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I wanted to get some opinions on this for an article I'm writing. I've noticed the DIY crowd has grown the last decade and a whole industry has sort of evolved for it. But with production EVs due out this year, how will that affect the DIY market?

One view is that most people who build an EV do it because that is the only way to get an EV, and the availability of vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf would put an end to the practice.

The other view is that mainstream acceptance and awareness of EVs, along with charging infrastructure, etc, will actually help the DIY EV market grow more.

Opinions?
 

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One view is that most people who build an EV do it because that is the only way to get an EV, and the availability of vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf would put an end to the practice.

The other view is that mainstream acceptance and awareness of EVs, along with charging infrastructure, etc, will actually help the DIY EV market grow more.
Both views are correct. Many are building b/c it's the only way to get an EV, and they're tired of/disappointed with the broken promises of the auto industry.

OTOH, many build b/c they like the process or the mainstream will never produce the vehicle they're looking for. Look at the Experimental Aircraft Assn. and how its grown, especially in the last 20 yrs. They're building vehicles way cheaper and often much more capable and advanced than the production vehicles.

Mainstream acceptance will greatly enhance availability of infrastructure and quality of components while lowering their cost.

I view the current homebuilt EV movement in much the same way as the PC movement of the 1970's/80's. They too were initially hobbyists, but we've now hit critical mass. EVs, being largely driven by electronics (pun intended), are experiencing Moore's law. Battery/storage technology, in particular, will double capacity while decreasing volume & cost every 18-24 months.

This is just the beginning. Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seatbelts and hang on tight - you're in for an electrifying ride.:D
 

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well said , I have flowin at 265 mph in carbon lance air , what a ride. with battery inprovement , that Lance will be faster ,cheaper, better. production ev's will bring a lot of parts to the diy'ers making it easer to build cars, airplanes, boats, off grid homes. I think these parts are one of the reasons the auto makers didn't want to make ev's .these parts give us resources
 

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I can't help but believe that the production vehicles being around will mean we'll finally be "normalized" and these places that don't want to deal directly with the DIY market will have vendors that cater to us. I could buy a production one but my hang-up with hybrids / EV's from the big companies is they constantly (so far) have made them look like vehicles from the Jetsons or impractical.
Give me a normal looking car with the EV drive and I'd be thrilled. But look at cars like the mini, it does what it does just fine but does it really have to carry a bigger price tag than a sedan? I'm not an early adopter of tech.
See I compare the looks I get around here when I mention I want to convert to electric to the looks I get when company comes over and offers to help clean up... they always come to me and ask where the big name cleaners are, you know the Pine-Sols or Mr. Clean or Scrubbing Bubbles and their residue... I hand them the baking soda and vinegar and they get all upity like I'm abnormal for not having chemicals in my house... Baking Soda does the odour absorption from upholstery just fine without aerosol's filling my home. Sprinkle on the couch, let sit for 30-60 mins and vaccuum up...
I get the looks whichever aspect comes up. Electric vehicle? Natural cleaning products? Oh and the plans for rain-water harvesting and some on-site power generation via wind or solar, those are projects for the winter reading though.
I get the same look when I pour our drinks in mason jars too, but why pay for cups mugs when the jars are sitting here waiting for the harvest and preserving to be done? :p
 

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The battery's are the problem with EV'S and it will stay the problem till there is hi production of Lithium batteries and this ONLY can come from car manufacturing. In short it will help the DYS to have OEM step in and make cheap batteries. Remenber 1 million ev vehicle sales could mean 10 million batteries made.
 

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well said , I have flowin at 265 mph in carbon lance air , what a ride. with battery inprovement , that Lance will be faster ,cheaper, better. production ev's will bring a lot of parts to the diy'ers making it easer to build cars, airplanes, boats, off grid homes. I think these parts are one of the reasons the auto makers didn't want to make ev's .these parts give us resources
One thing I find really exciting is the recent auto EV advances have made AERO EVs feasible. I have a kitplane (~50% done) that I going to divert to EV. There was a day-long seminar at Oshkosh this year on electric flight. It's really taking off.:D

However, I think you may have the auto manufacturers motivation wrong. I don't think we're even on their radar screens. Their motivation is to sell the fewest products to the most buyers. If they can't sell huge volume on a given model, they're not interested. Look at the EV-1 debacle - there was huge demand for the available vehicles but not multi-millions of buyers, therefore an EV-1 couldn't be profitable in their minds. Their business model is firmly rooted in 20th century mass market, assembly-line production.

Today's "Flat World" collaborative business model of production is going to eat big manufacturer's lunch. Look at how we are building our cars - we're grabbing chinese LiPO4's, a production de-ICE'd roller, engineers/designers from everywhere to build controllers and other ancillary equipment and then massage all these parts into amazing vehicles. For example take George Hamstra of Netgain Motors or the Hines' of Special Editions, Inc. with their speedster kit, and others too numerous to add here - If their products don't quite meet your needs, explain your requirements and they will probably tweak their designs or maybe even build you a one-off. Try that at GM. Further, look at the 'Zilla, Soliton, various BMS' and dashboard instrumentation out there - there are many smart entrepreneurs ready and willing to jump in, practically at a moment's notice, to solve any issues that come up.
 

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But with production EVs due out this year, how will that affect the DIY market?
I'd say there are lots of aspects to how production EVs will affect DIY projects... but the central issue is that as more people see one, drive one, and understand they CAN live with <100 mile daily range, then 100% (non-hybrid) EVs will gain acceptance and thus HELP the DIY project with possible re-sale or conversion service market.

Second major effect is that as production EVs come online there MAY be better battery solutions available; but the short-range impact might be negligible for DIYers because the production EVs are using the high-end small format cells (difficult to DIY), and AC motors (expensive to DIY). I would say that for the 10 year outlook there will be a good market for the DIY with large format Li, and DC motors because the turnkey price can be less than $20k including reasonable labor where the production Evs are probably not dropping below $30k.
 

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I believe it will have both effects, people who simply want an EV will now have the option to buy what is available, and as the OEM's get into this more and more technology will improve and the products available to DIYer's will evolve along with it. We may not get the same high tech AC drive systems that come out in the new BMW or Mercedes, however technology in general will evolve because there will be a market to support it. Gasoline engines have evolved considerably in the last hundred years, we could see the same evolution with electric vehicles (with a much better outcome) in the next hundred years. I just hope that something like the patenting and elimination from availability of large scale NiMH batteries doesn't happen again with an evolution of Lithium or the next big energy storage technology. Oil still rules this planet and it still has the potential to kill mass adoption of the electric (or alternative fueled) car.

Personally products like the leaf/volt etc don't sway my choice on converting a car because neither of those products fit what I'm looking for in an EV. Until the electric choices approach what's available in fossil fueled vehicles people like myself will still have no other choice but to build "their" perfect EV themselves. I am happy that charging stations could appear which would help extend the range and practicality of EV's for more of us.
 

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All good comments, however I'm of the relitivly strong belief that standard DIY projects will be hurt by production EV's. I have over 20K invested in my build using a 1987 MR2. As hard as I may try I know my car will never be able to compete with full production vehicle as far fit an finish, integration, no regen etc.... and frankly if you are throwing down 20+k on a project those are the kind of things you want. As production levels increase the price of full fledged production EV's will decrease while the Li battery costs in DIY market will likely increase with increased demand. At some point people are going to be saying, "yeah it would be fun to build my own EV, but I can buy a production one for nearly the same price, so what's the point?" not mention is it a lot easier to finance a new car then it is a DIY project. Going forward I think the old beat up escort conversion will be over and the only thing remaing will be the unique/classic builds, Like a classic corvette to EV conversion or something similar where the final product will be truely unique.
 

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Cars produced now have more HP and sport ability than they did back when the hot rodder crowd came out and started modifying cars. Did they go away?

There will always be a DIY crowd for the fringe. We'll just be making things like the Inhaler or White Zombie, or maybe buses and watercraft and such.

And you figure, the Leaf is not the Model T. Not everyone will go out and buy one. It will be probably another decade (if the current lot of electric themed vehicles pans out) before we get a fleet of EVs that will meet the wants of the broader community. In the mean time, the DIY community will benefit from increased interest, new product development, and larger production scale.
 

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As production levels increase the price of full fledged production EV's will decrease while the Li battery costs in DIY market will likely increase with increased demand. At some point people are going to be saying, "yeah it would be fun to build my own EV, but I can buy a production one for nearly the same price, so what's the point?" not mention is it a lot easier to finance a new car then it is a DIY project. Going forward I think the old beat up escort conversion will be over and the only thing remaing will be the unique/classic builds, Like a classic corvette to EV conversion or something similar where the final product will be truely unique.
First, Li-battery prices are NOT likely to increase for DIYers - OEMs are using different format cells and will be buying from either in-house or quasi-dedicated suppliers that don't/won't sell to us. Second, more people buying EVs will only strengthen my Moore's Law argument above causing more bang for our buck.

Yes, it won't make sense to convert that old escort, but only b/c people don't want a bland, (OEM) escort, they want something cool/classic (read corvette or my MG). Again, look at what's coming out of EAA-Oshkosh (like aeroscott's Carbon LancAir, not available from ANY OEM). We Electric Auto EAAers are the ground-bound equivalent to the Experimental Aircraft EAAers of Oshkosh. We build BECAUSE what we want isn't available from OEMs or b/c we like to create and build.

The more OEMs try to catch up to us, the faster technology becomes available, and the further we'll be ahead of the OEMs.
 

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At some point people are going to be saying, "yeah it would be fun to build my own EV, but I can buy a production one for nearly the same price, so what's the point?" not mention is it a lot easier to finance a new car then it is a DIY project. Going forward I think the old beat up escort conversion will be over and the only thing remaing will be the unique/classic builds, Like a classic corvette to EV conversion or something similar where the final product will be truely unique.
I think you have this part right. The Leaf at $25k after rebate makes it difficult to justify building a similarly spec'd conversion for basic transportation. When/if OEM prices start to drop it becomes a no brainer unless you want a specific vehicle or you just like the challenge of doing a conversion. However I suspect in the long run OEM EV's will help the DIY market by increasing the supply of affordable parts and building an EV aftermarket business, just as with ICE's.
 

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Second, more people buying EVs will only strengthen my Moore's Law argument above causing more bang for our buck.
I think it's a mistake to expect Moore's Law progression with batteries. An electrochemical product has completely different constraints than a micro chip. The characteristics of the lead acid battery has changed little in 100 years or so. I expect there is still room for improvement in different lithium technologies, but it's worth noting that our LiFePO4 prismatics have not improved in density, C rate, or price, in over a year.
 

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Still a different animal. Chips followed Moores Law and the improvements made it to market on a regular basis. Moore's Law states that the number of transistors that can be placed on a chip will double every 18 months. There has been no doubling of battery capacity in 18 months, I don't know if we've had a 10% improvement in that time period. Batteries do not seem to follow Moore's Law, nor should we expect them to.
 

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Still a different animal. Chips followed Moores Law and the improvements made it to market on a regular basis. Moore's Law states that the number of transistors that can be placed on a chip will double every 18 months. There has been no doubling of battery capacity in 18 months, I don't know if we've had a 10% improvement in that time period. Batteries do not seem to follow Moore's Law, nor should we expect them to.
I wasn't specifically saying batteries will adhere to Moore's Law but EV capability, being largely an electronic device, is likely to follow it. Think about it - a couple years ago the best range I could expect for my MG was 15-20 miles with PbA. Additionally, it would be over-weight and maxed out on storage just for the batteries - forget buying anything at the store; no room to put it.:eek: Now with TS or CALB cells, I can expect 40-50 mile range, have a vehicle lighter than the ICE version plus have room for a couple bags of groceries.:) That's a significant improvement just for storage.

There's also been major improvements in motors and controllers in the last year. They're just harder to quantify. But, we're now getting purpose-made devices instead of having to kluge together parts for jet engines, forklifts or grain silo ventilating fans.
 

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Production cars have not at all hurt the DIYer for gasoline powered cars. Guys that would normally build a car regardless of it's propulsion will still do so. It's a hobby more than a necessity.

Just as today there are lots of people building their own hot-rods and restoring classics, that will continue to happen with electric. A form of propulsion isn't the heart of a DIYer's hobby as much as the "doing it yourself" part.

If anything more people build cars now that are gasoline than ever before. With the huge selection of kit cars and classics to restore out there, there's been even more production towards DIYers than in the past. GM even released a smog-legal hot-rod motor called the "E-Rod" which is a 490HP LS3-based V8 and it will smog in anything you put it in.

This is something that will never go away. There will always be the guys out there that want to build their own stuff for one reason or another. My personal reasons are that I like to be different. I like to personalize and customize and what better way to do that than start from scratch?
 

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I wasn't specifically saying batteries will adhere to Moore's Law but EV capability, being largely an electronic device, is likely to follow it.
In truth an EV is an electro mechanical device. There aren't many areas for efficiency or power gains other than the batteries. Batteries limit power and range, and influence cost more than any other component. You can improve any other component as much as possible but it will have little effect without battery improvements.
 

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I think factory EVs will also open a new DIY EV market. The hot rodding of factory EVs. At first the automakers EVs will feel like a bunch of black boxes, but after a while people will find their way inside them and start tweaking.
 
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