Plug Bug: DMV Process Registering a Home Built EV

Electric Bug

So, I’ve been trying to register the Plug Bug as a pure EV car. Here has been my adventure so far.

1. First DMV trip. The car was registered non-op, but I drove it down there, thinking that was what I had to do to register it as operable again. It turns out that isn’t the case; they want you to pay first before you drive it at all! I guess that makes sense if I think about it. So, I go to the DMV and tell them I want to register it as an electric car. The lady says I need to get an inspection, so I go out and drive up to get it inspected. The inspector says they don’t do that there. So, I go back in, and the lady says they do…and that the guy was being a grump. So, she pulls some strings and another lady helps me out. She gets on the phone for a while, and talks to people. Finally, she says she’ll inspect the car and we go out to check it out. All is going great, until she needed to see the VIN number. Now, I know where one VIN # is — it is under the rear seat…which is now replaced by a ton of batteries! So, you can’t get to it. She had to see it to verify the car, so she wasn’t going to let me register it as an EV. The only option was to take out batteries (not possible) or get a new VIN (not desired by me). So, I went home thinking that was what I had to do.

Two weeks pass till the next appointment I could get.

2. Second DMV visit. I found the VIN number — it was in the front trunk, and although we had looked at it at the first inspection, it didn’t initially look like a normal VIN but was. She had said she wanted to see 2 VIN numbers…and there was supposed to be a second on the dash (in addition to the one under the seat). I remember seeing a little metal piece on the dash, which I had replaced! So, I went to a hardware store and the owner let me borrow his metal stamps and I stamped the number on a little sheet of aluminum and put it on my dash. So, I go to the DMV the second time, and the guy who is inspecting this time said his son is into EVs and built and raced an electric motorcycle! How cool was that to get this guy? Apparently his son worked at ThunderStruck Motors. Cool! So, he inspected the car, and only needed to see the one VIN # in front, and went inside to double check he was doing everything right. Unfortunately, he came back with bad news, and said that all EVs now need to be inspected by BAR (Bureau of Automative Repair).

Later that day at lunch

3. BAR visit. I got an appointment the same day and drive down at lunch. They say, yes, they do inspections, but as far as they are concerned my car is too old and isn’t “in the system”. So, they don’t do anything to verify it. They recommend going back to the DMV. Doubt!

….I’m now waiting till next week for my next DMV appointment.


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Kudos for patience and persistence! Here’s some inspirational words from Danny Elfman:

I had an operation
With no adverse reaction
They tampered with my brain some
It helped me see the reason
For living in the system

John C. Randolph

That’s what government is all about: making you wait around and jump through hoops when you’re doing something that’s not hurting anyone.



So they are quite right in the “Reaper” TV show when they state that DMV is hell on earth.

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