Electric vehicle purists love to argue, as does anyone with a strong belief in something. One of many arguments EV enthusiasts engage in is whether or not a car needs to have a purpose-built chassis or can it use a “glider” from a gas-powered car. Let’s look at the positives and negatives.
- + Typically doesn’t have any odd intrusions into the cabin for the battery, motor, etc.
- + Can have a more compact overall dimension because EV components take up less space than an ICE.
- – For lower-volume vehicles (as EVs are currently), the price of making a new chassis is not cost-effective.
- + Costs less because you can modify an existing chassis to fit your needs.
- + Can use body panels and parts from the high-volume gas-powered car, saving money.
- – Many times, conversions have intrusions into the cabin for the battery.
At the current time, there are only a handful of manufacturers making purpose-built chassis for their EVs: Nissan (LEAF), Tesla (Model S), and BMW (i3). Even the i3 has a negative for the EV version — the space allocated for the range-extending ICE is left empty! (They should have put an auxiliary battery pack in that space, IMHO.)
These manufacturers are seen as committed to electric vehicle technology because of their use of a purpose-built chassis. The other manufacturers are seen as going into the EV field as an afterthought. Maybe that’s why conversions aren’t seen or rated as positively as purpose-built cars.