We’re big fans of the MGF here at Retro-Electric. In fact, the writer of this article has a 1997 VVC sitting in the garage that is earmarked for Retro-EV conversion next year.
MGF’s are turning out to be a popular choice for conversion. They are plentiful, cheap to purchase (at the moment), handle well and offer a number of options for locating the batteries.
Mark Newell from Australia has owned his 1999 MGF since new and has always enjoyed the handling and styling of the car. Unfortunately, he has also spent a small fortune on issues related to the head gasket and cooling, a common enough problem with the F and one that makes it even more appealing when it comes to E-power conversion.
So, when it gave up yet again, he decided it was time to resolve the unreliability once and for all, and inspired by a converted MGF here in the UK, he decided to convert the MG to electric. Thankfully, Mark found a local group of EV enthusiasts in Geelong Australia called RENEW EV, who helped provide advice and a helping hand along the way.
In line with most home conversions, Mark had a limited budget in mind for the project and therefore looked to source used parts where he could. As the biggest cost to any conversion is the batteries, Mark managed to source a complete Nissan Leaf battery pack from Japan, helping keep the costs down, even if he did have to wait weeks and weeks for them to arrive.
Despite the relatively small size of the car, Mark managed to squeeze 20 kwh of the 24 kwh pack into the MG by placing 24 modules behind the seats where the original fuel tank would have sat, with an additional 14 modules under the bonnet where the spare tyre would normally live.
Mark didn’t scrimp and scrape when it came to the motor though, opting for a Siemens AC motor capable of outputting 300Nm torque and up to 150Kw power. When you consider that even the most powerful production MGF, the 1.8 VVC trophy only pumped out 117kw of power and 174Nm of torque, that makes for a substantial hike in power and drive.
All of this power is harnessed through a water cooled DMOC 645 controller and GEVCU module, with a Zeva battery management system and EVMS display to balance the pack and control the system.
Heating was left until last. Mark was originally keen to replace the heater core with a ceramic heating element, but after finding out that he would have to dismantle the entire dash to get to it, he decided on a fluid heater instead, which plumbs into original heater core pipes and runs off the unused “Demister” switch on the dash.
The car is now being used on a regular basis, but Mark is unsure about the maximum range, we would bet on around 60 miles unless the motor is cranked up to max, in which case around 40 is more likely.
The overall budget came out at around $15k AUD, which is around £8000. We think that’s a pretty good price for the quality of the conversion and the parts that were used.
Mark is very happy with the outcome, he’s noticed the improvements in performance and driveability, its given the car a new lease of life, resolved the unreliability issues and can easily be upgraded to a larger battery in the future as technology progresses.
This conversion was just a hobby project for Mark and it took him two and a half years. Some things took longer than he expected, such as the wait for the adaptor plate to be engineered, but in Marks words “it’s no TESLA Roadster or Porsche Taycan, but I love my budget MG-EV Roadster! It might not be crazy fast or have a range of 1000km, but that was never my intention and as far as I’m aware it’s Australia’s first 100% electric MG-F.