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December 14, 2012

A Sierra Club Member's DIY Car


Sierra Club members are known for camping, hiking, and campaigning to protect the outdoors. Building cars? Not so much.

But Gary Krysztopik of San Antonio, Texas, isn’t your typical environmental activist. He's an electric vehicle advocate working on developing an open-sourced electric vehicle kit that will allow anyone to build his or her own EV. Now all you’ll need is some space in the garage to put it together.

"My goal is to make building an electric vehicle as easy as possible," says Gary, who started his company ZWheelz in 2007. "It's mainly for people who want to commute back and forth. It allows for a very easy entry point to get an EV."

The challenge of putting together an EV sounds a tad more difficult than assembling IKEA furniture. Gary's plan is to make it so simple that even people who have never picked up a wrench before will be able to build one.

Gary's build-it-yourself EV, called the "EZ-EV Open Source Electric Kit Car," uses durable, composite materials that don't erode, such as fiberglass, instead of metal. This would enable the car's frame – with periodic battery replacements -- to last generations. Imagine a world without junkyards filled with throwaway cars.

There are many do-it-yourselfers converting existing internal combustion engine vehicles and even hybrid cars to electric. For example, the folks at ConVerdant Vehicles out of Concord, New Hampshire, help people convert used Toyota Priuses and Ford Escape hybrids into plug-in hybrids.

But Gary's inspiration goes back to his days as an employee at the Department of Defense during 9/11 and the subsequent Iraq invasion. He says he became disillusioned when some at his workplace kept talking about grabbing Iraq's oil.

"I couldn’t be a part of that," he says.


Gary says everything changed for him when we saw the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?

"That was when I said that this was what I had to do," he says.

Gary hopes to spark a grassroots movement to car making.

"Even in developing countries, this open-sourced kit would make it possible for anyone. Cars could be locally built. No more shipping cars all around the world."

Learn more about Sierra Club's EV program.


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