$3,000 DIY electric Mini Cooper is a fun exception among conversions
The 2020 Mini Cooper SE offers an all-electric powertrain from the factory, but YouTuber Rich Benoit took a different path to an electric Mini.
Benoit's Rich Rebuilds YouTube channel gained popularity focusing on Tesla rebuilds, but recently its star has been branching out. As documented in a series of videos, he bought a non-running R53-generation Mini Cooper and swapped in an electric powertrain—at a quoted final cost of less than $3,000.
The powertrain was cobbled together from parts Benoit scavenged, including an electric motor acquired from a school shop class, a deeply-discounted controller, and some Chevrolet battery modules (mounted where the rear seats would normally be).
The completed Mini shows what you can do with affordable, off-the-shelf (or scavenged) parts. It has a top speed of over 100 mph, and can do zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, according to Benoit. Range is estimated at 41 miles. Benoit even plans to race the Mini in the 24 Hours of Lemons, a joke endurance race for cheap cars.
However, be forewarned that most conversions cost in the vicinity of $20,000 to $30,000 all said, not including the costs of the vehicle—and with the low end of that scale for those willing to do some of the parts-finding and coordination on their own.
Benoit also isn't the typical DIY type. He has a shop (which removed the Mini's broken gasoline engine) and is experienced in conversions. He also doesn't include the labor costs. Judging by comments in the video, the conversion took months of work.
Non-hobbyists might want to consider the brand-new Cooper SE. If you can claim the full $7,500 federal EV tax credit, it costs less than $20,000 to start.
Watch the full video series for more details on Benoit's electric Mini build. His channel is also a good starting point for some advice on buying used and staying outside the Tesla ecosystem. Benoit also helped with last year's "Truckla" conversion of a Tesla Model 3 into a pickup.