Mechanical engineering student converts a 1969 VW Karmann Ghia into an all-electric classic


A new all-electric VW has hit the roads! No, we aren’t talking about all the EVs that Volkswagen Group has been hinting at and announcing recently. We are talking about a project from an aspiring mechanical engineer who converted a classic 1969 VW Karmann Ghia into an all-electric car with the help of his father.

A little different from an EV boat conversion, or a conversion of a rugged truck for off-roading, via Reddit, a mechanical engineering student in California began a project, along with his father, to convert a classic 1969 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia into an all-electric classic nicknamed by them the “Karmann Electra.”

According to him, he “bought the car for $3000 and the body was in almost the same shape it is now, which was good. However everything else was bad: rats nests on the interior, and horrible air suspension that was incorrectly installed so the steering did not work correctly.” So there was obviously a lot of work to be done. Nonetheless, when not going to school or working, with a little elbow grease, the father-son duo were able to complete the conversion in about a year when they had free time on nights and weekends.

Some basic components and specs for the conversion include:

  • 15 kWh battery pack of Dow Kokam prismatic cells for about 50 miles of range
  • 5-6 hour recharge time on a 110v or 3 hours on 240
  • ThunderStruck Motors Electric Vehicle Charge Controller (EVCC) & J1772 port
  • HPEVS AC-50, with Curtis controller, electric drive system
  • 72 HP (52 kW) motor
  • New suspensions, brakes, wheel bearings, seats and carpet

The cost for all the parts was about $1500 since he had some connections from working in the EV industry himself.

Check out a few photos from the project:

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A J1772 charge port behind the original gas flap

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The two CH4100 chargers from ThunderStruck Motors, controlled by the EVCC for 30A of juice

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Battery pack in front



“Engine bay”

I had the pleasure to briefly speak with him, and he stated that “the whole reason I am getting my mechanical engineering degree is to try and help convert the world to electricity.” A wonderful goal that he has, and as we can see, he is already doing a great job!

Other than the Reddit thread where he answered a lot of questions in more depth, I encourage you to also check out his blog that he started a little more than a year ago here which also gives some detailed information.

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