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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Edit: Never mind, I was wrong. See post #8 for details. Sorry.

I thought it was weird that there are lots of fully custom (ICE) cars, and lots of cars converted to electric, but no fully custom electric cars (starting with welding up a custom frame). I think I now better understand why.

If I make something with two wheels, I can build basically anything I want, because motorcycles aren't very regulated. If I build something with three wheels, I can make anything I want, because that's legally a motorcycle.

If I build something with four wheels, and an old gasoline engine, I can make anything I want, because that gets titled based on the year of the engine.

And I think that's all great.

But if I build something with four wheels, and no internal combustion engine, I need to comply with the same laws as commercial automobile manufacturers, for the current year. Complicated things like air bags.

Which *effectively* makes it impossible to make a completely custom electric car.

Which is terrible, if you care about making things, and reducing emissions.

I could build what I want with an old gasoline engine, but that seems like a huge step backward. I'd rather fix the laws.

What do we want the laws to actually be? I feel like one of the simpler options would be to require custom built electric cars to comply with the same laws as cars built with a T Bucket frame. That looks like 1927.

(I'm not sure how much this varies by state, I'm in New Hampshire.)
 

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I don't think that is correct
As far as I know that would vary from state to state - there are several electric "kit cars" on the road in the USA

My car is a completely home made special - but I do live in NZ
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I read about a guy who built a locost (seven) based car with a gas engine, who was told he'd need to come back with air bags, in New Hampshire. Then he found a different inspector who knew a lot more who titled it based on the year of the engine.

I'd love to read the actual laws, they seem hard to dig up.

I'd also love more info on electric kit cars.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks. I saw the Factory Five 818. That's an ICE kit. I'd guess it was built with an old gas engine, titled, then converted to electric.

Your other link is a Google search for "electric locost", I have not yet seen anything there about anybody titling an custom electric in the US.
 

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The factory five was built from a kit with an electric motor NOT an old kit modified

There are several hits from the USA on the electric locust - you just need to follow them

I would suggest that you contact your local licensing agency

I don't know of ANY that use the engine's date as anything at all
The ones I have seen use use the date of the chassis - and most of them have allowances for home built or low volume vehicles
So you don't have to obey the very latest regulations for high volume manufacturers
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for your help, you're correct, my panic was poorly founded. The information it was based on is false.

Digging through an ancient thread of mine, I found, for New Hampshire:

http://www.diyelectriccar.com/forums/showpost.php?p=181745&postcount=13

CHAPTER Saf-C 3200 OFFICIAL MOTOR VEHICLE INSPECTION REQUIREMENTS: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rules/state_agencies/saf-c3200.html



Which looks like it defines everything required in a car in New Hampshire.



Saf-C 3203.01 Items to be Inspected.
Seems to list all required components.


The only mention of airbags is of the sort used for suspension. The OBD section explicitly says it's only for gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Looks like I'll need some kind of very minimal bumpers. But this is looking survivable again.
 

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While completely custom (homebuilt) vehicles are possible so the motivation to find workarounds is reduced, I would still caution anyone against assuming that three wheels automatically means "motorcycle", or that motorcycle means no rules. There are still rules - different in every U.S. state and Canadian province - and some of them can be difficult to work with. For a manufacturer meeting federal regulations, the three-wheeler rules are easier to deal with than the car (four-wheeler) rules - thus the existence of the Polaris Slingshot - but for a homebuilder I'm not sure that the missing wheel is enough of a regulatory advantage to be worthwhile.
 

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I agree with Brian - I tried to lay my car out as a 3 wheeler - it was going to be bigger and heavier than a 4 wheeler
 

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This varies by state. Here in Arkansas there are provisions made for "specially constructed vehicles" - basically build what you want. When you are ready to get on the road you present it to the local HP Troop HQ for inspection. They make sure it meets all the safety requirements and go over your documentation (receipts for EVERYTHING) to make sure that you didn't chop it together from stolen bits. Once they are satisfied you can register it and start driving.

(The local HP Captain said my plan to smoosh my '64 Beetle and the electric JAC into some weird hybrid was a non-issue as far as they're concerned. I've got a title for the Beetle and they don't care what the control or propulsion system is. Not the same as the thread subject, but presented anyway for comparison.)

The motorcycle thing varies by state, too. In AR electric and <50cc two or three wheelers with pedals and single speed auto trans (clutch or direct drive) are "motorized bicycles", two and three wheelers 50cc-250cc are "motorized cycles" and any other two and three wheel vehicles are "motorcycles". (If memory serves, the last time I looked.) Each segment had their own provisions.

There are provisions for an "Electric Autocycle" - some weird three wheel electric - but the definition of that is very narrow and appears to be referring to a specific thing I can't quite figure out. Maybe like an Elio? Dunno.

NEVs come under the same provisions as ICE "low speed vehicles" and are subject to the same restrictions - no controlled access highways or interstates, nothing over 25mph, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Harmon
 
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