I’m a big fan of electric cars. Electric motors have some major advantages over internal combustion engines:
- 100% torque from 0 RPM – immediate power off the line
- Linear torque delivery – no “lumpy” torque delivery like turbo engines or diesel engines
- Lower complexity – an electric motor basically has 1 moving part while IC engines have hundreds
- Sustainable – oil is a finite resource and burning it causes all kinds of externalities. Electric cars are far more efficient and can be powered from renewable energy, making them far more sustainable.
The problem is that most electric cars today are either too heavy and slow (Nissan Leaf) or too big and expensive (Teslas).
I would like to have a small, nimble electric car that can corner corner and accelerate well. Electric motorcycles, like those from Zero and Brammo, are close, but motorcycles in general can never approach the cornering ability of cars. So my goal is to design and build an electric car that is small, lightweight and fast.
As an undergrad I was president of our FSAE formula racing team. I got to help out with some of the manufacturing of our car and race it in competition. We had an amazing team of super talented engineers that I learned a lot from.
As an undergrad I also managed to build a dune buggy in my spare time:
When I moved to Houston for my first job I bought another dune buggy and did a lot of restoration work on it:
Through these projects I’ve developed a design philosophy that is guiding me during this electric car project.
I’ve been following Dennis Palatov over at dpcars.net for a number of years now as he’s designed an built a few cars. I’ve really enjoyed how he has put his full design process out in the open for everyone to learn from and I’m hoping to do the same. It took Dennis 4 years from first sketch in May 2002 to first drive in September 2006 – so I’m mentally prepared that my project could take just as long.
I’ve also been following the story of Local Motors and love their revolutionary approach to crowdsourcing the design of the cars and having the owners build the cars themselves at local “micro factories.” In 2011 I flew down to Chandler, Arizona to meet the team and understand the business better.
I truly believe that this type of business structure – crowdsourced design and micromanufacturing – is not only the future of carmaking but the future of manufacturing. Once this project is further along, I’m hoping that this business model will allow everyone who wants one of my cars to have one.
So follow me along on the design journey…