How to Build Your own Electric Vehicle in 5 Easy Steps

If you’re looking to up your DIY game or gain cheap entry into the EV industry, keep reading. A number of people have built their own electric cars in the past, so why not give it a try yourself?

Below are the basic steps to get you one your way. You will, of course, need to have a bit of mechanical and electrical knowledge if you want to attempt this.

1) Buy a Cheap Car

This doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just something that rolls and is cheap. The lighter it is the better. Once you get it home, or wherever you’re going to work on it, these are the things to strip out:

  • Engine
  • Exhaust system
  • Starter
  • Gas tank
  • Coolant tank
  • Radiator
  • Fuel lines and filter

2) Get a Motor

At the heart of every electric car sits a good motor. Whether you buy new or secondhand is up to you, it all depends on your budget. Check out local garages or save some hassle and pick one up on eBay.

Electric Motor: Photo Credit – SciFi Geek (flicker)

3) Line up Transmission

An electric motor will be powering your car instead of a gas one, but the power will still go through the transmission. Use an adapter plate to connect the transmission and new electric motor.

Adapter plate: Photo Credit – SciFi Geek (flicker)

After this, you’ll use a coupler to transfer the rotary power of your electric motor to the transmission.

4) Batteries

A motor is no good without some batteries to power it. Again you can go as cheap or as pricey as you like. If you’re buying secondhand, however, you’ll need to test the batteries to make sure they still have some life in them.

Once you find a place for the batteries, you can hook them up to the motor. Of course, if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t mess around with live batteries. Ebay could be your best bet, as there are quite a few batteries eBay, some with adapters.

5) Get a Controller

The controller is a solid state box and vital component in any EV. It sits between the batteries and the motor, dictating the amount of power going to the motor. It’s essentially the throttle in an EV.

Controller and batteries: Photo credit – John Honniball (flicker)

The voltage and amperage of the controller will impact the car’s acceleration, top speed, and range. So, if you’re going to skimp on something for this DIY project, don’t let it be the controller.

These are the basic steps to building your own DIY electric vehicles.

There are now an increasing number of businesses offering conversion kits:

  • Zero EV (Bristol, UK)- conversion using Tesla parts, as well as extensive range of other EV parts.
  • (US)- offers kits for classic cars.
  • (Canada) has a kit.
  • (US) has various components.
  • EV4U – (US) custom conversions and parts.

Don’t forget to have a look at eBay– various kits appear on here from time to time.

There are also an increasing number of businesses specializing in conversions:

By Robert Bacon
Updated: February 23, 2019