Is Do It Yourself (DIY) Electric Car Legal?

A lot of people are intrigued by the idea of owning an electric car. If you’ve checked, a new sedan electric vehicle (EV) from the manufacturers is still quite expensive. We are talking $40,000 and above. Maybe lower if you can get a government tax rebate. That left us with the option of DIY electric car conversion.

Many electric car enthusiasts have been converting conventional gas guzzlers to [tag-tec]pure electric cars[/tag-tec]. But is a homemade electric car legal? The reason I asked that question because I came across an article yesterday about a person, Paul Pearson, an electric car retrofitter that has been dragged to court for building DIY electric vehicle.

I’ve then decided to do some research on the internet to find out what happened and to verify the legality of DIY electric car. Here’s what I found:

1) Police sting doesn’t stop homebrew electric vehicle maker in California – Last fall, we spoke with Paul Pearson, the man behind the Lola EV (above) from Electric Custom Cars, at the Santa Monica Alt Car Expo. The Lola, a sort of Tesla kit car, seems innocent enough, but Pearson recently got himself into trouble with the City of Santa Monica for his electric car work…

2) Paul Pearson continuing legal fight over electric vehicle conversions – Last week, Paul Pearson went back to court. It was the fifth time he’s been in front of a judge because of a police sting last December over the electric car conversions he was doing in his garage. In short, the situation is wholly confusing, but also quite important for fans of electric vehicles…

3) Electric Car Enthusiast Busted in Sting – Santa Monica resident Paul Pearson is an avid electric car enthusiast. Since it is nearly impossible to buy an electric car today, Mr. Pearson has done what any other talented enthusiast might do, build his own…

4) If there is no law, there is no crime – Unless you live in California. Paul Pearson lives in California. Mr. Pearson makes a living converting gas and diesel powered vehicles to plug-in electrics. There is no law regulating said conversions in the state of California. But that did not stop the the state DMV and the City of Santa Monica from arresting him and dragging him into court for, supposedly, illegally “remanufacturing” vehicles…

5) Lola EV brings sunny Southern Californian style to AltCar Expo 2008! – The AltCar Expo 2008 in Santa Monica has been in the auto news for the past few days with the crazy concepts and new designs that it is bringing into limelight. The Lola EV is viewed by a few people at the Expo as the ‘poor man’s Tesla’. While the Lola is indeed a pretty cool electric vehicle, it really is no Tesla…

After reading all the articles, I realized Paul Pearson is being charged for manufacturing vehicles without a license and failure to obtain a business permit. In essence, he converts a conventional car to run on pure electricity with the intention of selling it. Apparently, that is against the law in Santa Monica. It would be interesting to see how the court case turns out.

Do you think DIY electric is legal? Leave your comments and tell us what you think.