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Why we’re building a post-apocalyptic electric car

Illustration for article titled Why we’re building a post-apocalyptic electric car

Michael and Kenny Ham want to protect the world from zombies, expensive electric cars, and a reliance on oil. Their solution? The ApocalypsEV, a solar-powered dune buggy that's also the cheapest car in America. Here's their plan — Ed.


GM was right to kill the EV-1 as gas approached $0.99 a gallon given its actual cost of $80,000. There, we said it. As two brothers who love electric cars almost as much as the sound of an SRT-8 Grand Cherokee sucking down high octane, we feel good about that statement (as proof, we built this electric car and wrote a book featuring the SRT8).

On paper, electric vehicles (EVs) are a great idea. They cost significantly less to drive per mile, require little maintenance, and lower our dependence on oil — a commodity with great uses that don't involve igniting it with a spark plug.


Like the Toyota Supra Mk IV, the EV-1 was a car loved by some but ultimately too expensive for massive market acceptance. With that cautionary tale in mind, we are in the process of designing and building the cheapest street legal car in America: the 100% electric AppocalypsEV

We designed the ApocalypsEV to be the best car on the planet in case of certain world-altering events like a zombie apocalypse, the rapture, oil trading at $500 a barrel, etc. Sure, as a survivor you will have your choice of supercars or military vehicles, but they won't do you much good if there's no gas.

Illustration for article titled Why we’re building a post-apocalyptic electric car

Our primary goal is creating a vehicle tough enough for an apocalypse, but cheap enough for people to buy using the budget they normally reserve for power toys like boats, ATVs or motorcycles. By combining solar boost charging with cheap plug in charging and low maintenance costs, we plan to make the ApocalypsEV the most affordable vehicle to buy and operate in America.


We are fully aware that our company, ApocalypsEV, is entering a field littered with the carcasses of too many companies to name. Tesla avoided this fate by copying the Ferrari business model — performance that proves you have fat bank. But with the demise of the Roadster, they are diving into the classic EV death spiral with their Model S; a car with ordinary styling that costs significantly more than a base model Acura or Bimmer.

Now, if the Model S cost $300k and could be upholstered with Narwhal giblets, Tesla might be on to something.


Historically, electric car companies have tried to sell the public the equivalent of the Mustang GT500, the absolute top of the line model with a price tag to match. The Nissan Leaf is a good example of this problem. Incentives aside, Nissan sells the Leaf for $30k on the same lot as the similarly sized, $11k Versa. That $19k buys a lot of gas, approximately 150,000 miles worth. The value isn't there.

What Nissan should do instead is offer the Leaf with multiple battery and motor options. For many people, going 20 miles on a charge with a top speed of 55mph would be fine, especially if the cost moved significantly closer to the Versa. The low cost of electricity can quickly cover a $1-5k cost difference and provide customers with real value.


Having batteries, ultra-capacitors, and bigger motors as upgrades would attract a portion of buyers especially if the trunk gets a nice badge for future Jalops to recognize and covet when they browse Craigslist.

Illustration for article titled Why we’re building a post-apocalyptic electric car

This is the approach we are taking with the ApocalypsEV. Most ATV adventures or around town errands cover relatively short distances and are low speed. Giving the base model a 10-20 mile range will be enough for most driving needs. The two of us live within this distance to work and the grocery store, allowing us to supplement riding a bicycle when you need to arrive without being a sweaty mess or carry something large.

The reliability of electric motors and low operating costs could make the ApocalypsEV the car that gets Americans to use EVs on a large scale. More importantly, in many parts of the world, a $5-8k car that can charge itself would be a disruptive game changer. The ApocalypsEV could handle rugged terrain, reduce air pollution and if used at a rate that did not exceed the solar charging, be free to drive.


Ultimately, the ApocalypsEV is a project created by a couple of guys who love to drive, but can't afford cruising around as gas yo-yos between $3 and $4 a gallon. It's our way of making driving affordable again and based on the idea that it is more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow.

Ultimately, if the ApocalypsEV proves to be successful, we plan to branch out and build roadsters and little trucks that are both cheap and durable enough for an apocalypse.


If you want more, you can get periodic updates by liking us on Facebook and check our fundraising efforts at IndieGoGo.

Photo Credit: Kwest/

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Patrick Frawley

Nice try, dudes, but you might as well forget about the solar panels.

As a near-ideal, sunlight delivers 1 kilowatt per square meter - a lot less on a cloudy day. The absolute theoretical maximum efficiency of a solar cell is something like 33.7%. (See: []) In order to collect one horsepower's worth of electricity, disregarding inevitable mechanical losses in the drive, you would need - again, theoretical maximum - about two and a quarter square meters, or twenty-four square feet, of solar cells.

Picture related: That's the GM Sunraycer, which flat blew away its competition in a solar-power-only race in Australia in 1987. The vehicle weighed less than 400 lbs, had a drag coefficient of .125, and topped out at 68mph with a solar-charged battery assist - and did half that on sunlight alone. It took GM's finest engineering and around $2 million, in 1987, to build. There were others that weren't as good.

See that sheet of satellite-grade solar cells on the back of it? Compare to the above. Those cutesy panels on top of the golf cart would be hard-pressed to run a radio. Powering up anything that'll move a vehicle off of those would take, what, weeks?

Besides, speaking of which, don't golf carts that accomplish all of this - except the comic-book fantasies - already exist?