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.
In this blog post, I am going back to basic. Meaning, I want to write about how a DIY electric car works. A simple explanation of how all the components work together to become an electric vehicle (EV). You call call it an “elevator pitch” or a summary.
Just like in any DIY electric vehicle, it began its life as a normal gasoline driven car with an [tag-tec]internal combustion engine[/tag-tec] (ICE) power plant. During the EV conversion, the car goes through a major “heart transplant”. We are removing the ICE and replacing it with a DC electric motor.
Next, it’s the removal of non essential parts. Every components that used to be connected to the engine is now redundant and to be taken out. Parts such as the exhaust pipe, muffler, catalytic converter, fuel tank, fuel pump, radiator etc are to be removed. There is one crucial component that you must keep intact, the transmission unit.
To move the EV, torque will be generated by the electric motor. To transfer the power into the wheels, the motor has to be connected to the existing transmission unit via an adapter plate.
How do we control the electric motor? That is where the electric motor controller comes into place. Here’s how it works. The car accelerator paddle is connected to a potential meter. The meter will control the flow of electricity into the motor.
When you floor the paddle, the potential meter will tell the electric controller to increase the voltage into the motor, therefore spinning it faster and accelerating the car.
Where do we get the electricity to power the EV? From DC batteries. An average sedan electric car will need 10 – 15 units of lead acid batteries. On a full charge, it will give approximately 150 driving miles.
The actual drive mileage of a DIY electric car will depend on the motor power rating, charging state of the batteries, weight of the car and also the driving condition. In a nutshell, that is how a home made electric car works.
EV Conversion For Beginners
If you want to know more on how DIY electric car works, check out Gavin Shoebridge’s Electric Conversion Made Easy e-book. The e-book comes with a series of 11 High Definition (HD) instructional videos.
Related web sites:
1) Top Electric Car Conversion Kit Manuals
Building An Electric Car From Your Home Garage
There are many benefits in having your own [tag-tec]pure electric car[/tag-tec]. Firstly, you wouldn’t have to stop by the gas station to fuel up anymore. The only time you have to stop by the service station is to buy candy or use their restroom. That is a great idea if you ask me.
To an electric car enthusiast, the whole internal component and electrical system of an electric vehicle (EV) is really fascinating. You are using electric power from the battery to move a bulk of metal weighting almost half a ton! From a scientific point, that is awesome.
A brand new EV from a car manufacturer is not cheap. If you were to get one from the dealership, be prepared to invest upwards of US40,000. This is understandable because without the [tag-tec]economy of scale[/tag-tec], the car manufacturer would not be able to bring the cost down. Not for the time being anyway. When the demand for EV picks up, the cost will always comes down. This is the basics manufacturing economics.
If you are on a tight budget, building an electric car via Do It Yourself (DIY) approach would be your only option. But before you go and remove your car internal combustion engine (ICE), there are a few things you have to know.
Not everyone can perform their own EV conversion at their home garage. Firstly, you must be well versed with the inner workings of a gasoline driven car. Do you fix your own car when there is a problem? Do you service your own vehicle or would you prefer to send it to a friendly mechanic?
If you are outsourcing the maintenance and servicing of your car, it would be a better idea to outsource your electric car conversion process also.
When you are letting someone else to electric retrofit your car, you should do your own research also. To be prudent, you should read up on the basic science of a homemade electric car. There are many books on electric vehicle conversion available in the bookstore and on the web.
The reason I recommend you to do this is to be prudent. With some knowledge on EV, at least you will know when your are being charge of unnecessary work done of parts installed in your EV.
EV Conversion For Beginners
If you want to learn the processes involved in an electric car conversion project, check out Gavin Shoebridge’s Electric Conversion Made Easy e-book.
Gavin is from New Zealand and he has converted his 1987 Mitsubishi Treadia into an EV. His e-book documents all the steps in his conversion process. Gavin’s manual also comes with 11 High Definition (HD) instructional videos specially made for beginners.