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Published on January 11th, 2014 | by Derek Markham


Has The Time For Open Source DIY EVs Come?

January 11th, 2014 by  

Originally published on Planetsave.

Zwheelz DIY electric car

Image: ZWheelz.com

To usher in the era of the electric car, it might be necessary to take the concept of electric vehicles out from under the umbrella of car manufacturers and put it in the garages and backyards of DIY and open source enthusiasts.

While there are some really great electric cars on the market, such as the Tesla and the Nissan LEAF, the price tag on them is enough to put many of us off of the idea of owning and driving one. And aside from the initial cost of buying one, there’s the fact that the electric cars currently for sale don’t lend themselves to customization or modification, so if the assembly line models don’t quite fit the needs of a potential electric car owner, it’s not very likely that people will buy one and then mod it themselves in their own garage, if not for the proprietary components, then for fear of voiding the warranty.

However, there is another choice for getting behind the wheel of one of these clean cars in the near future, and that’s through building your own. And thanks to the work of people such as Gary Krysztopik, who has been working toward designing a viable open source DIY electric car, and one which is scalable and can be built with a combination of off-the-shelf components and custom parts fabricated with CNC machining.

Krysztopik, who is an electrical engineer, began his DIY electric car journey after watching the documentary “Who killed the Electric Car” in 1997, and since then has not only done electric car conversions (about which he says, “I realized there was no money at all in conversions.”), but has gone on to build his own three-wheeled electric car. He’s now become a DIY EV evangelist, and wants to take the mystery and complexity of electric cars out of the equation by showing Americans how easy it is to build their own plug-in electric vehicle.

Last year, Krysztopik launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to further his dream of a true open source DIY electric car, but wasn’t able to get much traction from backers, raising only a small percentage of his goal.

“This all-composite vehicle will be based on the first successful prototype, using the experience gained in the construction of a composite kit airplane and from the aerospace industry. Today’s technology brings us advanced composite materials and inexpensive CNC routers and 3D printers which allows a guy-in-a-garage to become an entrepreneur and produce high-quality frames and body components. Local manufacturing will reduce carbon footprints and create clean tech jobs. Advances in large format lithium batteries will keep this modular design on the cutting edge of electric vehicle range and performance. The open-source format will attract a design community to refine the design and add more options and body styles.” – ZWheelz

According to PluginCars, Krysztopik and his wife have sold their house and bought an RV, and will soon undertake a journey around the US about building your own plugin electric car, and trying to “create a foundation” for DIY electric cars.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of open source DIY electric cars, Krysztopik’s website is a wealth of information, including some CAD files and spreadsheets about battery size options for electric vehicles. 


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About the Author

Derek lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, fungi, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves fresh roasted chiles, peanut butter on everything, and buckets of coffee. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!

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