Electric conversions are nothing new, in fact we’ve had electric vehicles for as long as petrol vehicles. But when people started to think about converting petrol vehicles to electric; there have been some varieties on the scene for many many years. In fact, VW themselves made a very interesting electric version of the classic campers that we specialise in at eDub Conversions. And there are always options of where the batteries go.
When we started eDub in 2013; we had batteries that went under the rear seats. It was the most logical place to put them, the fabrication was simpler and lighter and didn’t need to be watertight. But it did compromise on interior space and alter the weight distribution quite significantly.
Our next few campers also had interior battery boxes; either above the engine bay on the boot or again inside cabinets inside the campervan. These were for simple reasons, but we’ve always wanted to get to a stage where our batteries could be completely external to the vehicle so that we didn’t have to change anything inside. We started getting enquiries from customers who had a lot of memories within their campervan, and didn’t really want the interiors changing. And we felt it wasn’t fair for us to say “sure we can convert your campervan but we’ll have to change all of your interiors.
So we started on a process of designing battery boxes to attach to the outside of the vehicle starting in the engine bay. Now unlike a lot of other electric conversion vehicles camper. Vans are trickier because their access is upside down.
The engine bay is in the back, but you could only get things in and out of it by lifting them up into the space, as opposed to a regular bonnet vehicle where the bonnet would be removed and engine lifted out, and a battery box lifted in to its place. So that creates a few tricky situations where we have to think very carefully about not just the strength and integrity of the battery box itself, but also we have to think very significantly about how the electric conversion components and fabrication work is assembled.
So the camper vans were originally designed to hold a lot of weight in the back of the vehicle. This was obviously where the engine used to be with most of the weight behind the rear wheels and a petrol tank but sat on top of the rear axle and it was the strongest place with the best bolt holes and mounting holes to attach our battery boxes. When you’re converting a vehicle to electric, you must use the original mounting holes and not adjust or modify the chassis in a way. Otherwise the DVLA won’t be very happy.
So in the classic camper vans, there are a number of variations from 1967 to 1979, which are the key years of the Type 2 camper and through those years are three broad variations, commonly referred to as early day crossovers and late Bay camper vans. There’s also many similarities to previous generation split screen camper vans. And then again some commonality with the more modern, Brazilian, water called camper vans also. But this means that, although the mounting bolt holes are in roughly the same place, we have designed fabrication work with small alterations, depending on the vehicle that is being converted.
For our larger battery options where more batteries means more range, which is very popular with our customers. The additional batteries are built into a box and placed underneath the centre of the vehicle between the chassis rails. Originally in the space was a heater tube that carried hot air from the engine to the front of the vehicle.
Obviously the engine has now gone, so you don’t need the heater tube to move that heat from the back of the vehicle all the way to the cab, and instead, we have the option to put very efficient, high voltage heaters exactly where you need them in the cab. But that means underneath the vehicle we can create space and install a battery pack underneath which is a really tidy place to put the batteries, keeps them out the way, this is the method that VW use on their electric conversion packages, and it also massively improved the steering because your weight is now further forwards in the vehicle and helps you stick to the road.
Building a custom subframe in the rear also allows us to create brackets and mounting points for all of our other components such as the charger and the DCDC converter. We also integrate full cooling systems and wiring looms into the structures as well.
We are really proud of the system that we’ve developed and it’s very unique globally for conversions of the style and to the standard and we are really proud of them. If you have a campervan and why not get in touch and we can talk about electrification. Or why not contact us if you would love a camper, but don’t have one, we have some great campers that we can source for you.