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California conversion to electric?

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cristina McLean

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Hi everyone,
We have a 2013 Blue Motion Cali which we love. However, we are now concerned about it being powered by diesel. With the current situation in regards to pollution by diesel engines, tax and possible faster depreciation of its financial value, we are wondering whether it is possible to convert the engine to electric. Does anyone know if this can be done on this model?
Many thanks all
 
WelshGas

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Hi everyone,
We have a 2013 Blue Motion Cali which we love. However, we are now concerned about it being powered by diesel. With the current situation in regards to pollution by diesel engines, tax and possible faster depreciation of its financial value, we are wondering whether it is possible to convert the engine to electric. Does anyone know if this can be done on this model?
Many thanks all
it would probably be cheaper to sell the vehicle and buy a tesla and caravan in all honesty.
 
Shane Bennett

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We have a 2013 Blue Motion Cali which we love. However, we are now concerned about it being powered by diesel. With the current situation in regards to pollution by diesel engines, tax and possible faster depreciation of its financial value, we are wondering whether it is possible to convert the engine to electric. Does anyone know if this can be done on this model?

Yeah like @WelshGas says it would be cheaper to buy a Tesla. While the technology is there to do it, you will have to sacrifice something internally to house the batteries. Also unless you have the R&D budget and the tools to do it, it will cost a ton of money for some engineering firm to carryout the work.
 
Bramco

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If you are worried about diesel, trade in for a petrol engine and then trade in again in 4 or 5 or 6 or however many years for the electric version will almost certainly arrive some time.

Must admit I'm tempted given the resale value of our Beach and the hassle in getting vignettes etc. for cities in Germany, France etc.

We also have an '06 plate SAAB convertible which we're hoping will last until Mr Musk brings out the convertible Model 3 - although that might be a big ask, even though I had a previous SAAB 9000 that went to 400k Kms before it died. So who knows we might be able to bridge the gap.
 
Jay586

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Apparently, the Tesla is very popular for camping in the US, seats go to long beds and lots of glass.
 
Digger

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If you look at the latest and best motorhomes all are diesel powered. Does that not say something. Reality is electric vehicles will take many, many years to be viable as regards larger vehicles and no matter what politicians say big businesses eventually win. I wonder if the politicians have any idea of the renewable energy requirements and how to achieve. Some will respond on the forum with assumed facts but every research to date proves the scale to achieve is way beyond current technology.
We seem to be rushing headlong into an unknown future as regards energy. So my decision is enjoy it as it stands for many years and see what the future holds. If you are uncertain don't buy and just hire.
 
owen_h

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I have seen websites (in the US) offering electric conversion to the original splity and bay window VW bus. Most seem big on photos but short on specifics such as range, weight and price.

The Tesla + caravan option might not be easy either though. Dont think the Model S has an available EU type approved towbar option. Not sure about he X or 3.
 
Velma's Dad

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Cristina you might already be aware of this but actually there is already an EV campervan on the market in the UK. It's called the Dalbury-E and is based on the Nissan e-NV200 vbase vehicle so is smaller-format than the Cali. It's been out for a couple of years but I can only assume sales have been slow.

That's probably because its claimed range is only 105 miles - and I assume that's in ideal conditions and if you're prepared to run the battery to practically flat. So not really an option for anything other than very local camping trips or else factoring in multiple half-hour recharging stops along the motorway.

Obviously though, this is just first-generation as a practical concept.
 
Bramco

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Apparently, the Tesla is very popular for camping in the US, seats go to long beds and lots of glass
Yep, apparently the latest in California is to drive out east to the desert or somewhere with few towns and lay back and watch the stars through the roof.

Not sure if you'd reach anywhere without a lot of light pollution in the UK before you needed to get a charge.
 
Meoncoast

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you could fix a horse or 2 to the front
 
sidepod

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Deffo comedy post :pinkbanana
 
sidepod

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In all seriousness the project would be huge and I would guess approx 3-4 times the cost of a new Cali.

You would need completely strip the van inside and out, engine/box/suspension all off. Then when you have a bare shell stare at it for a week scratching your head over the architecture of what you want.
Work out where the drive motors (4off) are going, where inverters/converters will go. Source the motors, design and fabricate mounts for everything.
Size the batteries and access system, probably bespoke batteries. Talk to the bank about a mortgage, one with plenty of zeros on the end.
Think about cabling for the huge AC cables and routes.
Control units and software, back to the bank to increase that mortgage.

Once it's all done then you could set about reworking the van internals around the rest of it. I reccon you'll have just enough space for a single bed.

Maybe in 10-15 years the conversion industry will be up to speed with generic packages available.

Stick with what you have. Forget the planet. Crack on and enjoy.
 
Borris

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Just enjoy your lovely diesel Cali and don't worry.

The pollution created in the manufacture of the parts and batteries required for the conversion alone would probably make the whole project pointless. How many miles a year do you do anyway?

As for depreciation, you have already suffered the biggest drop from new and I doubt if the residuals will be affected that much, if any, by the latest diesel bashing rhetoric. It's a much sought after Cali.

If this issue bothers you enough to consider looking for a new eco friendly replacement vehicle, then its worth giving the following points careful consideration. Whilst vehicle technology is constantly improving, especially when it comes to protecting the environment, if you were to replace your current diesel vehicle, it's my guess that instead of cutting your current pollution footprint, you would actually be increasing it. The manufacture of any new vehicle would involve creating considerable pollution, much much more than the polution involved in your continuing to use your existing Cali.

Further more, if you were to buy a new eco vehicle, what would you do with your current Cali? If you were to keep chickens in it, then no problem but again it's my guess that you would sell it. In which case your eco conscience might feel better but it would still be polluting by just the same amount but with someone else at the helm. If you were to scrap it you would also be creating a great deal of pollution through that process so IMO the answer is to keep your Cali as it is, enjoy it and try not to worry.
 
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GrannyJen

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My next Cali will be a diesel.

Ok, I have a bright yellow vignette on my windscreen for France, will probably pick one up for Germany, might have to think about what I do with my brand new Cali when it comes to 2035 but as it will be about 16-17 years old then I am not going to be too fussed about residuals ... if I could even remember what a Cali was given the age that I would be by then :shocked

Granny's guess for the future:

No one is seriously going to do anything to disrupt diesel traffic until there is a viable alternative.

2020: The T7 will be a hybrid.

2025: All electric will achieve a range of around 300 miles with fantastic new battery technology.

2026: Hydrogen fuel cells will make batteries redundant.

2030: Batteries will be banned as production is too polluting and disposal even more so: To make up for the gap in vehicle capacity the E10 diesel, now producing cleaner exhaust than the exhaled breath of the average human being, will be extended to 2050.
 
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Velma's Dad

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In all seriousness the project would be huge and I would guess approx 3-4 times the cost of a new Cali.

You would need completely strip the van inside and out, engine/box/suspension all off. Then when you have a bare shell stare at it for a week scratching your head over the architecture of what you want.
Work out where the drive motors (4off) are going, where inverters/converters will go. Source the motors, design and fabricate mounts for everything.
Size the batteries and access system, probably bespoke batteries. Talk to the bank about a mortgage, one with plenty of zeros on the end.
Think about cabling for the huge AC cables and routes.
Control units and software, back to the bank to increase that mortgage.

Once it's all done then you could set about reworking the van internals around the rest of it. I reccon you'll have just enough space for a single bed.

Any chance of making it solar powered? :Grin
 
Velma's Dad

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Seriously though, if you happen to have a lovingly cherished T2 lying around, then there's at least one UK company that says they'll convert it to an EV for you:
https://evclassics.uk/convert/

£39k to convert it to an EV with a claimed 210 mile range.
 
W

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There's a solar powered bus station in London at Vauxhall by the MI6 building.
It's made of Aluminium that's smelted by electricity, my daughters Physics teacher calculated it would take 3000 years to be 'Carbon neutral' , my view is that electric vehicles carry a greater pollution footprint that modern diesels.
No one seems to mention LPG anymore, I am not a cynic just sceptical.
Enjoy your Cali.
P.S. Their going to demolish the bus station soon, go figure?
 
Velma's Dad

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There's a solar powered bus station in London at Vauxhall by the MI6 building.
It's made of Aluminium that's smelted by electricity, my daughters Physics teacher calculated it would take 3000 years to be 'Carbon neutral' , my view is that electric vehicles carry a greater pollution footprint that modern diesels.
No one seems to mention LPG anymore, I am not a cynic just sceptical.
Enjoy your Cali.
P.S. Their going to demolish the bus station soon, go figure?

Sorry, I'm not sure what your point is, or at least, how it relates to EV campervans.

However for what it's worth... if you're just saying that it's dumb to build expensive (in carbon terms) frames on which to perch PV panels, and then to demolish the lot after just a few years, I'm sure no-one's going to disagree.

(But if you put your PV panels on a roof you're going to build anyway, or at least on a fit-for-purpose steel frame - steel has an embodied energy of only about 6,000 KWh per ton, while a 100 sq m PV array would generate about 250,000 KWh over a say 25 year lifespan in the UK, after a few years repaying its own embodied energy - then it makes a lot of sense.)

Just because some projects are stupidly conceived, or maybe just concept illustrations to grab some attention, doesn't mean that solar is a stupid technology.

Returning to the campervan question though, and EVs in general: you are claiming that EV's 'carry a greater pollution footprint than modern diesels'. I'm not saying you are wrong, but what is your actual basis for saying that?
 
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Just trying to illustrate as a previous victim of converting a van to LPG then the tax went up.
We have to look beyond the hype, the pollution 'load' of filthy lithium mining, disposal etc in my view repeat in my view outweighs any yet to be proven benefit
 
Velma's Dad

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Wongo, I share your concerns about the hidden (from our perspective anyway) issues of mining lithium and rare minerals for batteries. Yes it's too easy to ignore some kinds of pollution just because they happens on the other side of the world. Although I think it still be balanced against a lot of other factors when contemplating whether or not EVs are 'better' or 'worse' than fossil cars - even though the hype needle is going to swing to the right now that the big carmakers are committing to going electric.

I also sympathise re your LPG tax flip-flopping point. There's going to be the same thing with diesel now that diesel NOx/particulates have suddenly been 'discovered' after years of governments promoting diesel as a way of chasing CO2 targets.
 
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