How to Make a Simple Electric Car

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An electric car is just a car powered by an electric motor rather than a gasoline combustion engine. In fact, many electric cars are designed by stripping a gasoline-powered car's interior and converting the motor to run on electricity. Thus, the two are indistinguishable except for the silence of the one powered by electricity.


While there may be no visible exterior differences, there are major differences under the hood. The combustion engine is replaced by an electric motor; the electric motor, in turn, is powered by a controller and the controller gets its power from a battery. Finally, the battery, which is rechargeable, gets its power from the electric grid.


An electric car is a simple concept and actually quite easy to make, as it is just a series of batteries attached to an on-off switch, which is attached to a motor.

Things You'll Need

  • Old manual car, such as a Volkswagen bug
  • Custom mounting brackets to mount the motor
  • Controller
  • Converter
  • Batteries
  • Battery box
  • #00 gauge welding cable
  • Wrenches and other hand tools
  • Car jack
  • Pot box
  • Put blocks under the engine compartment to catch the engine. Jack up the car high enough to slide the motor out from under it. Remove the bolts from the engine completely. The engine should drop onto the blocks. (Be careful not to be under the engine when it falls.) Slide the old engine out from under the car.

  • Remove the gas tank. Remove the exhaust system and the clutch.

  • Attach an adapter plate to the transmission and mount the motor. This may require custom brackets.

  • Create a reduction gear by pinning the manual transmission in first or second gear. You can buy a special reduction gear that will be lighter, but it is more expensive and unnecessary. Pinning the transmission in first or second will work just fine.

  • Mount the controller and the converter. This is the power circuit unit that lets you switch from AC to DC.

  • Take out the back seat of the bug. If you are not using a bug, you may want to use the trunk for the battery box. Build a battery box and install the batteries. Wire the batteries and motor to the controller with #00 gauge welding cable.

  • Install a charging system. The onboard charging system allows the car to be plugged directly into grid power so that the batteries can be recharged.

  • Install a volt meter; this replaces your gas gauge. Install a pot box or potentiometers and attach to the accelerator pedal and the controller. Install a contractor or relay to turn the car on and off. Hook the contractor or relay to the ignition switch.

  • Test to make sure everything works. Test the brakes and tires as well. It never hurts to be safe.

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