Two hobbyists built an electric car from spare parts, and now they're going after a record set by Tesla

Key Points
  • The Phoenix is a homemade electric vehicle created from 90 percent recycled parts by weight.
  • It has been able to go 748 miles on a single charge, beating current hypermiling record holder Tesla. Model S P100D went just shy of 700 miles on a single charge.
  • To take the record, the creators will replicate Tesla's optimal driving conditions and expect to almost double its attempt.

A pair of electric vehicle enthusiasts believe they've created one of the most efficient cars out there — and all it took was $13,800 and a bunch of recycled car parts.

"If we can do this, anybody can do this," said Lundgren. "We're not some mad scientists in a lab. We're just trying to push this envelope to the max."

Their car is called The Phoenix. To show it go farther than any other electric car on a single charge, creators Eric Ludgren and Jehu Garcia will be attempting to take away the world hypermiling record from current record holder Tesla's Model S P100D, completed by the Tesla Owners Club Italia in early August.

The Phoenix is an electric vehicle made from recycled parts that cost less than $14,000 to make.
Courtesy of Eric Ludgren

Hypermiling is driving a car at low speeds to optimize battery conditions. The Tesla Model S P100 went 669.8 miles at 24.9 miles per hour for 29 hours. It also did not use air conditioning, had low rolling resistance tires and used autopilot to maximize the battery, according to Futurism.

The Phoenix has a very good chance of breaking the record because they've already done this before. Ludgren and Garcia say they previously drove The Phoenix 748 miles on a single charge on real Californian streets in stop-and-go and highway conditions, averaging 52 miles per hour. At hypermiling speeds, they are projecting The Pheonix will go up to 1,300 miles. They'll make a try for the record in the next few months.

Lundgren, who owns waste recycling and disposal company IT Asset Partners, didn't want to create a car to complete against Tesla. Instead , he wanted to highlight how many useful electronic parts we throw away.

"If we treated electric vehicles like we treat our phones, which if a single part breaks we throw it away, we'd have so much waste," he said. "We just want to breathe new life cycles into electronics."

Eric Ludgren (left) and Jehu Garcia stop by Tesla's office Freemont, Calif.

The two-seater Phoenix is made from about 90 percent "recycled" parts according to the weight, according to Lundgren. For example, the frame of the car is a 1997 BMW 528i, which was a scrap car they purchased for $900. It uses an industrial motor typically used from mining equipment. A lot of the pieces came from vehicles four or five years ago rather than the latest technology.

"The thing is not about making the best possible car," Garcia admitted. "It's really to show the best value in recycled technology."

Lundgren tapped Garcia to help him on the project after finding his videos on YouTube. About four years ago Garcia, who previously worked as a carpenter and created parts for cameras, started turning old cars into electric vehicles and filming DIY guides for YouTube. Garcia had no experience with cars before and learned from, you guessed it, YouTube videos. He now works full-time on his channel, which has more than 100,000 subscribers.

"I think anybody could build a better car than ours," Lundgren said, "I think it seems there's a lot of magic when it comes to EVs (electric vehicles), especially when people try and figure out how it works. They think it's difficult. If you just watch Jehu's channel, you can see you can make one yourself."

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