upward of 25k.


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Hybrid SUV: Making the connection

by Lundy

I want to convert my Toyota SUV to be an electric assist hybrid. How do you make the connection between the motor and the new drive train?

Hi, Lundy -
If you want electric assist to make a hybrid SUV from your Toyota, you've got to have a computer interface, as far as I know. Have you seen NetGain's EMIS? I think it's pretty much the same idea you're looking at.


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Electric hybrid S-10 Blazer

by Jim Cannon
(Bethesda, MD)

Since my 1993 S10 Blazer has four wheel drive, I am thinking about a hybrid where the drive shaft is disconnected and the rear wheels are driven by an electric motor housed in the rear cargo area along with batteries.

Admittedly this would require dual controls, but would also allow the engine to idle and maintain battery charge, as well as allow for front wheel drive anytime via original gas engine.


Hi, Jim -

Just a couple; )

First, go to the EVDL with your question; there are a lot smarter guys than me over there.

Second, your Blazer is controlled by computers, as far as I know. How are you going to convince the computers to get with your program?

Third, go for it.
Those who say it can't be done are being left in the dust by those who didn't get the memo; )


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Chevrolet Suburban Hybrid

by Mark
(Vancouver, WA)

Convert a Suburban to a Plug-in Hybrid?

Convert a Suburban to a Plug-in Hybrid?

I was thinking about attaching an electric motor to the driveshaft of my 2 wheel drive, 3/4 ton 454 Suburban. The truck eats gas by nature of course...but what if I could drive it at idle pretty much all of the time?

With an updated charging system, a couple of steering wheel controls tied to the electric motor system for brake and acceleration coupled with a gas pedal and brake pedal override for the gas engine and wheel brakes, I could potentially use the electric motor to accelerate, brake, and drive at constant speed without ever pushing the gas pedal.
All the while the gas engine charging system is charging the batteries.

If I run into a situation where I need to accelerate quicker than what the electric motor would provide, I simply press the gas pedal. Same for the brakes. What fundamental issues with physics am I missing with this logic?

Hi, Mark -
If I'm understanding you right...

Toyota already thought of this; they patented it, called it "synergy drive", and put it in their Prius.
It takes a computer to make it work smoothly, though. Are you thinking of going computerless?

I don't think you're missing any laws of physics. (May be expensive, though.)

An electric motor company called NetGain has come up with a nifty way to take a gas-guzzler such as your Suburban and give it an electric assist, a lot like you're describing - and dramatically improving the gas mileage.
You can read my interview with them here.


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