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1971 GMCe Lexus GS450H BMW 530e Tesla Model S powered Electruck

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I will be converting my 1971 GMCe 1/2 ton truck to electric using hybrid and electric car parts here in Sacramento California. This will be a companion thread to the one on 67-72ChevyTrucks.com where I fight rust and do general restoration repairs. I also have a video series on my Good Enuff Garage YouTube channel.

My Experience is limited and summed up by Karen in this Circuit Basics - The Learning Circuit video
I have converted two kid go carts to electric, and a Suzuki Katan aka "Wattana" to electric ten years ago back in the DC motor era. We've also leased a 2013 Nissan Leaf for three years and absolutely loved it, only returned it in hopes of getting the Tesla Model 3 but in 2017 it was not available yet. I'm an IT nerd by day and a JB Welder by night and on weekends, ha ha

My Budget is expandable
I don't really have one but if I did it would be south of $5K not counting the cost of the actual vehicle.

My Goals: An affordable conversion in a reasonable amount of time (6 months or less), on a working man's budget.
Top Speed: honestly don't care, legal highway speed.
Range: eventually 100 miles (based on our 2013 Nissan Leaf 83 mile range experience, we were just fine with that, ended up charging only every other day), I plan on getting there in phases, phase 1 will be a small BMW 530e battery pack

I will be updating and shaping this thread as we go, my focus will be on sharing what I have learned and filling in the gaps that some of the newbs like me may benefit from. I will share where I bought my parts and components and tell you how much I paid for everything.

I know this Forum is a great resource and this is where I have learned about the Lexus GS450H electric transmission or transmotor as I call it, and decided to go for it.

RESOURCES:

BUILDS:

SHOP:

yes Dusty as it is affectionately called is not easy on the eyes at the moment but nothing a coat of paint won't fix eventually
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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
I will spare you the boring details of de ICEing the truck, we've all seen oil stained driveways and sketchy engine hoists, I will tell you that I paid only $1,500 for this truck as a basket case and it looked way worse than what it does now, ha ha

I hope to sell the Small Block Chevy 350 engine and Turbo TH350 automagic transmission and recoup some of those costs

I also hope to weigh the truck prior to it's disassembly to get a baseline of what it weighs in it's native form

Now I did not pick Dusty it picked me, I know it has the aero dynamic characteristics of a brick and weighs a couple tons, but in California any vehicles 1975 and older do not have to be SMOG checked every year so there's that, also there are currently no production electric trucks that I know of so why not make one (and gosh darn it I love this Ugly Truckling)

COSTS SO FAR

$978 - Battery (with BMW wiring harness)​
$760 - Transmission (with oil pump)​
$362 - VCU, Vehicle Control Unit aka Controller (an open source component)​
? - BMS, Battery Management System (open source component)​
? - Battery charger logic board (open source component)​
$300 - Charger​
$250 - Inverter​
$250 - Transmission wiring harness (low voltage)​
$150 - Controller (for oil pump)​
$325 - Main wiring harness (low voltage)​
$125 - Flywheel​
$125 - Drive shaft​
? - Some sort of digital display doo dad, tablet maybe​
$100 - Battery Harness (from Lexus)
$ 43 - Throttle Pedal (BMW E46)​
===========================​
$2,690 TOTAL​
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Here's what I learned about the Lexus GS450H transmission which I bought for $700 dollars well $761 if you count tax, FREE freight shipping. (freight shipping means they will not ship to your residential address aka your house, you have to provide a commercial address, in my case they required a loading dock and or a fork lift) It pays to have friends with such things

You want the older 3rd Gen Lexus GS450H hybrid 2007-2011. Though newer models exist those have not been reverse engineered to work outside of the native car yet, so avoid the temptation to get a 2012-2013.

Buy as much as you can afford and from the same vehicle. A wrecked vehicle is preferred as it ensures that the car was rendered immobile do to an accident and not some mechanical failure.

1. Make sure your transmission comes with the small black electric external Oil Pump and it's black low voltage (12 volts) wire harness (this goes to the Oil Pump Controller, which usually is not included, you can ask and or pay extra for it, highly recommended)

2. Get the two orange high voltage (360 volts) wire harnesses they connect the transmission to the Inverter. I have seen them listed separately on eBay for $100 bucks a piece, if you do not get them with your transmission you will get nickel and dimed to death.

3. Ask if they have the matching Inverter a big metal box the size of a microwave. This too will be an extra charge of $300 to $350, more on Inverters later. The Inverter is attached in front of the firewall in the engine bay on the passenger side in left hand drive vehicles, I think it is on the opposite side in right hand drive.

3. See if they have the flywheel disc, this may cost extra but you will need it or the center of one to lock the input shaft. I got one for $125. More on this later.

4. I decided to buy the drive shaft as well for $125, since being a Chevy guy it looked way different than what I am used to seeing ie universal joints, plus it is a two piece drive shaft which slides in and out of itself as the vehicle articulates over bumps, this prevents damage to your transmissions output shaft and bearings, also the drive shaft has a center support so that the transmission does not have to carry the weight of it.

5. I also asked for the orange high voltage battery wiring harness that runs from the battery pack to the Inverter, and paid $100 extra to get that.

6. Finally see if they have the main black low voltage (12 volts) wiring harness. We need this for the big rectangular plug that connects to the inverter, you can't buy that plug anywhere separate as far as I know at the time of this writting.

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
The same eBayer who had the transmission had a listing for the flywheel for $115 so I bought it, I think it came to $125 with tax and FREE standard shipping this time

with this listing I got to see more pics of the donor vehicle and I could see it was the same one as the transmission
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I paid $150 for the oil pump Controller (I have seen them listed for $100 on eBay, but I figured I was getting fair pricing on everything else so it became part of the bundled deal and FREE freight shipping)

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
and I also got the Inverter also from the same eBayer so from the same vehicle I paid $250 for it so that was an awesome deal and offset the oil pump controller price perfectly also FREE freight shipping as it all got shipped on a pallet
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This is an example of what I call a "Naked Transmission" it is essentially all stripped down to the bone, I am posting it on here as an example of what not to buy (unless you have all the other components and already know what you are doing)

notice the two big orange high voltage wire harnesses (harni ?) are missing

notice the black external oil pump is missing on the passenger side

stay away from listings like this
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The drive shaft joints are unusual for North American vehicles (due to the use of giubos), but it seems to me that a possible bigger issue is making it work with the specific requirements of the coil spring and trailing arm rear suspension, if that's what you have (given that both the coils and leaf springs were available in this generation of the C/K).
Yes my truck has the trailing arm suspension which is what I love about it, and I don't see any issue with running that drive shaft with it, I will just have a drive line shop weld on a universal joint on the end to mate with my 12 bolt rear end and shorten the shaft if need be, am I missing something?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
and this is what my Lexus battery high voltage orange wire will look like, I also bought it with the trans for $100 not sure I will use this one, but this being my first car conversion I want it to be as plug and play as possible
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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
If you are reading this than you are already ahead of the game, there are some very talented and knowledgeable folks on here. Which brings me to my next point, reach out, network, ask questions. I did, I meet a friend (or at least I call him that, I believe he calls me a stalker, ha ha) Anyway Artur has been a God send and has right away found me this BMW 530e hybrid full voltage battery pack on eBay for only $900 with free local pickup in Los Angeles, California. More on what a full voltage battery pack means later. I offered them $700 and they accepted but then I asked for the high voltage orange wiring harness that goes with it and the price went back up to $900 but they through in the low voltage black wire harness pig tails so I was happy with that deal.

I got lucky again and this seller was great and was willing to communicate with me with messages back and forth on eBay and with pictures, I told him that I was not local and would need to see pics before heading out there. I think he did make me pay for it before actually pulling it off the car, some of them will do that.

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
so a 13 hour round trip later and that baby was mine, had to pick up our son from the University on the way home for the weekend so ended up flying two birds at one stone type of thing, Win Win!

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
alright lets get through all the mandatory parts acquisition posts and then we'll take a deeper dive into each of the components

I opted for the Tesla Model S Gen 2 battery charger, I think once again my buddy Artur found this one for me on eBay for $350 or best offer, so I offered $300 and the seller accepted, came with FREE shipping. I share this type of nonsense with you to show you that everything is negotiable, and if you spend some time and are willing to put in the effort there are deals to be had.

CAUTION: not all of these Gen 2 chargers were created equally, you need to do some homework and buy only the ones with a revision number suitable for EV Conversions, more on this later

Fun Fact: This thing is heavy!

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
with the big stuff gotten we turned to going after the smaller bits, so got this BMW E46 hall effect throttle pedal, now I used to call these things potentiometer but I guess the cool kids call them hall effect, my truck has an ancient mechanical drive by cable throttle pedal so I don't know if, if it was a newer truck with drive by wire if you could use that, maybe someone can chime in and tell us

anyway Damien Maguire uses this pedal, so if it is good enough for him it is good enough for me, having done a number of LS Engine swaps I know to take the path of least resistance when possible as these projects will provide plenty opportunity for headaches anyway, no need to make your life any harder, know what I'm sayin'? and I am not partial to any brands or manufacturers, I just want this thing to work

so found this one on eBay for $40 bucks, the reason I picked it is because it came with a pig tail, ie about a foot worth of wire harness with what's most important is the plug, you see I like to build nice connections and not Mickey Mouse anything so if we have the original plug that is gold!

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Why on earth you used a Lexus variant, which the Europeans would because that's plentiful over there, when there was a Chevy TRUCK variant (yes, with the correct output shaft) of the very same transmission, is beyond me. Had you asked here, several months ago, you'd have saved yourself some (upcoming? hard to tell if this is done or where you are in timeline) headaches.
How was I supposed to ask about something I did not know existed, I still don't know what you are talking about? ha ha and I did ask a few months ago a year ago to be exact and that's when it was suggested to me to use the GS450H

So what is this Chevy Truck variant you speak of please do tell.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 · (Edited)
The development of that transmission was funded by three companies for use in hybrid vehicles. GM was one of them. I can't recall the third one...want to say BMW, but not sure.
In that case I may have found the Global Hybrid Cooperation wiki article and here are some highlights:

Global Hybrid Cooperation (formerly called Advanced Hybrid System 2 or AHS2) is a set of hybrid vehicle technologies jointly developed by General Motors, Daimler, and Chrysler LLC, with BMW joining in 2005.

While Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive may appear similar in that it also combines the power from an Internal combustion engine (ICE) and a pair of electric motor-generators; however in its current form, Toyota uses only one planetary gearset providing only single mode functionality (i.e. input split only) using a series/parallel architecture.

[that indicates it's similar but hardly "very same transmission" I even learned that the current Open Source VCU for the Lexus GS450H only works with the 2007-11 generation and not even the 2012-13 so I doubt it would work with GMs]

GM was reportedly responsible for development of rear- and four-wheel drive truck and front wheel drive car systems while DaimlerChrysler was focused on a rear wheel drive luxury car application.

On March 1, 2007, BMW and DaimlerChrysler announced that they were expanding their partnership and moving quickly to develop a mild hybrid module for rear wheel drive premium cars. GM is not part of this expanded partnership, and has not announced plans to develop a hybrid RWD system for cars.

It was reported in July 2009, however, that after the upcoming introductions of two-mode versions of the BMW X6 globally and the Mercedes-Benz M class only in the United States, the joint venture would be dissolved.
so since I am not interested in a 4WD vehicle and want a 2WD rear wheel drive, my choice in this case is a one year vehicle as opposed to four years to choose from if going with the Lexus 2007-2011 GS450H. Take a look at eBay and shoot me a link to one of those 2WD GM transmissions for $700 or less. Also shoot us a link to any build threads using the GM transmission as well as the GitHub open source for the VCU.

Also Toyota (aka Lexus) is the world's largest automaker, (they have been maybe for the last decade now surpassing GM) and there are way more cars in the States than in Europe and I may have the world's largest Lexus recycler in the world just 25 miles away from my house in Rancho Cordova, California.
 
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