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Parts for building an electric mini car(not street legal).

2427 Views 42 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Functional Artist
I would like to build a smaller mini car, about the size that kids would drive and I'm not looking for it to be street legal. Most of the posts on here are for conversions, but I want to do this from scratch and design the frame/chassis myself and buy the rest of the components. This is my first electric car project, and so far the parts I think I will need are. I would like to make it a sports car/Corvette style, and I have experience in 3D designing the frame & chassis, so I am not too worried about that.

Motor Controller
Steering system

I'm sure this is not a comprehensive list, so please let me know if I am missing something crucial. I have had no luck getting a guide on building one either, so if you know of one I would appreciate that.
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Howdy & welcome!

What style of kart do you have in mind?
Here's some food for thought ;)

My version of a Mini-Slingshot
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I get most of my kart parts from BMI Karts (here in Ohio)
1" Axle (kit) with most of what would be needed for the rear axle ;)
1" Live Go Kart Axle Kit - Complete (#35 Chain) | 566135 | BMI Karts And Parts
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I've built them both ways (live axle & differential)
...& personally, I feel that a differential is a PITA (especially if used off road)
...but, each has its pluses (+) & minuses (-)

Kinda like you could mount & use a drum brake or a disc brake
...& either one will stop the kart

How powerful of a kart are you thinking?
...acceleration? speed?
...& range?
a top speed of 50-55mph
Um...have you ever rode ~3" off of the ground an open vehicle
...going ~50 MPH?

I have
...& it seems/feels like your going ~100 MPH o_O

Check out my Excalibur kart has dual 48V 1,000W motors
...& the top speed is (only) ~20 MPH

I know 20 MPH is like School Zone speed
...but, just watch the video ;)
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Well, here's a little more FYI:
My Hell-raiser kart motivated by a 48V 5,000W motor (~6.5 HP)
...& powered by a 48V ~50AH battery pack (~45 lbs.)

The acceleration is great
...its top speed is ~36 MPH

The Power Meter is a PZEM-051(~$22.00)
...& it just works with a Shunt, to gather & calculate the power data.
PZEM-051 100A DC LCD Digital Panel Power Meter KWh Voltmeter Ammeter With Shunt | eBay

The Speedometer is GPS (~$28.00), no sensors
...or calibration is required
Universal Digital GPS Speedometer Head Up Display With Alarm Function Automatic | eBay

I explain some of the features of the Power Meter
...& point out the Shunt, in this video
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I don't think that "live axle" means what you think it does. It just means that the axle is powered, not that the two sides are solidly connected together.
Hey Brian,

Maybe in the automotive world
...but, in the go kart (not street legal) mini-car "world" there are usually (3) options:

A live axle, which is usually referred to as a solid rotating axle, that is mounted on bearings
...& is solidly attached to & "drives" both "drive" wheels

A dead axle, is usually referred to as an axle that is solidly attached to the vehicle
...with the bearings mounted in/on the wheel(s) themselves
...& the wheels rotating independently, of each other
...& "if" used as a "drive" axle, only (1) wheel is usually "driven" (AKA (1) "wheel peel") ;)

A differential is usually (2) separate axles that "drive" the "driven" wheels via a differential unit
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Hey Brian,
You may want to do some more research (on this one) ;)

For example:
Go Kart-Live Axle kit
6" Live Axle Kit

Go Kart-Dead Axle (Drive wheel with bearings & drive sprocket)
145x70-6 Drive Wheel Assembly Complete with 5/8" Bearings, Sprocket & Brake Drum

Go Kart (riding mower) Differential
Peerless 100-224 Differential 1" Axle | Peerless | Brands |

For example:
This kart (Excalibur) has a "live axle"
...& this video shows "it" pretty well

This kart (E-Lemon_Aid) has a "dead axle"
...& this video shows "it" pretty well

This kart (Double Trouble) has a differential
...& this video shows "it" pretty well
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What kind of axle is it when the front wheels fall off from the impact loads due to popping wheelies? 😂
That would be an axle that's NOT being "operated within its specified parameters" ;)

For example,
The front & rear axles on my !ARRIBA! kart would both be considered to be "Dead Axles"
...because neither of the "axles" themselves, actually rotate

The front wheels have bearings in them & are mounted on spindles
The rear wheels also, have bearings in them (plus, the drive sprockets)
...but, are mounted on a "full length" axle
...& since that axle doesn't rotate, the "ends" are, or could be considered, the same as spindles
Again, that's not what "live axle" means; "live" just means driven. "Solid" for both wheels on the same shaft, sure.
I listed that as an alternative.

No, a dead axle isn't driven at all, and the term "dead" refers to the lack of drive, not anything to do with suspension.
I listed one driven wheel as an alternative.

That's two axle half-shafts, which are part of one axle assembly.
Hey Brian,
After re-reading both of our responses, it looks like & I think we are kinda saying the same things (y)

IMO you have a lot to add to this "field"
...but, continually correcting folks gets irritating :(

* Ya know how Remy gets (sometimes) :p

It's better when you (& Remy) actually "join" the conversation
...& help further the discussion ;)
The terminology is a bit different, because we're talking about (2) different "fields"

You're referring to full size cars
...& I'm (& the topic of this thread) referring to (not street legal) "electric mini-cars"


I posted links to the (3) different types of mini-car/go kart axles (that I referred to)
...& I even posted (3) videos showing "real world" examples of all (3) types (in use)

To be clear ;)

A Live axle refers to an axle that is "alive"
...meaning "it" rotates, with the wheels

A Dead axle refers to an axle that is "a dead"
...meaning "it" doesn't rotate with the wheels

A Differential, on an "axle assembly"
...or incorporated into a motor (case)
...or even as a totally separate unit is "basically" a box of gears
...that transmits the rotation from the motor (or engine) to the wheels via "live axles"

The rear axle, on most RWD cars would be considered a "live" axle (because the axles, rotate)
...with a differential (incorporated) to aid maneuverability
...& the front "axle" would be considered a "dead" axle (because it doesn't rotate)
* Technically, (2) totally separate spindles are not really "an axle" (as a component)
...but, that's another subject

The front axle(s) on most FWD cars (again, technically NOT "an axle") are considered "live" axles (because they rotate)
...& the rear axle (more axle like) would be considered "dead" (because "it" doesn't rotate with the wheels)
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I'm with Brian on this
A "Live axle" is a driven axle - like the old Escorts and Cortinas - an axle that is one piece - normally with a diff in the middle

Would the rear (driven) axle (that does not rotate) on the yellow go kart, in the video that I posted previously, be considered a "Live axle"?

...or another example

Bicycles, minibikes & motorcycles all ride on axles
...are their rear (driven) axles (that do not rotate) considered "live"?
Now, you'all are just confusing folks :rolleyes:

"If" an axle (or any shaft, really) rotates it's considered "live"
...& "if" it doesn't it's considered "dead"

It doesn't matter "if" the axle is "driven" or not
...&/or "if" it's directly mounted to the chassis or suspended

Another example:
Hay Wagon (driven by horses & not by either of the axles)
..."if" the axles are mounted on bearings
...& turn, twist or rotate with the wheels
..."it" has "live" axles
..."if" the axles are not mounted on bearings
...& directly to the chassis
...& do not turn, twist or rotate with the wheels
...then, "it" has "dead" axles
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