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Discussion Starter #1
What I'm thinking of doing is putting a Leaf front wheel drive setup in the rear of my Insight. I'm already working on an air ride system, so that should handle the extra weight. I want to keep the engine up from to give me all wheel drive and a range extender. I'm wanting to get a complete leaf since I think that's the best way to make sure the parts all can talk to eachother and so I have everything I might need.

The big roadblock I'm running into is I'm having a hard time finding crashed Leafs that aren't on sketchy auction sites. That leaves me looking at used ones which seem to have a price floor of about $5k. I'm looking to find one in the midwest that has cosmetic damage only for the most part, maybe a hard rear ending, but should have the front end suspension in good shape.

I'm wanting to basically build up a subframe in the back and attach that in. I will most likely be removing almost all the my IMA system such as the battery and just keeping enough to keep the 12v system happy, which the leaf will probably take care of anyways once all the loose ends are wrapped up.
 

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Fascinating project :)

Remember that you'll need to keep the Leaf motor facing in the same direction (i.e. front facing forward) because it uses splash lubrication that is unlikely to work well in reverse.

With regards to wrecks, consider buying one of Wolf's battery sniffers and visiting the salvage yards... we used an early version of the sniffer to test several Leaf batteries on cars that would not turn on. We also found that so long as the motor had not sustained an impact they were fine (including cars that had bent driveshafts).
 

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When I owned an insight I had hopes of adding in a rear electric motor to make a phev of sorts. The big road block I couldnt get around in the rear, the suspension. It will need redesigned completely to fit a driveshaft let alone a leaf motor. My first thought was install hub motors in place of the drum brakes. There’s about 3 inches available I think with those removed.

Anyways good luck!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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If it were me I would be looking at the Imiev or Smart ED

This isn’t due to cost or availability...

Reason is that you could actually package and complete the project, leaf is hard to package

In the case of the smart ED the battery and drivetrain just drop out from the body on their own subframe.

To integrate you would make the same mod required to build a k-sight

Cut out the tub, re-enforce the edges and drop your body onto the smart subframe.

Not to mention a RWD “mid-engine” platform is infinitely easier to repackage into RWD on another car

Easy peasy

You would then have a through the road PHEV, the rest would be can magic or dash integration non sense
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm thinking that I would do something similar to LHT where they added rear wheel drive to the Insight. I would put in a whole new subrame and redo the entire suspension. Ideally I would try and get the Leaf suspension to interface with the back of the car and then just maybe add a wide body kit of sorts since I think the Leaf tracks a bit wider, unless I can offset that with differeent offset wheels possibly. I would just make the tie bars mount to the subframe so the rear wheels didn't turn, unless I decide to add rear wheel steering someday :rolleyes:

Ideally I want the HVAC system from the leaf, the steering wheel, the braking system, and possibly some other parts.
 

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Have you measured out the leaf ? (If you haven’t the thing is huge and won’t fit)


That’s why I recommended the Smart ED,

It’s small enough to be a drop in for the Insight, battery and all is pre-integrated in into the subframe.
That’s huge, cause where does the battery go for the RWD leaf sight? In the rear bumper?

And you would have a properly designed sub frame and suspension that come stock in the car, zero fabrication and 100% stock with everything you need to go out the gate.
 

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The i-MiEV drive unit (motor and transaxle) is compact, and I can see it going into an Insight, but I don't know where all the battery would go.

The Smart ED bits seem like a better fit.


So, just to be clear: the idea is to take a FWD parallel hybrid with well-integrated engine and motor (IMA), and turn it into a through-the-road (and so inefficient) parallel plug-in AWD hybrid with gas engine controls and electric motor controls which were not designed to work together at all? I'm having trouble understanding the expected benefit and consequences.


If the original IMA-based hybrid components are not going to be used, this could be done with any random front-wheel-drive subcompact. Granted, the Insight is a slick aerodynamic package with a light aluminum body... but maybe that makes it a decent candidate for a full EV conversion instead of a complex hybrid without enough space to fit all of the components?
 

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... And you would have a properly designed sub frame and suspension that come stock in the car, zero fabrication and 100% stock with everything you need to go out the gate.
True, but I'll note that both i-MiEV (or any Mitsubishi i) and Smart ED (or any Smart) both have somewhat crude DeDion suspensions... and the Smart has a particularly goofy arrangement in which the DeDion tube bends. And both are for lighter cars than this will likely be. It should work, but the result won't be the pinnacle of engineering excellence.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I would be deleting the IMA battery, joining the IMA compartment and Rear trunk together, going a muffler delete and expanding the rear compartment into that area to make room for batteries. The batteries would be removed from the pack and everything not needed to make them run would be removed. This way I could spread them out across the whole back of the Insight.

What parts are you thinking are too big on the Leaf to transfer over with a custom subframe made up?
 

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True, but I'll note that both i-MiEV (or any Mitsubishi i) and Smart ED (or any Smart) both have somewhat crude DeDion suspensions... and the Smart has a particularly goofy arrangement in which the DeDion tube bends. And both are for lighter cars than this will likely be. It should work, but the result won't be the pinnacle of engineering excellence.
Insight is a 1800lb car, all the “crapola” in the back being removed is probably about 250 lbs in total.

The rear suspension on the Insight has been described as feeling like a poorly designed 1970’s car

The smart car “cradle” fully dressed battery and all isn’t likely a whole lot more than that.

My guess is the smart suspension (small as it is) will likely be underloaded under a partially gutted Insight due to the crash shell and bloated nature of the ED compared to the rather lightly loaded back end of the Insight .

If he goes with the smart ed I’m guessing he has only about a week of part time labor investment needed to get around the physical attachment.

Leaf I’m guessing (if very motivated) about 6 months minimum, likely over a year.

That time savings could be used to get the electronics on the smart working in OEM fashion,
The gasser will just be a “gas motor” with an engine kill switch.

I don’t foresee this car working without manual controls and to be honest it will likely work better manually controlled
And probably will still return 50+ mpg given the small weight gain of the smart.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I dislike the Smart due to the small battery and the small motor. I've seen the Leaf driven up over 300hp for a short time. The CRX ran 12.7 with it. I'm planning on doing a full air suspension for the car no matter what so the suspension will adjust to whatever weight I end up with.. My commute is artificially longer due to a terrible road that's 9 miles shorter being unbearably rough, it's bad enough I dislike it in my 2008 Escape Hybrid AWD as well.

Due to age I would be paying as much for the Smart as I would the leaf and arguably getting much less.
 

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I would be deleting the IMA battery, joining the IMA compartment and Rear trunk together, going a muffler delete and expanding the rear compartment into that area to make room for batteries.
By IMA compartment I assume that you mean battery compartment; "IMA" means "Integrated Motor Assist", and would usually refer to just the motor/generator part, although it can refer to the whole system (in which case there still isn't a single "IMA compartment").

Is the plan to run the engine without a muffler? If so, I pity your neighbors...

The batteries would be removed from the pack and everything not needed to make them run would be removed. This way I could spread them out across the whole back of the Insight.
What do you think Nissan put in a Leaf battery pack that you won't need? The same question would apply for any pack, from any manufacturer.

What parts are you thinking are too big on the Leaf to transfer over with a custom subframe made up?
The Leaf motor package is quite tall, not due to the motor (which is down at axle level), but due to the inverter and charger stacked on top of it; Nissan had a whole engine compartment height available, and used it. Using an early Leaf would make it easier to reposition the inverter and charger to fix the height problem (because these parts are not so tightly integrated as in the newer Leaf) but all this stuff (inverter, charger, all electronic boxes) still needs to go somewhere.
The Leaf battery runs under the floor all the way from the rear axle to the front of the front seats. That's a lot more volume than the Insight will have, and in the Insight it would need to compete with the fuel tank and the Leaf motor, inverter, and charger.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
The Insight has two catalytic converters and a very large resonator. It's been done many times in the past with people noting almost no real increase in noise at lower rpms. Mainly from what I've seen on the other builds with Leafs is that there is about 200 pounds of metal that can be removed from the pack. There's a lot of structure that is a bit over the top on it. The main thing would be spreading out the pack because the pack is about 5 feet long, it would be more manageable spread out over the back.

Is the 2013 and newer leaf motor not able to have the inverter, etc divorced from it?
 

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Is the 2013 and newer leaf motor not able to have the inverter, etc divorced from it?
You should be able to separate them, you would just have to run sufficiently large cable between the parts. In the vehicle, they are connected with flat copper bars, about 1 inch wide by 1/8 to 3/16 inch thick (haven't actually measured them yet). I am contemplating this for myself but haven't finalized that thought.

Bill
 

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If your heart is set on leaf go ahead, show us how it’s done,

As for me on my projects whenever I hit a place where I have to start machining lots of parts, my project basically stops and gets expensive
you will enter that place on this project and depending on how good of a machinist you are your budget will likely double over what you expect to pay
Even if the Smart runs $5000 over a leaf it will probably still be cheaper to build.


All the reasons you stated for the leaf and against the Smart are precisely the reasons why I would use the smart. (Size)

The leaf has a 10” Motor which can be overclocked,
10” is huge and unnecessary, most conversions here are 9” the Smart is likely right sized for this project.
The smart motor can likely output more power than it does as well but it’s never been tested.

So Your proposed suspension, the leaf IDS and the rear of the Insight aren’t compatible you will need to do lots of custom stuff.

If you make the rear of the Insight wide enough to handle stock Leaf parts the Insight will loose its aero advantage over any other standard econobox , it’s shape makes the economy, bigger and you may as well grab a Civic or Cobalt or whatever.

Lastly the Leaf is not superior to a 2014+ Smart , generally the Leaf has batteries that loose 5-10 % of their capacity each year, this means a 2012 leaf may only have 60% of its original capacity usable

There are legitimate reasons why a Leaf is a $5000 car compared to other cars with better battery systems
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Can the Smart drivetrain run outside of the vehicle without modification like the Leaf does? I'm looking to be able to drop something in, not have to make my own controller and charger which is why I'm leaning towards the leaf just because I know how it can be done.
 

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Can the Smart drivetrain run outside of the vehicle without modification like the Leaf does?
The Leaf system requires a lot of 'matched' components to work (see list here) and photo below.

I don't know the current status of Leaf CAN hacking. Last time I looked the only realistic way forward with limited space/weight is to use a different inverter, charger, and BMS.

I don't know the current state of Smart CAN hacking nor the minimum system you'd require... maybe rmay635703 can tell us?

If you're open to mix and match systems... then Damien's BMWi motor controller (here) might be interesting :cool:
 

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The Insight has two catalytic converters and a very large resonator. It's been done many times in the past with people noting almost no real increase in noise at lower rpms.
The first comment was about removing the muffler, which would increase noise. Is the plan now to remove the catalytic converters (making the engine run dirty), or just to remove the muffler with the understanding that the catalytic converters will muffle noise sufficiently?

A lot of enthusiasts remove mufflers or replace them with different aftermarket units and say that the result sounds nice. It only sounds nice to them, not to the rest of the world subject to the noise.

Are you saying that you will never use high engine speeds, or that other people just don't matter then?
 

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Mainly from what I've seen on the other builds with Leafs is that there is about 200 pounds of metal that can be removed from the pack. There's a lot of structure that is a bit over the top on it.
Well, as long as you're sure that you are a better engineer than anyone at Nissan, you can produce a lighter housing. More likely, you will produce a less safe housing.

I do understand the idea of re-packaging to suit the vehicle: that's expected in any adaptation of components to a different vehicle. I just wouldn't expect to save any weight.
 
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