A Volkswagen T2 Camper Van’s Electric Conversion — Part 6
This series is the result of conversations with Kit Lacey about his entrepreneurship in converting classic cars to electric propulsion. Kit’s UK-based company is called eDub Services. I encouraged Kit to share the concrete information on his rebuilds with CleanTechnica in his own words. This is the final part of the series on his first conversion. What a ride it has been!
You may want to catch up with part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, & part 5 before I hand it over to Kit Lacey in this very last chapter of his first, and most painful, build, in which he refuses to give up on the adorable T2 — Indie.
Part 6 — No Regrets
Do you have any regrets? A memory of something that creeps up on you and gives you chills? It’s hard enough when those regrets are just memories, but when you wake up every morning and stare out the window to see a beautiful green camper van with no hope of being restored; that’s tough.
If you remember from part 5 of our journey, Indie suffered a catastrophic failure on a test drive. The motor encoder severed a signal wire due to vibration and gave incorrect information to the motor controller, causing everything to (internally) blow up! Now, here lay our issue: The motor and controller were manufactured by two different companies in the US, and both had failed. So, both units had to be sent back, and then the two companies had to decide how fo fix the problem.
And so, every morning, over a cup of coffee, I would stare out at Indie and wonder if we would ever get a solution. By this point, so much money had been sunk into this project. (If you’ve dabbled with conversions in the past, you know what I mean!) The project had eaten our private investment, and then doubled that because of paying off the matched loan. Add to that all the ongoing costs and repair costs and the money was gone.
I like to compare this period to a story I once heard about the origins of Pixar. Steve Jobs (with a large bank balance due to Apple success) had seen talent in John Lasseter and his ability to create beautiful animation. So, Steve decided to back John, and Pixar was born. Whilst their first film, Toy Story, was being made, the project took way longer than expected. Not to mention going over budget. The story goes that it came to a point where Steve believed in the project so much that each month, John would walk into Steve’s office and ask for money, and Steve would simply write a cheque. And isn’t it a good job he did! Without that perseverance from John and Steve, Pixar would never have made it and the world would have missed out.
I decided to buck up my ideas. We were in too deep and our only option was success. It will probably take longer than we’d like, but as long as we don’t give up, we’ll get there.
In early February 2016, we had a visit from Matt, our mechanic. He had been given confirmation that both the motor and controller would be repaired under warranty and returned to us to fit! (Whoopee!) He visited eDub HQ and fitted the new motor and controller. Three days later, my mum sent me the picture on the right.
It may not look like much, but for the previous 6 months, Indie had been sitting on the opposite side of the drive! She moved! We were back on track and we weren’t giving up!
What followed was an amazing summer. We started dipping our toes into the hire market with a few bookings, but we also took the opportunity to test her ourselves. We made it to the Spring Dub festival in Harrogate that March (more of a Golf scene to be honest, but hey) and we tested camping. Mainly just my wife and I, but we also managed to get away with our friends and their daughter. Yup, 5 of us in Indie — it was great!
We managed to cross a few more things off our bucket list. A new Elcon TC charger meant we could charge at 7kW, so a long drive from North Yorkshire to Malvern for the ElectrAA Show was now possible. That was such a fun drive. As we had to take the shortest route, we bumbled through the country lanes and A roads, over the Peak District and beyond. Motorways are so boring, and it was great to explore the beautiful British countryside. The ElectrAA Show was also a chance to meet Robert Llewellyn, the Fully Charged presenter and a bit of an EV icon. He said, “We have to do an episode on this!” (I’m still waiting for the call, FC.…)
Many people ask us how much Indie cost to build. This is hard to say, as the costs for conversion were swallowed up in all the other costs for the business. I know that we owe a figure with nearly 5 zeros on the end to private investors. Because of this experience, we’re trying really hard to systemise the conversion process, making conversions much more affordable and attainable. There’s no reason why we can’t convert every single VW T2, is there!(?) If we were to do the process again today with the same spec, the project would cost around £45,000 including the cost of the camper van.
We launched eDub Conversions in 2019 to carry out this mission. The EV market is going from strength to strength, with conversions becoming more popular too. We have also seen support become more available and parts easier to source. At eDub Conversions, we aim to create full transparency with our costs. We have built our conversions into 5 different packs to give prospects a clear expectation of what will be required.
We are always working with suppliers and fabricators to lower this price to help more people get involved. If you’re interested in converting a VW T2 to electric, why not check out our webpage to see what’s involved in electrifying a camper.
eDub Trips is going strong, taking people on incredible staycations around North Yorkshire. The COVID crisis (I had to mention it, sorry) has shut us down for a lot of the year, but when we’re open, we’re busy, which is great! You can explore eDub Trips and book here.
Thank you for joining us on this ride. Keep an eye out for more articles coming your way from eDub, including coverage of our Porsche 911 conversion, our Golf Mk2, and our BMW 700.