Converting a 1999 Jeep Wrangler into Electric

Why is Electrified Veronika converting a Jeep to Electric?

 In April 2021, right after my 32nd birthday, I had a vision. I want to electrify a 99 Jeep Wrangler. Growing up in Austria, I used to watch the TV show Gilmore Girls. Watching the main character, Lorelei, driving her Jeep around America made me fall in love with this car. Since then, I was dreaming of having this Jeep myself. 

Well, as Electrified Veronika, this dream comes true. 

Our plan is to convert a 99 Jeep Wrangler into fully electric. This is only one part of our story. We are also going to convert our new house in Wisconsin to be powered 100% by the sun. This will involve a solar panel installation as well as a stationary battery energy storage system. All of that ties back to the electric vehicle in form of a home charging station to charge the Jeep 100% form sun power. 

What does this mean for you?

The whole conversion and solar plus energy storage project, all the planning, and the full hands-on experience are shared on the Electrified Veronika Youtube Channel. 

Sharing this story is meant to help promote public awareness for electrification and inspire our society to join us towards a cleaner future. 

All the DIYers out there are welcome to get inspired and take our experience to the next level. . 

Would you like to support us and our vision?

If you would like to support us, feel free to do that through our Patreon Account, through Buy me a Coffee, and of course by subscribing to our YouTube channel. We are sharing our in between moments mostly on Instagram and Tik Tok.

 I am honestly grateful for all the support we have received so far. It really helps to enable these activities. 

 We are also very much welcoming collaborations and partners who want to contribute components (batteries, inverter, e-motors, controllers, etc.), engineering services and good advice! We are open to accept donations in form of used batteries, solar panels, and other components any time. 

Thank you to everybody, who is already supporting us. It is so great to see you being excited for this adventure!  

A very special thank you goes to the organization RENEW WISCONSIN and their EVs for Good program that supported the purchase of our Jeep Wrangler. 

More collaboration partners: Hexagon MSC Software, National Instruments, Earl’s Battery Service, Great Lake Recycling, Terraflex. 

Project Video Playlist

January 21, 2022

We’re Converting our 1999 Jeep Wrangler to ELECTRIC!

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Project Documentation

Battery REDESIGN
December 3rd, 2022

Our front battery box with BMS, high voltage contactors and thermal management is assembled and DONE – NOPE, we actually decided that we will will redesign the entire battery and thermal system. Our current battery design worked well in theory and in the simulation world, but there were certain safety constraints during assembly that we cannot neglect. We also decided to place the battery box in a lower position in the “engine compartment” and completely changed our idea of how to cool and heat the batteries. But sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward. More on this soon – stay tuned! 

We are at SEMA with the JEEP!
November 2nd, 2022

Last month we worked hard to prepare for SEMA Electrified! Yes, we were invited to come to the biggest car show in Las Vegas – what an adventure. We cleaned the Jeep, mounted the front battery box as well as two rear battery modules, setup a basic thermal management solution with two radiators in the front, installed the dash,  – hey, it looks like a real JEEP again. All the major components are installed and the show was a huge success. We’ve had incredible feedback from garages looking to offer our rebuild, as well as from Stellantis themselves, who were extremely impressed with the project! 

Now, let’s go home and finish up this project, wohoo! 

Front Battery ASSEMBLY
October 20th, 2022

We are assembling our front battery box, which consists of 4 homemade 70V battery modules connected in series – two layers stacked between a cooling/heating plate with copper pipes for active liquid cooling. 

We built a battery box out of aluminum plates and sprayed the whole thing “frog green.” It looks promising, but we are definitely having problems with the bus bar connections and fitting it into the box. Everything is extremely tight – probably too tight! 

We have the mounts ready in the Jeep, and we’ll be able to put everything in, but it doesn’t feel perfect. We are pretty stressed and not 100% happy with the current status.

Cleaning, Spraying, Upgrades
October 20th, 2022

Since we almost completely disassembled the Jeep for this rebuild, it’s time to clean it up and make it beautiful again. We sprayed it with a black bedliner, upgraded the suspension, brakes and tires thanks to a generous donation from Terraflex, reinstalled the dash, seats, cover…. it’s starting to look like a real Jeep again and it feels great. I am extremely excited. 

Acceleration, Braking, Steering
October 12th, 2022

When you remove the engine from a gas-powered Jeep you find certain functions like power steering and power brakes don’t work the way they used to. What to do in an EV conversion? Yes, you make a Frankenstein: electric power steering from a Volvo, brake booster from a Tesla and “electron” pedal from a Nissan Leaf. Super interesting to figure out all the electrical wiring. It feels like a detective investigating all the colorful wire connections and reverse engineering their functions. Also, I soldered for the first time in my life and it was fun! Connecting everything with our control system from AEM Performance Electronics. Watch the video here

MOTOR is IN
September 14th, 2022

Huge milestone achieved! We installed the electric motor, the inverter, the stock transfer case and the stock driveshafts. Watch video here. We needed to make a hole into the chassis, but hey transparent technology is the best technology. We are very thankful for our partnership with Darin from Performance Off-Road WI. He is an amazing fabricator and great support for this project.

By the way, we are a bit stressed because we are invited to the SEMA show in Las Vegas! We have a little more than one month to finish this Jeep haha. 

WIRING, CAN Communication
August 31st, 2022

We figure out the entire vehicle communication! We chose CAN communication to make the electric components that we added in this conversion talk to each other to enable safe and efficient operation. We are setting up the entire wiring system starting with the AEM VCU300 and two main CAN lines to the Keypad, the Battery Management System, Inverter, On-Board Charger and Displays. Watch video here. 

First BATTERY Prototype
August 24th, 2022

We built our first battery module from scrapped Mustang Mach-E batteries. Wow, that was a lot of effort. Disassembling the battery modules into individual cell slices and reconfiguring them into new modules with different electrical connection. With out method we could double the battery voltage from stock 30V up to 60V. With that we can get to a 400V battery system with only 7 modules as compared to the 12 modules found in a Mustang Mach-E. Watch video here. 

DASHBOARD Considerations
August 5th, 2022

Wow, it seems like so long ago that we took the Jeep apart. Now we are trying to find all the parts again – they are scattered in different rooms of our house. The hood, the doors, the cover, the tires, but also all the interior parts from the seats to the steering wheel to the dashboard. 

We are brainstorming about different options on how to integrate the new parts of the front console, like the keyboard to switch between drive, park and reverse or the dashboard that will show us signals such as battery temperature or voltages. 

We want the Jeep to look as traditional as possible but we also tend to integrate some fun and fancy features – no conclusion yet.

MOVING to a bigger WORKSHOP
July 28th, 2022

Our Jeep was transferred to a larger workshop! There was just not enough space any more in our garage. We now started to set up a battery lab in our garage. We are testing all cells that we got from scrapped module and reassemble the good ones into our final Jeep modules.

We started a collaboration with Darin from Performance Off-Road in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Together we will finish this conversion pretty soon! He is the Jeep expert and knows if we need to update suspension or drive shafts. We are very happy to have him part of the Gilmore Girls EV Jeep Team now.  

CAD and SIMULATION
July 13th, 2022

How hot do batteries get? Do we need to cool them? What are the options for the electric powertrain? Do my components fit? How far can I go? We have done quite a bit of simulation and design work for this project with MATLAB, Solidworks and CFD Cradle.  

Space Claim Analysis – Options for our electric powertrain – Where do all components go? Reusing and reconfiguring battery modules, thermal management, how hot do batteries get? What’s the electric driving range? Apply real-world driving scenarios to see how far you can go on one charge.

REUSING Batteries
July 5th, 2022

REUSING batteries in their second life? Hmm..good in theory, but not as easy as I learned hands-on in our Jeep conversion project. Batteries that are designed not to be taken apart can be difficult to take apart. We finally found a procedure that works for us – Cutting busbars with the Dremel, melting plastic with a ultrasonic knife, monitoring battery temperatures with an IR camera.

We are now reassembling our “battery slices” into new modules with different form factor and electrical connections, so we can make our custom 60kWh and 400V battery system for our Jeep.

ELECTRIC POWERTRAIN
June 29th, 2022

Wohooo – We have all our high voltage components ready to get installed in the Jeep. This project is getting real now! Batteries are LG Chem pouch cell modules from scrapped cars that we will reassemble for our needs. Electric motor, inverter and on-board charger are from Cascadia Motion. BMS and VCU are from AEM EV. Thermal management concept is still under evaluation. 

Computer Aided Design CAD
June 26th, 2022

We are very busy on the design and simulation side. We have a good concept ready but now we really take some time to understand the details of our battery cooling concept, thermal management, electrical HV and LV system. We are simulating our battery module and cooling plate together with the CFD team from Hexagon. We are running electric range calculations with MATLAB and investigate different concepts with Solidworks.  

Electric MOTOR arrived
June 24th, 2022

FINALLY – Our Electric Motor, Inverter and On-Board Charger arrived! We have been waiting for those for several months now. We had visited Cascadia Motion back in May and now we have the whole electric powertrain sitting in our garage. Let’s see how everything goes together! 

AEM Battery Management System
April 5th, 2022

We received our Battery Management System BMS, Vehicle Control Unit (VCU) and other conversion parts from AEM. Thank you AEM for supporting this conversion project. And for sending me a T-shirt in my size! 

REUSING old batteries
March 28th, 2022

We got USED batteries from scrapped cars for our EV conversion. They are LG Chem pouch cell modules. We are doing first voltage checks and prepare them for disassembly and integration into our Jeep. We store them safely in a remote location until we need them. 

Our Garage STUDIO
March 12th, 2022

We are getting very CREATIVE with our lights in the garage. Filming and document is so much fun, but also a lot of work. I really enjoy this project and learn so much. People and companies are starting to reach out to get help with their conversions. Should we form another company to offer electric Jeep conversions? 

3D PRINTING
March 11th, 2022

We ordered E-motor, inverter and on-board charger for our conversion. Did lots of calculations for different powertrain options and made our decision. It will be a very powerful electric Jeep! 

LASER SCANNING
February 10th, 2022

We are so thankful that our friends and Jeep fanatics from Hexagon came to our garage and laser scanned the Jeep engine bay, frame, battery modules, transfer case, etc. to create a 3D CAD  model for us. Using this model, we will design the brackets for the e-motor, the inverter, and the batteries and place everything in the right spots. 

Having Fun
January 1st, 2022

I am now sitting where the electric motor and some of the batteries will be living. Still have lots of components like the air conditioner to remove and the huge effort to clean this beast before the new powertrain arrives. Helper Donnie will have a lot of fun cleaning. Also removed the fuel tank today. Stinky! 

Engine Gone
December 31st, 2021

On the last day of the year, we reached a huge milestone. We pulled the engine and removed the transmission. It took longer than expected but worked out pretty well. It is crazy to lift this big heavy lump of iron! Lot’s of learnings for me. 

Gutting the Jeep
December 30th, 2021

 After a dirty day, we removed a lot of accessories from the engine like the power steering pump, A/C compressor, alternator and lots of hoses. We also started to take apart the inside of the car and found lots of nice surprises. Maybe a squirrel or two were living inside this thing one time. 

Getting HANDS-ON
December 29th, 2021

The ICE powertrain removal begins…

As you know, I have a PhD in Technical Physics and a strong background in EV batteries, but I have basically never turned a wrench on a real car, so that is really an adventure for me.  First steps are draining the oil and coolant and removing the radiator. It is fun!