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Has anyone built from scratch?

6351 Views 26 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Thumper
Hi. I'm fairly new here and have been fascinated by the wisdom and information available here. I am, however, intrigued because there seem to be very few people building from scratch and those vehicles which are aren't usually for road use.

I reckon that if a car were build from scratch and some concessions were made to the necessities of weight, rolling resistance and aerodynamics, and one modified one's expectations of what the car could do (i.e. accept that there is limited boot space etc.) then the performance and range for a given elecrical setup could be significantly improved.

I've built a few vehicles and reckon (if using LiPos) that a 2-seater vehicle could come in well under 300kg without passengers, if not close to 200kg and have a CDA of under 0.2 if well designed.

Has anyone tried to build from scratch or have any advice on such a policy? There must be something I'm missing.

Thoughts and inspiration welcome
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Ok, well it started with Ford Greenpower, which was pretty basic. Then I got involved with solar cars at uni and built one which we got road legal (with certain restrictions) in the UK. Then we built this one to race in Australia (see below, white one). Seeing what we achieved and, moreover, what some of the more experienced teams were able to do with a 2kw continuous, 5kw max setup has convinced me that there is mileage in electric cars (although I remain unconvinced by solar). One team clocked 157kph and the winners in Australia averaged 100kph over 3000km on an average of about 1.6-1.8kw.

I take your points, these were expensive vehicles to build but I wouldn't be looking to do quite such a Hi-tech job and the whole solar aspect would be cut out. I'm quite happy to compromise on space, handling (to a degree) and safety (I already accept that if I crash I'm basically done for). Fortunately the UK makes it relatively easy to get home builds legal (my runabout is an ICE trike).

What I would be planning is a lightweight spaceframe chassis (probably alloy) with two hub motors driving rear wheels and a single front wheel. Looking for a total power of about 10-15kw if I can find motors with adequate starting torque. Encapsulate the whole thing in a balsa and GRP shell (because I can't afford Nomex or carbon and don't have the facilities for anything but a wet layup). The shape of the car is inspired by one built a few years ago by Bochum and was actually designed as a potential two seater (yellow, below)

Happy to answer any questions or offer any ehlp I can.


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Very true, but I'm not talking about a viable production vehicle or even one with resale value above that of the components. I'm talking about an efficient design which has practical performance, is minimal and which is safe enough that I am happy to drive it. I admit it is ambitious and not to everone's taste but I think it could be practical for getting from A to B, and I don't see why rain should be a problem. Strong winds, however, might be a concern.

These cars were driven through cities and raced on the highway overtaking and being overtaken by two or three trailer road trains so they're not as vulnerable as they may appear.

building a car that proves a concept or wins a race means very little in the real world of 1-ton trucks, stop-n-go traffic, parking, freeways, 50mpg winds, rain, ice, snow, 16yr old drivers, 96 year old drivers, etc, etc. It isn't about whats POSSIBLE, it is about whats PRACTICAL and SAFE.
Thanks, looks like a pretty interesting company, I'll have a browse. You're right, getting the chassis safe and legal is the toughest part.
Good thoughts everyone, thanks.
I've already been looking at locost chassis and they look promising with some modification.

As for real world practicalities, the idea is to be able to transport one or two people and an overnight bag, not do the weekly shop or collect a ton of hardcore. It isn't aimed at any market at all, just my own enjoyment and a steep learning curve. That said it won't be the first time I've built from scratch, just the first EV, and the first where weight and aero are a consideration.

Good points re. hub motor weight and two wheels at the front, although I've never had any complaints about the handling of my ICE trike with a single front wheel.
I'd also second Todd's reasons.;)

I want to have the feeling of personally creating something from the ground up and only using those parts that I cannot (or cannot justify to) make for myself.

I am aiming for a 70mile round trip at 70 mph to get myself to work and back with the option of carrying a little light luggage/shopping and/or a passenger.
Though I could do that with a standard converted vehicle I can build a little lighter to save battery pack capacity and have a vehicle that only meets my requirements and not requirements that I don't need.

Also for the effort involved in finding the time and money to invest in it I want something that I will 'love' and 'cherish' more then a random cheap mass market hatchback that I have no personal connection with.

I look forward to how your designs develop here, Lupin.:)
Thanks, that's very much my perspective. I'll keep working on it.
Astonishing build, very nice work. Thanks for sharing. I may well have some big questions once I've digested your site.
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