FIRST THERE WAS THE FLAT PACK WARDROBE, THEN THE FLAT PACK KITCHEN, THE FLAT PACK HOUSE AND NOW THE FLAT PACK CAR
If you thought only IKEA did flat pack, take a look at the OSVehicle Project. Italians Francisco Liu and Ampelio Macchi are behind the Tabby Car, which is to be available as a flat pack kit for between £3,300 and £5,000 (Euro 4,000 to 6,000). Seemingly; all electric, hybrid and traditional engined versions can be built in a multiplicity of 2 and 4 seat versions.
Plans are already available on line from http://www.osvehicle.com and plans for a fully street-legal version, the Urban Tabby, are to be available soon.
From the website; ‘Tabby is an open source framework for vehicles’ which takes only 1 hour to assemble, allegedly. I’ve spent hours not assembling an IKEA chest of drawers. Non the less, looking at the specifications and a timelapse video of a Tabby being assembled, I’m pretty confident that a half-way competent mechanic could build the basic vehicle in an afternoon.
Then it would get a bit more complicated. Seemingly an all-electric version can be shipped now. An Integrated Hybrid Engine is due for release in the winter of 2014; (presumably that means Q4 2014). Fitting a small petrol or diesel engine will need a fair amount of work from the builder. Making the thing road legal will need a lot of work.
As far as I know the Tabby will be covered by The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) regulations 1986, (as amended), in the United Kingdom. Other countries will have their own versions of these rules, to which all road cars must be built. If you build your own Tabby, then in the UK it would be registered as a kit car http://www.direct.gov.uk/vehiclereg A twelve page document is available on line and by post; Guidelines on how you can register kit cars and rebuilt or radically altered vehicles.
Making the thing fit the regulations should be fairly easy if you opt for the Urban Tabby, much more difficult if you fit your own bodywork, lights, engine… However the team say that this will be the first ‘open source’ car it will be legal to drive on roads. Interesting. Having built a few cars I can confidently say that, it’s easy if you know what you’re doing, but a lot more complex and involved than you’d think.
Having built a few kit cars, rebuilt several classic cars, modified a few cars, built a flat pack tractor, repaired a Massey Ferguson, I can confidently say that it’s worth an interested person with some relevant skills downloading the ‘free’ drawing and specifications for the basic Tabby. At least that will give you some idea of the engineering behind the project. I would not attempt to build a chassis from scratch, that will require lots of unpleasant cutting and bending, and that is too much like hard work.
You can also pre-order 2 and 4 seat chassis, (Euro 500), battery packs, (Euro 698), and electric powertrain, (Euro 1,520). One thing is for certain, that will teach you a lot about vehicle engineering. Going from that to something you can use on the road needs a bit more effort.
The hard truth is; Personally, If I wanted to build a 2 seater car from a kit, I’d start looking at something like Westfield http://www.westfield-sportscars.co.uk Caterham http://www.uk.caterhamcars.com JAS Beach Buggies http://www.beachbuggies.co.uk or I’d buy ex ex-military Land Rover and rebuild it. However, if I wanted to set up a small business building say; Golf Buggies, or Electric Delivery Vehicles, or Funky Sports Cars, or something like the old Mini Moke, then I would take a serious look at the Tabby from the OSVehicle Project. The plans are free to download. Remember, to be road-legal the finished car must meet a hell of a lot of regulations, and if it’s a one-off go through a very rigorous inspection. Ideally you want the initial manufacturer to have done a lot of that legal legwork for you. Ideally you don’t want to have to read all of the regulations to ensure the stop lights are in the right places.