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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 · #44 ·
this is where we will wire up our orange high voltage BMW 530e battery pack harness after we make some proper ring terminal crimps for it (since the BMW plugs won't work with this Lexus port)

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Discussion Starter · #45 ·
At this point some of youz might be wondering why go through all this hackery and not just use the stock OEM Lexus hybrid battery, I mean it plugs right in and you already have the orange high voltage wiring harness for it?

Simple, capacity. The problem with using hybrid vehicles as parts donors is that they come with decent motors and inverters but they lack in the battery department. More specifically the OEM Lexus battery pack is only something like 1.4 kWh which is good for maybe 1.5 mile range at low speed say 30 MPH

But, but but, isn't your BMW 530e battery also from a hybrid? Yes it is, and first of all it delivers "full voltage" aka 360 volts as opposed to only 288 from the Lexus one, and second of all it is 9.1 kWh so good for upwards of 20 miles at speed.

I originally planned on getting a Nissan Leaf battery pack but found the BMW 530e at a price point I could not pass up, only $900 bucks and it is much easier to work with for a test mule ie Phase 1 or Proof of Concept as it is about 1/4th the size of the Leaf pack. Also nothing stops us from getting another one like it and another one for a total of 27.3 kWh and our goal of 100 mile range, (fingers crossed).

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note the electric Air Conditioning compressor, I am still scratching my head why Lexus would do this and strip the already minimum electron capacity by not using a conventional mechanical compressor, but hewk, what do I know
An engine-driven mechanical compressor would produce cooling only when the engine is running, and these hybrids frequently shut the engine down, when stopped or coasting. I think that most people doing EV conversions would be happy to find that their hardware supports an electrically-driven compressor, because that means that they can have air conditioning in their converted vehicle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #47 ·
An engine-driven mechanical compressor would produce cooling only when the engine is running, and these hybrids frequently shut the engine down, when stopped or coasting.
Ah, thanks Brian, I knew there was a logical reason, but just so you know you're talking to a guy who's currently daily is a '54 Chevy truck, ha ha so I sorta lack in the latest and greatest department, and no AC on my Hot Rod
 

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Discussion Starter · #49 · (Edited)
So as I am buying myself some time here waiting on the low voltage black main wiring harness to arrive I figure I will put down my project plan / phases down on paper, aka sort of our Road Map

PHASES
COMPONENTS / DETAILS
COMMENTS
Phase 0 - "Minimal Bench Test"Motor
Inverter
VCU (no WiFi card)
Throttle Pedal
60v 5A Bench Power Supply
Car battery

just "bump" the motor

this basically means do the bare minimum to just get the motor (MG2) to spin for a second

only B socket of the VCU wired up, so only 20 of the 40 pins

this is to ensure we have all of the core wiring and connections figured out

Note: we are not even introducing the battery pack to the configuration at this time
Phase 1 - "Full Bench Test"Motor
Inverter
VCU with WiFi card
Throttle Pedal
Battery Pack
Car battery
IVT-S Current Sensor
Laptop for digital gauge display

same as above plus lock out input shaft so that we spin both MG1 and MG2

both A and B sockets of the VCU wired up so all 40 pins

utilize the pre charge circuit to use battery pack power

Note: we are not even introducing the charger to the configuration at this time
Phase 2 - First Vehicle Testall components to make us drive installed in the vehicle, no charger yet
this is the just get the wheels to spin forwards in Drive and backwards in Reverse with the truck on jack stands phase

single battery pack minimal range

still no charger or BMS introduced to the configuration
Phase 3 - Vehicle Test with Chargerall components plus the Tesla charger in the vehicle
single battery pack minimal range

added Tesla charger

still no BMS implemented
 

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PHASES
COMPONENTS / DETAILS
COMMENTS
Phase 0 - "Minimal Bench Test"Motor
Inverter
VCU (no WiFi card)
Throttle Pedal
60v 5A Bench Power Supply
Car battery

just "bump" the motor

this basically means do the bare minimum to just get the motor (MG2) to spin for a second

only B socket of the VCU wired up, so only 20 of the 40 pins

this is to ensure we have all of the core wiring and connections figured out

Note: we are not even introducing the battery pack to the configuration at this time
I doubt that the inverter will even bump the motor with only a ~12 volt power supply... but maybe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #51 ·
I doubt that the inverter will even bump the motor with only a ~12 volt power supply... but maybe.
never said that, that's what the 60 volt 5 amp Bench Power Supply is for the 12 volt car battery is to power the VCU and the Inverter and that's how it works for Damien just a quick simple safe way to test
 

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Discussion Starter · #53 ·
Ooops, sorry, missed the perfectly clear 60 V spec. Yeah, I can see 60 V barely turning the 288 V inverter on.
no problem I was fixin' on adding more detail to my answer with a link to Damien's video (he has so many of them, and I like to pin point to the right spots in each to help folks out) here's a really cool brief walk around the minimum equipment needed (don't let the title mislead you)

Lexus GS450H VCU Firmware Tutorial

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Discussion Starter · #54 · (Edited)
ladies and gentlemen I present to you what may possibly be the world's worst wiring diagrams complements of cardiagn.com

What's the goal here? Well it is to see the routing of the Inverter/Transmission wiring harness which I still struggle to identify using these horrible cluttered and overlayed diagrams

I think Floor No. 4 Wire is what we identified as the long battery wire harness that runs the length of the car, great, we already decided we won't even use it.

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below u1 and u4 is the best they do at pointing out the Inverter / Transmission harness, and that is horrible and completely useless at best

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Discussion Starter · #57 · (Edited)
So this is what I was expecting... the pic is a bit misleading as it pictures the 40 pin connector header thingie, yet on his website it states "Enclosure and connectors NOT supplied." again absolutely no complaint here just an observation and a clarification for anyone following along, that's all.

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Discussion Starter · #58 · (Edited)
and this is what I got...

I do realize there is a parts/components shortage, this is more of an "observe and report" than a rant or a complaint, I am truly grateful to have gotten anything at all considering the circumstances, I am also very happy to see that he already soldered on the USB port for me

Missing is only the small black 5 volt switch mode regulator

FYI the shipping from Ireland to California took exactly precisely 2 weeks to the day

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I just finished my entire DIY wire harness last night - I just need a DC power source to give it power to test or a high voltage battery to do some testing - I need to find something like you did as I'm tapped out and can't afford 10k worth of tesla or LG chem batteries lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #60 ·
I just finished my entire DIY wire harness last night - I just need a DC power source to give it power to test or a high voltage battery to do some testing - I need to find something like you did as I'm tapped out and can't afford 10k worth of tesla or LG chem batteries lol
Awesome job, I know that must have taken a while, where did you source the Inverter rectangular plug?

Also, I plan on just using a Bench Power Supply such as this one for testing, yes it's enough to spin that motor, Damien did just that.

DC Power Variable Supply 60V 5A 4Digital Display Adjustable Regulated Switching Power Supply

 
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