Country Lore: I Built a Small Electric Car

You can build this small electric car for neighborhood travel.
By Lonnie Green
June/July 2010
Add to My MSN

It won’t win a prize for beauty, but his small electric car does get him where he’s going.
PHOTO: LONNIE GREEN


Content Tools

Related Content

MAX Update No. 43: Testing Aerodynamics With a Clear Car

At the time, it seemed like a clear car was a good idea.

The Feeling of Shelter

Lloyd meditates on the essentials of shelter and our memories of home.

Friday Fuel Economy: Jump in a Carpool

Make new friends, save big bucks on gas, reduce pollution!

Is There an Electric Car in Your Future?

Do you see yourself in an electric car? Dan Chiras lists the benefits of driving an electric vehicle...

Imagine having a small electric car that will go 25 miles per hour, has a range of at least 20 miles on a charge, will go from 0 to 25 in two seconds and costs just over $1,000. The dilemma is that the big automakers aren’t building them. The only way to get this car is to build it yourself.

I started building my dream electric car about three years ago. I wanted a car that would take me to town comfortably, be nonpolluting and cheap to operate, and could be built from readily available materials. I built three prototypes before constructing what I think is the pinnacle in a home-built electric car. I also think anyone can build this car in a home shop.

The car weighs 340 pounds with wet-cell golf-cart-style batteries, and costs an estimated $1,245 in materials to build. I had to consider licensing the car, because I want to legally drive it on the road in California. All in all, the licensing was easy as long as the vehicle was less than 2 horsepower.

Here are a few other things I learned about the licensing in California: To be licensed as a “neighborhood electric vehicle,” a car must have four wheels. My three-wheeled car will be licensed as a “motor-driven bicycle.” I had to run the motor on 24 volts to get below the 2-horsepower rule. I also needed a headlight, a rearview mirror, brake lights, a taillight, turn signals and a horn. You should check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to learn about local rules before building an electric car to use on public roads.

As a designer/builder, I try to build machines to address needs in my own life. I have also built a backhoe that I’ve used extensively on my own properties. I now sell plans for the backhoe and the electric car on my website, thegreensmachines.com.

Lonnie Green
Cedar Ridge, California








Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.