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The homebuilt electric Z-Kart - who needs a Tesla Roadster?

By

April 7, 2011

The Z-Kart has a range of around 20 miles (32 km), and a top speed of 40 mph (64 kph)

The Z-Kart has a range of around 20 miles (32 km), and a top speed of 40 mph (64 kph)

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As major automobile manufacturers around the world pour countless dollars and man hours into the research and development of electric vehicles, George Fortin has quietly gone about making one of his own. While it is true that his Z-Kart is just a one-seater with a range of 20 miles and a top speed of 40 mph that lacks pretty much any safety features or cargo capacity, it is nonetheless a well-engineered little buggy that looks like it would be a blast to drive. Not bad at all, for something that was made and designed and built by a real estate broker.

Fortin, who lives in San Clemente, California, has been interested in building motorized vehicles since he was a child. His son's battery-powered radio-controlled model cars inspired him to create his first electric cart, which he decided was too complex. He simplified the design by reducing the number of parts, and ended up with the Z-Kart.

The 300 pound (136 kg) vehicle is powered by a 72-volt DC motor via six lead-acid batteries (chosen because they are more cost effective than lithium ion). It charges from a 110-volt outlet through a retractable cord in about three hours, has a range of around 20 miles (32 km), and a top speed of 40 mph (64 kph) – although George believes it could reach 50 with different gearing.

Its solid polyethylene frame was built from scratch, as were its rear aluminum hubs. The rims are designed for sandrail dune buggies, the brakes are made for racing go-carts, and its tires are intended for use on motorcycles. Fortin originally tried using bicycle wheels and tires, but they weren't structurally strong enough.

Although we may never be commuting to work in Z-Karts of our own, George hopes that his creation will nonetheless inspire others to build more practical electric vehicles.

Via Translogic

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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20 Comments

I like his ingenuity. The acid batteries will be a problem however. The reason they last in a car is because they are charged as they are used. Running them down greatly shortens the life.

donwine
8th April, 2011 @ 07:17 am PDT

Bravo to George!

And he is smart entough to not get caught up into the idiocy of the number 3.

He did not try and build an inherently unstable 3 wheeled vehicle and he did not try and build a 3 bladed windmill.

Good work!

bill

Island Architect
8th April, 2011 @ 07:28 am PDT

How much did this cost to build?

Knowledge Thirsty
8th April, 2011 @ 07:41 am PDT

Way to go,George-

More power to ya!

Make a kit,

Make a fortune,Man!

{^,^}

Griffin
8th April, 2011 @ 08:00 am PDT

Once he improves the specs a bit, this might make a nice kit car.

red01montecarlo
8th April, 2011 @ 08:16 am PDT

Way to go George! It looks like it was built by a professional mechanic/machinist. Very impressive. Maybe you should change professions?

biscuitcutter
8th April, 2011 @ 08:30 am PDT

I am in total awe of this guy. The work on this car is awesome.

CrisR
8th April, 2011 @ 10:12 am PDT

What a cool little buggy.. A simple battery upgrade and modifying the gearing and I bet it would double the range.

I love the simplicity and it definitely looks strong.

Michael Mantion
8th April, 2011 @ 01:52 pm PDT

A swing axle type suspension? Better keep it hidden from Ralph Nader!

Facebook User
8th April, 2011 @ 07:48 pm PDT

Top Stuff George. Keep us informed. Would love to see specs with Lith ion Battery.

Ken Munyard
10th April, 2011 @ 06:34 pm PDT

I actually like this.

Could do with a small utility tray and or a tow bar.....

And it's a great upgrade on a bicycle for more shopping over longer trips.

Mr Stiffy
10th April, 2011 @ 07:42 pm PDT

SLA batteries are cheaper initially, but they're not more cost effective over time due to their drastically shorter lifespan. Furthermore the significantly reduced weight of lifepo4 batteries may have allowed him to use bicycle wheels after all, which would represent significant savings (if maybe a bit less cool than custom billet wheels). Reduced weight also means increased energy efficiency. Nonetheless, this is a really amazing build!

Though it would represent a whole new level of design challenge, the addition of a bicycle drivetrain would have it classified as a moped and a bit closer to street legal.

dreamer.redeemer
10th April, 2011 @ 07:58 pm PDT

I love what he has done especially with composite materials , its a high level home project but doesnt really reveal anything new that ventures it to Gizmag does it?

All power to him as people say, now if he had done a Liquid Hydrogen engine in it I would have thought that would be worthy of Gizmag.

The sooner we put amateur and custom builders onto liquid hydrogen engines the sooner we can get the hell off petroleum with minimal impact and changeover to the major car and fuel supply industry.

Gavin Greaves
11th April, 2011 @ 03:29 pm PDT

I appreciate all the comments from everybody, I do plan on making some changes and then going for a kit.

George Fortin
16th April, 2011 @ 06:41 pm PDT

Ditto the Swing-Axle comment above:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swing_axle

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_rear_suspension

Good base for a off-road "go-kart" (add a roll bar) or very high speed lawn mower (titanium blades would be nice).

Dave B13
27th April, 2011 @ 07:22 am PDT

I love that you posted George Fortin project. It reminds us that technology is not just for big business.

greatidea100
27th April, 2011 @ 08:33 am PDT

Implausibly clean and tidy garage :-)

christopher
22nd May, 2011 @ 03:41 am PDT

hi george i like to have ur email i have question

plz send to my email

dubaifly@yahoo.com

thank you

Ahmad Rzi
12th June, 2011 @ 08:36 am PDT

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Add "Motor-Generator" wheels to multiply "range" and use 'CAPACITORS' instead of "batteries"! And this would make a great addition to our transportation facilities!

-

Of course if it was provided a 'TOP' Solar Panels would also be a viable possibility!

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GREAT WORK!

anoracle
13th June, 2011 @ 07:25 am PDT

how much would it cost to buy all the parts

Ethan Sanders
4th May, 2012 @ 11:18 pm PDT
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