Can You Build Your Own Electric Vehicle?

0
electric, vehicle, EV, conversion, converted, smart, car, turne, conversions, germany
This Smart Car was transformed into an all-electric vehicle with just a few simple modifications (Source: Mercedes-Benz). Photo: Seth Leitman

Want to get in on emissions-free EV travel but can’t find a car that strikes your fancy? You’re certainly not alone. Roadblocks such as price, range anxiety and concerns over style and convenience lead many drivers to shy away from EVs. But what if we told you that you can build your own electric vehicle for the price of a new economy car?

The idea may sound far-fetched at first, but that’s exactly what Seth Leitman, consulting series editor of McGraw-Hill’s Green Guru Guides, creator of Green Living Guy and author of the book “Build Your Own Electric Vehicle,” is out to prove to America.

“We’re trying to prove that you can take any car and convert it to electric,” Leitman told Earth911. “You can do it right now and not just hypothetically.”

Electric Innovation: GoE3 Brings EV Charging Coast to Coast

In “Build Your Own Electric Vehicle,” Leitman attempts to convince auto shoppers of the benefits of electric cars and show them how easy it can be to have one of their own, whether by converting a standard car in their own garage, having their car converted by a company or purchasing an EV already on the market.

“I want you to build your own electric car…or to have your own electric car built. I want you, if you don’t want a conversion, to go get your Nissan Leaf or your Ford Focus Electric,” Leitman said. “I don’t care what you do, but build your own electric car for yourself. That’s the concept of this book.”

lithium, ion, batteries, battery, pack, A123, systems, electric, car, vehicle, engine
By adding a lithium ion battery pack, like this one from A123 Systems, and a few additional components, any car can be converted into an electric vehicle. Photo: Seth Leitman

For as little as $16,000, any auto owner can have a standard car converted into an all-electric vehicle with range comparable to that of the Nissan Leaf, Leitman said.

The price runs a bit higher for converted EVs with extended range, but don’t expect to spend more than you would on a new combustion car. For example, some American conversion companies can transform a luxury car, such as a Porsche, into a long-range electric vehicle for around $50,000 – which is far from pocket change but still a fraction of the cost of a new one.

“[Conversion] is an extremely viable option for people that want to do it,” Leitman said. “Because the car already has a VIN on it, it’s the easiest, cheapest way to do it.”

Bet You’ll Love: New Vehicle Cuts Typical Electric Cars In Half

Drivers can charge a converted EV the same way they would a purchased model. Additionally, a converted EV drives like a brand new car – meaning if you’re attached to a car that has seen better days, you can give it a second life by going electric, Leitman said.

The first edition of Leitman’s “Build Your Own Electric Vehicle,” which he co-wrote with Bob Brandt, was released in 2008. The third edition, which includes additional resources and stunning photographs of EV conversions, is set to debut in January 2013.

Since penning “Build Your Own Electric Vehicle,” Leitman partnered with McGraw-Hill to write and edit the Green Guru Guides, a collection of how-to books that will help you do everything from completing DIY home energy audits and solar panel installations to building your own electrified motorcycle.

Get Informed: Must-Ask Eco-Questions: Buying an Electric Vehicle

Mary Mazzoni

Mary Mazzoni

Based in the Phoenix metro area, Mary is a lifelong vegetarian and enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, biking and relaxing in the park. When she’s not outside, she’s probably watching baseball. She is a former assistant editor for Earth911.

More Posts