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This High-Performance Electric Vehicle Kit Can Be Built in a Week
Photo by Sam Euston
Photo by Sam Euston

What started as an idea to produce our own simple, fun, affordable electric vehicle has evolved into a DIY project easily assembled by nearly anyone. The Switch defines a new class of auto — a lightweight, high-capacity, versatile electric vehicle (EV) that requires minimal resources to construct, assemble, and drive. It can be built in a single-car garage on jack stands, or even in a classroom — all you need is a small box of tools and a 6½-foot door, so it can drive out.

The Switch Lab

3-phase AC motor attached to swing arm. Photo by Sam Euston.
3-phase AC motor attached to swing arm. Photo by Sam Euston.
Get Switched On Specs and Options DIY kit: $14,000–$30,000 complete, depending on performance and range options; $6,950 without electrical components  Sporty rack-and-pinion steering; center, left-, or right-hand driver position  Accepts wide range of DC and AC motors  3-wheel disc brakes, independent front and rear  Regenerative braking (with AC motor option)   Batteries: Lead-acid or  lithium-ion, 10kWh–30kWh   Range:  45–135 miles (depending on battery option)  Charge time:  2.25 hours per 45 miles, for about $1 (220V 30A power outlet)   Gas mileage equivalent:  151mpge   Top speed:  Over 100mph (with AC motor option)   Acceleration: 0–60mph in  9 seconds (or faster with gearing options)  Turn radius: 38' or less   Weight:  1,350lbs (3-seater option)   Chain drive standard, belt drive optional  Street legal,  registered as a motorcycle — but doesn’t require helmet or motorcycle driver’s license!
Get Switched On
—Specs and Options—
DIY kit $14,000–$30,000 complete, depending on performance and range options; $6,950 without electrical components
Sporty rack-and-pinion steering; center, left-, or right-hand driver position
Accepts wide range of DC and AC motors
3-wheel disc brakes, independent front and rear
Regenerative braking (with AC motor option)
Batteries: Lead-acid or lithium-ion, 10kWh–30kWh
Range: 45–135 miles (depending on battery option)
Charge time: 2.25 hours per 45 miles, for about $1 (220V 30A power outlet)
Gas mileage equivalent: 151 mpge
Top speed: Over 100mph (with AC motor option)
Acceleration: 0–60mph in 9 seconds (or faster with gearing options)
Turn radius: 38′ or less
Weight: 1,350lbs (3-seater option)
Chain drive standard, belt drive optional
Street legal, registered as a motorcycle — but doesn’t require helmet or motorcycle driver’s license!

It all starts in The Switch Lab — a complete DIY kit and education system consisting of workshops, written and video instructions, detailed plans, and all the parts. This all-inclusive package enables individuals, schools, or businesses to assemble their own version of the EV. (Skilled builders can go it alone with just a DIY kit.)

The Switch Lab workshops help educators and builders gain the confidence and understanding to complete the project. Teachers appreciate how our workshops break a complex technology into clear step-by-step modules. They’re also pleased with the optional curriculum — a classroom and lab in a box. “It’s really plug and play,” said Roger Pressley of Central Academy of Technology and Arts in Monroe, North Carolina. “Any school can do this, regardless of the tools or shop facility. You can start with any space.”

Students seem invigorated by the course, and some are asking if they can build the Switch as a business. Whether they become Makers, welders, or engineers, the hands-on learning gives them lifelong lessons, building self-confidence and real-world skills. “It’s not just a high school class, it’s something you take with you,” commented a student from Venture Academy in California.

The Driving Experience

Under the dash: dual brake pedals, steering linkages, and accelerator — step on it, but don’t call it a gas pedal. Photo by Sam Euston.
Under the dash: dual brake pedals, steering linkages, and accelerator — step on it, but don’t call it a gas pedal. Photo by Sam Euston.

The Switch drives like a Formula One car, hugging the ground and protecting you with a NASCAR-style roll cage. The open cockpit provides an exhilarating experience and excellent visibility for safety. Separate front and rear braking systems enable advanced sport driving techniques.

And, incredibly, you can build it in a week! The chassis is laser-cut, welded tubular steel, and the wiring is professionally terminated, numbered, and color-coded — all ready to be assembled.

Customizing the Switch

Imagine bolting on a pickup bed, camper shell, or racks. Select a custom seating arrangement from one to four. Choose from various DC or AC motors for performance options defining power, speed, and regenerative braking. Pick your battery system — budget lead-acid batteries or lithium-ion, from 10kWh to 30kWh battery packs. Adjust the suspension for low, road-hugging traction, or set it high and firm for hauling loads. There are so many options, and you get to decide.

Driving Into the Future

In January 2015, 12 teachers completed training at our facility, where they assembled two vehicles in one week. Photo by Peter Oliver.
In January 2015, 12 teachers completed training at our facility, where they assembled two vehicles in one week. Photo by Peter Oliver.

We imagine Makers taking the Switch Lab process into global markets via micro-manufacturing, tailored to local needs and fueled by regional green power sources. The manufacturing model deepens as regional economies develop, starting with a fully welded chassis kit and expanding into welding or laser-cutting parts to spec as the market grows.

The Switch is designed to move people into another world, a world of voluntary simplicity, respect for the environment and the needs of others. It helps start the transition conversation.

And it’s truly a Maker vehicle, ready for the full range of builders. Computer programmers, carpenters, men, women, high school and college students — even auto mechanics — have successfully assembled and understand the Switch. There’s no other EV that starts as an affordable project and becomes a sporty utility or off-road transport that you make yourself.

For more information about the Switch EV and the Switch Lab, visit theswitchlab.com.

9 thoughts on “This High-Performance Electric Vehicle Kit Can Be Built in a Week

  1. Neat project, but that $14-$30k pricetag is killer when fully built and enclosed electric cars are selling for between $20-$60k. I get it, batteries and motors aren’t cheap, but even $6k for a rolling chassis seems high. It has to be because they are hand built, wonder what price it could be made for in high volume. I also wonder if you could save money by buying used parts (like motors from forklifts). Sort of wish someone would come up with an equivalent version of a motorcycle, has to be cheaper because of less material.

  2. Don’t most jurisdictions have rules about driving prototype cars on the road because of it lacking things like crash testing, etc?

    1. Not if it has three wheels and is therefore a “Motorcycle”.
      That’s why so much lower-dollar innovation happens on three wheels.

  3. After discounts you can just about get into at i3 for the same money….and not have to build it….and have air conditioning…air bags….stereo……windows…

  4. Wow, I can get into one of these for only $25000? And I have to build it myself! So many better options out there……..

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Peter Oliver

Peter is a co-founder of Switch Vehicles. He taught college students how to convert gas cars to electric, and converted many classic vehicles with his company Make Mine Electric.

View more articles by Peter Oliver
Jim McGreen

Jim is a co-founder of Switch Vehicles. He started Electrathon racing in the early ’90s and founded ZAP (Zero Air Pollution), the first electric bike company in 1991. Jim also invented the Zappy micro scooter which sold more than 30,000 units.

View more articles by Jim McGreen