If you’re going to build your own electric car, it takes a bit of ingenuity and patience. You can either start from scratch, or take an existing car and convert it to the electric option. The very first step is figuring out how much money you want to spend and seeing which option would best suit you. This article will be covering taking an existing car and converting it to the electric option.
Build Your Own Electric Car
When choosing a battery to build your own electric car, you have a few options in front of you. What kind of car is this going to be? If it’s a car that’s going to be heavily used, you want a battery with a long charge and shelf life. You have a Marine deep-cycle lead-acid batteries. These can be gotten at any hardware or auto part store. There is also the golf cart battery, the fork lift battery, basically any high performance sealed battery can be used to build your own electric car.
There are several different models to build your own electric car that you can give this option. You are going to want to pick a model that is light weight to be able to utilize the electric engine to its fullest potential. It should be noted that electric engines aren’t known for their horsepower so taking an old clunker that is made of metal probably wouldn’t be the option you’d want to start with, not to mention that it will drain the batteries pretty quick. You might also want to pick a model that doesn’t have power options. Power windows/locks/steering, etc., would go on the engine power and since you are removing that, it would make these options obsolete. When you build your own electric car, you want to make it easy on you.
When you are ready to build your own electric car, and are ready to choose a body, make sure the body of the car is in decent condition. The more work you’re going to put into this, the more money it’s going to cost you. (Unless you’re looking to do a complete restoration, which is fine, but not covered in this article to build your own electric car.)
Your first major step to build your own electric car is to remove anything that requires or uses gasoline on the car. You will be removing the exhaust system (muffler and catalytic converter), the gas tank, the engine itself, the coolant tank, the radiator, the fuel lines and filter, the starter, and anything else that would require the use of gasoline. Keep in mind that you also want to make the car as light as possible since you don’t want it to drain your battery, so removing anything useless is going to help you in the long run. It will also make it a lot easier to run the wires needed to make the car run.
It should be noted here that whatever safety equipment that is being used on the car should remain intact, especially if you plan on insuring it in the future.
The next step to build your own electric car is attaching an adapter plate to the transmission and mount the motor. Your motor might need custom mounting brackets and these should be made ahead of time. There are several videos on YouTube on how to make the mounting brackets and adapter plates. Some of the videos even show you how to make it from some of the scrap metal you’ve already removed from the car so you won’t be out any more money then you have to be.
At this point, you might want to consider a reduction gear for your electric motor. This is usually done for maximum efficiency. If you bought a car with a manual transmission, you simply pin the existing manual transmission in the first or second gear. If you have the money and want to make sure that your car is as light as it can be, you can have a custom reduction gear made.
Once the reduction gear has been completed, you are now going to mount the controller.
From here you you need to find the space and build your brackets to hold your car’s batteries. Install them. If you went with the sealed batteries, they can be fit in just about anywhere and you don’t have to worry about keeping them level.
Now, wire the batteries and controller to the motor. You will want to use #00 gauge wielding cable.
If you chose to keep the air conditioning in building your own electric car, this is when you are going to wire up and mount an electric motor for the air conditioner compressor.
At this point you are going to install the electric water heater and plug it into the heater core.
Power breaks need a vacuum pump for the brake booster. If you didn’t keep the power breaks, disregard this step.
Now you need to install the charging system. (Here is one of the reasons why removing unnecessary parts and wiring is needed.)
You will need to install a DC to DC to power your accessory battery.
You should install some kind of volt meter to keep you informed on how low your battery is. Consider it your new gas gauge.
In this step, you are going to rig up your potentiometers to your accelerator pedal. This potentionmeter is going to be hooked up to the controller.
Most Do It Yourself’ers that build their own electric cars use a DC motor usually use the reverse gear built into the manual transmission. If you’re using an AC motor with advanced controllers, run the motor in reverse but make sure that you have a switch that sends the reverse signal to the controller. Depending on which one you use, you may need to install some kind of reverse switch and wire it to the controller.
You’re almost done! Now you are ready to install a large relay (some call it a contactor) that connects and disconnects the battery pack from the controller. This is how you’re going to turn the car “on” when you’re ready to drive it. You need this relay to carry the hundreds of amps and also do a serious jump (96 to 300 volts) without holding an arc.
In your last step to build your electric car, make sure you rewire your ignition switch so that you can run all your new electric equipment, including your contactor, safely.
Build Your Own Electric Car – The Conclusion
Make sure your batteries are fully charged and that you’ve tested everything before giving the car it’s Maiden Voyage. When you finally decide to build your own electric car, it is easy with the right tools, and cost effective, too.