Step 9: Now you make one!

Picture of Now you make one!
An electric car really is fun to drive!

My house is on a renewable power program, where I get all my electricity over the power lines, but coming from bio-gas, wind turbines, and other renewable energy sources.

Doing a calculation on energy consumption, comparing gasoline and electricity, the car gets the equivelent of about 130 miles per gallon

This has been a fun project to work on and I have learned tons doing it. Keep in mind that I have NO background in electronics or engineering. All I did was go to the library, start talking to people, and learn what I could!

If I can do this, so can you!

So how about it? Are you building an electric car or have any other DIY Green Tech? Let me know!

You can stop by 300MPG.org to see the videos that my friends and I are making to teach you, step by step, how to build your own electric car!

I found that there was a lack of instructional videos in the world of electric cars. I bought a couple, and they all were TERRIBLE! So, I made my own! Stop by 300MPG.org to check it out!

Take care, and keep it green.



PS: if you enjoy the videos, please give them a high rating, this helps me to be able to keep making them!

For more photos of this project:
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radeq1 year ago
Hello, super inspiration and my big dream for many years! BUT, what about technical licence? I don't know US laws, but all european police patrols strictly check the "papers" of a car and "conersion" like this is direct order of very big fine :-(.
If it's easy or free in the US, I'm quietly envying, but I'm afraid, nor there is it possible...
bennelson (author)  radeq1 year ago
No matter where you live, make sure to check your insurance, title, registration, and any other legalities you need to take care of before doing an unusual car project.

You want to make sure ahead of time that you can legally drive your vehicle when it is all finished. The only issue that I had on my car was that it was difficult to pass pollution controls! Yes, even without an engine, I still had to do a smog test!

can you elaborate on the difficulties you had passing pollution controls? I thought it would only be a matter of showing the bureau of automotive repair that you had modified the car to run on electricity. do you have to pass some sort of electrical emissions test?

bennelson (author)  kleeem1 year ago

I live in one of the counties in south-eastern Wisconsin that requires emissions control testing. Usually, this just requires going to a specific location and having a test run using the ODBII port. Without the engine, the ODBII port has nothing to talk to! I originally mailed a letter to the state, explaining what I had done to the car, including photos showing the conversion process. The letter was returned, apparently unread, with a rubber-stamp response of "Please take your vehicle to your local emissions testing station." When I did that, the person there plugged in to the ODBII, which of course would NOT connect. She then said, "Let me try again...." thinking it was a bad connection, rather than the fact that THERE WAS NO ENGINE IN THE CAR! The local folks at that test center had NO idea how to deal with it. Even on all the forms, it listed GAS and DIESEL as the only choices for fuel types. Eventually, I was able to find a real person, with an actual job title, business card, and desk. With him, I was able to make an appointment at a "Technical Assistance Center", which was also further away than I could drive to, so I had to tow the car there. When I FINALLY got the car back into their shop and has somebody of authority look at it, the entire "inspection" consisted of me popping the hood and a man looking into the engine compartment and saying "Yep, there's no engine in there." He then signed the bottom of a form and faxed it in to the state and told me I should be set forever on pollution testing on the car. No joke, pollution testing on the car really was the hardest part of building it! It's a little different from State to State, and maybe even which county you are in. Some places no pollution testing. Also, many places exempt vehicles older than 1996, because that's when ODBII came in to play.

Moral of the story? Just figure out what you need to do before you start your project. The last thing you want is not to be able to legal drive the project you put so much work into. Does anyone here drive a Volt or Leaf? What did you have to do for emissions testing or pollution control? (Keep in mind that my project was built BEFORE those cars were available.)

bennelson (author)  bennelson1 year ago

Here's a photo of me in the middle of winter, posing happily as I just passed the "Yep, there's no engine in there," test.

bennelson (author)  bennelson1 year ago

For the full story on emissions testing, please visit: http://www.300mpg.org/projects/electro-metro/emissions-testing/

edenton11 year ago
Couldn't you hook up a alternator to help recharge the batteries
bennelson (author)  edenton11 year ago
What would you hook the alternator to?
msihcs3 years ago
First let me say I am extremely impressed that you would take the initiative to actually do this type of project I have dreamed of it but never actually took the leap.

My background is mechanical engineering (operating steam plants in the Navy) I do have a question though. My relatively average knowledge of electronics would lead me to think that as long as the motors are identical and the current to them is regulated properly that you could use 4 smaller motors (one at each wheel) instead of one big one to propel the vehicle. If run in parallel the motors should all turn at the same speed (I am sure a computer could further regulate the current to keep the wheels within a certain range of each other)

I ask this because the price of motors that are 25+ hp are a little high for the average person to purchase for their first EV project this (as BigTurd suggested) would also cut the need for a full sized transmission.
phase90 msihcs2 years ago
As Bennelson says, only two would be needed (not 4). There are additional issues with unsprung weight unless there are coupling shafts and the motors mounted on the frame. That would put a lot of stress on the suspension.
Second issue is synchronizing the two motors so they spin exactly the same speed (unless turning). If one spins faster (or slower) than the other, the car will pull to one side. Not fun. Dealing with tracking issues when turning due to a different turning radius on the wheels would be even harder. Better to drive a differential and let it do the work.
bennelson (author)  msihcs3 years ago
Yes, in theory, each of 4 motors would only have to do 1/4 the amount of work. I used the existing transmission in the car because the vehicle is already designed to run as front-wheel-drive. The transmission not only has the gearing, but it is also the differential and connects the "half-shafts" (sideways-traveling short drive-shafts) to the front wheels. The trouble with using four motors, one on each wheel, is that you will have to figure out where to mount each of those motors and how to connect it to each wheel.

In a brand-new, custom-built vehicle, it would be easy to design for. In fact, with the motors out of the way, and no traditional transmission, it would give you great design flexibility. Modern car manufacturers talk about that sort of thing all the time. But for a simple conversion of an existing car, just replacing the engine with an electric motor and adding batteries is far more straight-forward than designing/manufacturing/fabricating everything for multiple motors and driven wheels.

I think that a four-wheel-drive hub-motor vehicle would be a great project to see. It might start off best as an "off-road-only" vehicle, something like a dune-buggy, ATV or something similar.

The "Tropica" electric car, designed by Bob Beaumont, also the inventor of the Citicar, was rear-wheel drive with TWO electric motors. Each motor was mounted on the swing-arm of the wheel, along with a belt and pulley to get the gear ratio right from the motor to the wheel. Also, each of the two motors had its own controller.

As for the cost of motors. There are plenty of good ones that can be bought brand new, specifically for EV use for $1000-$3000. That was a little expensive for my project, which only cost about $1300 total. My motor was from an electric forklift. I bought it for $50, cleaned it up, and installed it in my car. It works great.

For more information on repurposing forklift motors to power electric cars, please visit this link.
darris3212 years ago
So there's still no power steering?
bennelson (author)  darris3212 years ago
This car never HAD power steering to start with. That's one thing I liked about it for an EV conversion.
Power steering runs off of engine power. If you remove the engine, you need to somehow provide power to the power-steering pump. That could be an additional electric motor or a pulley off the tail-shaft of the drive motor.

Some cars also have both a manual steering rack and a power steering rack, and you could swap it out, but that sure sounds like a lot of work.

My Geo Metro retains its original manual steering. It drives and steers great.
BigTurd3 years ago
Seems to me you could have saved a bit of power (range) by removing the transmission altogether. This cuts some HP loss thru the gears not to mention some weight etc.

The proviso being that the traction motor can reach the rpm's necessary for your type of driving conditions. If it can't, perhaps you can pop in a different rear end ratio that better suits your needs.

Another note, there's likely a way to use the motor for regenerative braking to charge the batteries. It won't completely recharge them but adds a little extra range.

Just some thoughts.
I'm fairly certain you need the gear reduction to increase the torque of the motor. You can get by with a "weaker" motor by allowing it to run at higher RPMs. The same thing applies to gas engines; they spin at thousands of RPMs only to be reduced and have their torque increased by the transmission.

Also, with DC motors at least, operating them at high voltage well below their RPM rating can cause them to burn out.
My thinking is, the existing rear end gear ratio is probably 3.4 : 1.
He might throw in a small gear reduction box if not already on the motor.
A gear reduction box is much smaller & lighter than a transmission.
This might provide all the gearing to keep the motor in its torque range?

I would like to create a diesel / electric like trains use.
Who knows...Might work in a car?

bennelson (author)  BigTurd3 years ago
It's a front-wheel-drive car, so there is no "rear-end" gear ratio per-se. I typically drive the car in 3rd gear, as though it were an automatic.

You are quite correct in that a gear reduction box would work well. The Solectria Force was a factory-built Geo Metro with an AC motor and a gear reduction box. They worked quite well and did freeway speeds. The Tesla roadster also uses a dedicated gear reduction.

In this case, is it worth it to do all the work to figure out what the correct gear reduction box is, fab mounts to connect it to the car, and pay all the money for the part, when the existing transmission works fine? I spent about $1300 for the entire project. I tried looking up a for sale gearbox from a Solectria and wasn't able to find any. At least the Geo Metro is a vehicle that somebody else has already designed a dedicated gear box for.

Ever lifted a Geo Metro transmission? It's not that big or heavy. I don't think there would be a lot of weight or space advantage to switching to a dedicated gear box. I have also heard of guys locking their transmissions in a single gear and removing the unused gears to save a little weight.
gunguru13 years ago
Just finished reading this great project! This has given me some really good ideas... I have an old beat up VW Fox. Its like a diesel VW pick-up with a rabbit or jetta front end. I doubt the engine will ever run again and was thinking how much more room for batteries could .........maybe add a little more range to it!!! I have programmed a lot of DC motor controllers in the past and think with a little research I could write some great acceleration ramps that could make it more efficient!! Also, I was wondering how the braking works? Is the controller programmed for a coast to stop function or does it ramp down? Ramping down could actually be sucking a lot of useless power. In some of the more modern AC controllers you can change the frequency and voltage and force the motors to go faster than line frequency (60hz) will push it! I have not tackled anything quite so big but, I did finish a 48v self powered bicycle trailer..... Anyway, nice job!! Nice to see someone using their head!!
Justdoofus3 years ago
I'm only 16, but I am about to pull the biggest project of my life soon. This.
I have already (before even driving!) started searching for alternatives, or more efficiency that I could squeeze out of an engine, or other power source.

I have tried multiple things so far, and my very latest project is a vapor carburetor. It simply pulls air into the canister, through the gasoline, and bubbles it. Bubbling causes the gas to vaporize. I even designed a heater out of copper wire as the vacuum causes the gasoline to slush up (close to freezing temperature) and reduces vaporization....

One thing that I have considered was an air powered engine. It's all in my head, you see. I already have an idea for a pneumatic lawn mower engine. I even wrote schematics and crap for designing. Just a matter of time until I can get myself into this garage soon..

Anyway, back to the subject (As you can see, I am very excited. Haha.)
Basically you have;
1. Electric Motor (48, 72v) Preferably fork lift 'drive' motor.
2. Adapter plate to fit motor and going to transmission drive gears.
3. Two piece coupler to connect motor to transmission..

My question(s) are:
You know how the engine and the transmission (Or clutch, rather) is connected to the transmission? I saw that in one of your pics, that the side was opened up, allowing for a clear view into the transmission where the drive-shaft goes into the transmission.

Is that not supposed to be sealed up and oiled properly in order to prevent overheating and preventing dust from going in? (Or is it because it's not a gasoline engine, and barely any heat is being created.)

And also, can't I just take a regular non-hollow tube and weld it straight to the transmission shaft?

Thank you for your time. Oh, and beautiful car for this project too. It's perfect. though I'd still prefer a small Mazda car. (Might beable to get that car... broken alternator, place I live at doesnt want to get it fixed because of many other electrical problems.)
bennelson (author)  Justdoofus3 years ago
A Mazda Miata would make a great little electric car. The only issue with that one is it's rather limiting in where you put the batteries.

On my project, the shaft of the motor is connected directly to the driven shaft of the transmission by a coupler that that fits between both shafts.

I don't see any reason to do any welding onto a transmission shaft - much easier to simply connect to it in the same way that the clutch disc did.

The bell housing of the transmission really isn't sealed up all that well, even when stock on a gas car. That's the space for the clutch and flywheel. There should be a bearing on the transmission driven shaft back IN the transmission a bit. No matter what, you need to make sure that the outside end of the transmission shaft gets supported. Typically, it goes into a bearing in the middle of the flywheel. On a clutchless conversion like mine, it is supported directly by the coupler and motor shaft.
That's exactly the car I was thinking. The only place that I can see to place the battery pack(s) would be under the seat, or in place of the seat. I'm probably going to be the only person in the car all the time. So it doesn't matter about the seats in the back.

Anyway: I still don't see how I can connect it to the transmission. Does the clutch bolt to the transmission?..
Also if I wanted a clutch, can I just go the simpler (I wouldnt say that) route and just place the electric motor shaft directly onto the clutch as if it were an engine?
dpater4 years ago

Put these words in You-Tube search


you will love it!
bennelson (author)  dpater3 years ago
Yeah, I am familiar with the White Zombie. It's a very cool car. A while back, I got to see one of the other cars designed by Plasma Boy. Very nice car.....
riddler3573 years ago
Great Idea!!!

was wondering ..and is a probably a stupid question but the motor you used is it a DC motor? I can't image it being a AC with getting a converter. I know they have DC motor but they are really small HP, but i guess you wouldn't need it for a small car. I was thinking of converting my truck into a eletric truck, with a few mods on it. I was also thinking that i could use some solar cells to keep a charge, but not sure if that would work. Anyway great project!!!
Fords are easy to work with, as they have electric power steering and electric power brakes. Electric ford focus too expensive? make your own!
alysssalyn6 years ago
I just sat for 2 hours and read this whole blog. I have a 93 Pontiac Sunbird... its a heavy and busted up load of dirt... I live in Wisconsin and was trying to figure out WHERE you live cuz all of it looks so familiar. Piggly Wiggly... haha. I'm so against gasoline cars but I can't go anywhere unless I want to take four days to walk to the grocery store... haha. I love that you did this. It makes me want to SOOOO BAD. but I know nothing about cars and because of that my Ponti has little to no liquid in it... (windsheild wiper fluid, coolant, no oilchange in months... run outta gas constantly) its goin downhill fast but everytime I do put something in it its usually wrong or i have a busted line.. i hate cars. i'm rambling... this was awesome to read! just lettn you kno haha
bennelson (author)  alysssalyn6 years ago
I'm in Oconomowoc, WI. Come see me sometime.

We also have a group of guys who meet regularly in the Milwaukee area to work on electric vehicle projects.

for details


First of all, I found your "instructable" very informative. I am an EE (in your area) with some past experience on the Railroad which translates well into electric cars. I have been thinking about working on a project myself and checking out your meetings. I'll go to the link you provided and see if I can find out when the next meeting is from the web-site.

Thanks for the Info
bennelson (author)  flas10134 years ago
The Milwaukee Electric Car Club currently meets at the Milwaukee Makerspace. ( http://www.milwaukeemakerspace.org )

Come on out during a meeting to make new friends and work on electric cars.
I'm from Milton,Wisconsin nice I'ble by the way! 5 stars in my book
I KNEW IT! i drove thru there once and thought it was the strangest out of the way town hahaha... but i shouldnt talk my hometown is black earth. im currently living in chicago but moving back to madison when i start college in the fall FINALLY. i'll check it out!
Lasant4 years ago
First off, this is beautiful and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing.

I was curious as to whether it would be feasible to integrate some sort of generator with the sole purpose of charging the batteries as your drove - increasing the distance you could drive on a single charge.
bennelson (author)  Lasant4 years ago
As a matter of fact, you could. This would be called a serial hybrid and is the concept that the Chevy Volt uses. See my further experimenting with a generator in the car at: http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Plug-In-Hybrid-Car/
Badass! I can't wait to read it in further detail. This is so exciting. Thanks for the quick response.
tizart74 years ago
Inspiring ible !!!!

I am based in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Middle East. Gas is cheaper than water here but I would really like to try making an electric Car down here.

Keep up the good work. Now I will start looking for some good size Forklift motors.
ve2ypd4 years ago
vraiment super...félicitation , très beau projet
Very nice project. In Germany this is not possible because the local "TÜV" (german Technical Inspection Association) would say NO to such a selfmade electric car.
martyjr94 years ago
nice mod how do you shift the 5 speed tranny with no clutch ease it in and let the synchros do the work?
bennelson (author)  martyjr94 years ago
You just shift. It really is WAY easier than you think it is. The electric motor does NOT put pressure on the drive system the way a gas engine would. It's pretty easy to put in and take out of gears without any clutch at all. Also, since the electric motor has a wider range of RPM that the gas engine did, AND more torque, I shift a lot less. First gear is totally un-needed. The motor actually has enough torque to pull away from a dead stop in 5th gear (although slow and using lots of amps.) 2nd gear will do 0-35mph 3rd gear will do 0-45 mph. Most of my driving is in town in 25 mph zones, so I just put it in 2nd and use it like DRIVE in an automatic.
ceknight5 years ago
Probably one of the best done Instructables I've seen yet! Very inspirational! Has me wanting to get right out there and do the same. Of course, might have been better suited when I lived on the pancake flat Eastern Shore of Maryland. Not too conducive to the hills and long distances up here in Vermont. Impressive.
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