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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey folks I'm new to the forum so sorry if I posted this in the wrong subtopic.

I'm looking to convert a 2010 Ford Escape with a 5-speed, and I've narrowed down the motor and battery combinations to three.
  • A Netgain Hyper9 (not high voltage) and 8 tesla model s modules 4s2p configuration
  • A Hyper9 HV and 7 tesla model s modules all in series
  • A leaf motor (with the stock fixed differential removed) and thunderstruck VCU with some of the new OX drive batteries from Electric GT (using tesla batteries would be crazy expensive to get the DC voltage high enough for the leaf inverter)
One of the advantages of the Hyper9 systems are that there are motor adapter plates available for my transmission, so I wouldn't need to fabricate one on my own.

Which one do you think I should go for?
 

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Who's giving you this advice?

I don't know if I've seen a single Hyper9 project complete by an amateur, they seem a bit more popular for conversion shops that want you dropping tens of thousands on a conversion, for a drop-in product. My opinion is that they're overpriced, untested, and underengineered compared to almost anything else. Mostly just overpriced, I'm sure they're fine otherwise. They're purpose-built for the DIY EV market which is.... almost zero vehicles a year.

Back in the day, 10 years ago, when people were doing DC builds, people were buying Impulse and Warp 9s, and even then for almost no point compared to a $200 used forklift motor which is functionally the same thing.

A Leaf motor is at least engineered to OEM standards and proven to work in, I dunno, 2000x as many vehicles as Hyper9s have ever been sold? (~500,000 Leafs out there, I would be shocked if there were even 250 total Hyper9s, and more than 25 inside vehicles versus conversion shop shelves).

I'd be highly partial to the Leaf motor, and for you to call up a scrapper yourself, not order it from a conversion shop.

Using the Leaf inverter, you have 2 open source solutions: OpenInverter.org and EVBMW.com . The control board from OpenInverter takes lower level control of the inverter and you can tell it to do whatever you want. The one from EVBMW emulates the old Leaf signals and uses them as-is, so you can only demand from it whatever the original Leaf did. Both are very affordable.

But while you're considering, this last year Prius parts have taken off in the DIY scene, as they're far cheaper than Leaf parts and generally easier to hack. Depends if the extra $1000 or two matters to you. Also, the inverters have almost everything else you'd need: DC-DC converter for your 12v, air conditioner compressors and inverters, high voltage boost converters so a lower voltage battery can spin the motor faster if/when it needs to, a second inverter that can be used as a battery charger. All nicely bundled.

Batteries are a separate conversation, but I'd say hold off on buying them, as everyone takes longer to finish their build than they think and battery options are changing all the time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Funny you say that because I've seen almost the opposite. I have heard relatively little about conversions with leaf motors, but quite a bit with various Netgain motors.

One thing that I think would be important is having enough power. Wikipedia says that the motor in a Toyota Prius is only 60kw. That's not going to be enough for converting a Ford Escape, which is a fairly heavy car.

As for the leaf motor, I've looked into the thunderstruck VCU so far. Not yet any of the other things.

I've put aside quite a bit of money for this project so I don't think I will need to make big sacrifices on motors and inverters. Other Prius parts seem interesting though. How do you "hack" factory Prius parts like the charger, DCDC converter, and AC compressor?

Good idea on the batteries though. It seems to be really the only part where innovation and new technologies seem to be constantly coming available.
 

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By removing the "stock fixed differential" from a Leaf motor, do you mean removing the whole fixed-ratio transaxle, leaving just the motor? Why would you do that, and then have to adapt the motor to the Escape transaxle... just to use the Escape's AWD system?
 

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quite a bit with various Netgain motors.
I'm trying to think of a single DIY (not conversion shop) build that uses them, and, I'm drawing a blank. Not to say there aren't any, just nothing memorable comes to mind.

One thing that I think would be important is having enough power. Wikipedia says that the motor in a Toyota Prius is only 60kw. That's not going to be enough for converting a Ford Escape, which is a fairly heavy car.
You can overdrive the hell out of them. Toyotas have fantastic engineering on them. Just bulletproof. Everything fails gracefully, and only when necessary. The Prius Gen 3 inverter was tested to 700hp as I recall, when I think it finally tapered itself back due to either overcurrent or heat, I forget which. And I think that was without any water cooling. You can pick one up for like, $150, plus the control board swap (toss the old, screw the new one down right back into the old one's place), and you're ready to go. The Gen 2 is good for 480hp.

The motors (transaxles really) themselves aren't quite as overbuilt (I would doubt you'd get 700hp), but they do have dual-motors and one of the open source boards has slaved the outputs of the inverter to drive both of them at the same time, automatically. I think they're more than capable of handling a vehicle 3000 lb vehicle. The usual logic is, if you need more power, then instead buy a GS450H motor, which is inside the transmission, it's good for lots and lots of power and easily set up for RWD (which your Escape won't be). A bit more pricey, harder to find, but seems to have more development interest lately. A third option is to get the Toyota MGR, a rear motor/diff combo thing, and add that independently onto your existing FWD build. It wasn't designed for full-time use, so it's suggested to add an oil pump and a small cooler to it.

How do you "hack" factory Prius parts like the charger, DCDC converter, and AC compressor?
AC compressor, not sure if anyone's released an open source solution.

DC-DC converter on the Prius Gen 2 is as simple as 1 wire to 12vdc+ I think, it's a separate module inside the inverter. Good for around 1000 watts IIRC. It's sufficient to power a smaller heater directly, if you needed a modest heating controller.

The charger just uses one of the inverters to charge the battery. I think it's built into the functionality on the Prius Gen 2 unit Johannes developed, not sure what's there for Gen 3.

...

If you've money to spend, I guess just spend it. If you're looking at spending $10k-20k on a conversion, yeah, just go spend money. If you're limited by budget, there's a lot more that's accessible.
 

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Hi Matt and ReiderM

For what it's worth I agree with Matt. The oem gear is alot better engineered and now cheaper than the old netgain and hyper stuff and many people are doing great work hacking inverters to make things easier for the rest of us non electrical engineer types. The hardest part can be choosing the right oem product to use when the choice is so great (tesla, leaf, prius, gs450h, outlander....etc).

On that note, Matt (or anyone), fo you think you could run the leaf motor from a prius inverter? The leaf motor has a great form factor and can be mounted in more situations more easily than the prius transaxle but the prius inverter seems to have more head room for development.

Thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
On that note, Matt (or anyone), fo you think you could run the leaf motor from a prius inverter? The leaf motor has a great form factor and can be mounted in more situations more easily than the prius transaxle but the prius inverter seems to have more head room for development.

Thoughts?
Thanks for the response! Why would you want to run a prius inverter with a leaf motor? The leaf motor and controller are essentially in a "stack" and can't be easily disassembled. I think that the liquid cooling lines run through both the motor and controller as well. Also, the leaf motor and inverter are more powerful than those in the prius.

My suggestion would be to just use a prius motor if you're going to use the prius inverter. Take what I say with a grain of salt though, as I haven't yet completed a conversion.
 

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Im still a newbee to conversions too. The leaf motor gearbox and inverter all separate into individual pieces even tho Nissan packages them as a tower. The leaf motor is alot easier to mount in a conversion in alot of cars compared to the priuses transaxle.

While in factory form the leaf is more powerful than the prius, it seems the prius inverter has alot of headroom for further development as well as a buck boost converter built in and very well engineered protections from factory.

Im no expert tho so id love to hearfrom some others with more knowledge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
You can overdrive the hell out of them. Toyotas have fantastic engineering on them. Just bulletproof. Everything fails gracefully, and only when necessary. The Prius Gen 3 inverter was tested to 700hp as I recall, when I think it finally tapered itself back due to either overcurrent or heat, I forget which. And I think that was without any water cooling. You can pick one up for like, $150, plus the control board swap (toss the old, screw the new one down right back into the old one's place), and you're ready to go. The Gen 2 is good for 480hp.

AC compressor, not sure if anyone's released an open source solution.

DC-DC converter on the Prius Gen 2 is as simple as 1 wire to 12vdc+ I think, it's a separate module inside the inverter. Good for around 1000 watts IIRC. It's sufficient to power a smaller heater directly, if you needed a modest heating controller.

The charger just uses one of the inverters to charge the battery. I think it's built into the functionality on the Prius Gen 2 unit Johannes developed, not sure what's there for Gen 3.

...

If you've money to spend, I guess just spend it. If you're looking at spending $10k-20k on a conversion, yeah, just go spend money. If you're limited by budget, there's a lot more that's accessible.
Thanks for the response. I'm willing to spend what's needed within reason to get this car to be a capable daily driver with at least 120 miles of range (hopefully closer to 150). My rough estimates would place this at a pack capacity of 45 kwh.

Of course, I don't want to throw away money for no reason, so I'm definitely still considering the leaf motor. My biggest concern with a leaf motor is the voltage required to run it. Obviously, you get less power at 200 volts of input DC power than at the maximum that the leaf inverter accepts (400). For that reason, I would definitely want to have a pack voltage that is close to the max that a Nissan leaf inverter accepts, since they aren't particularly powerful to begin with. Using tesla modules, this is way too expensive considering each module is only 22v or so nominal and cost close to $1500 each. My concern with leaf modules is the degradation and energy density. I'm not sure how I'd fit 45 kwh of leaf modules into my Escape. Also, winters get cold where I live, so not having a way to heat the batteries is a big downside. Same goes for the electric GT batteries, which cost even more than tesla modules per kwh.

I'm having a hard time finding anyone who used a prius motor and inverter (at least from a quick search). Could you point me towards some resources for that? If what you're saying can be achieved in practice, I feel like that's almost a no-brainer. Looking at the prius motor online though, it seems small, and, well, prius-like. Obviously I'm pretty new to conversions and you have loads more experience, so what it looks like to me might not be very accurate in reality.

Thanks again for your time.
 

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On that note, Matt (or anyone), fo you think you could run the leaf motor from a prius inverter?
Certainly, yes.

You'd have to run through a tuning procedure that, at first seemed like a bit of an EE black magic but now has a fairly simple-brained set of both video and text tutorial. I think you're likely to succeed. And, regardless, there's now a parameter database so if ever anyone does get a good set of robust parameters, you can just use theirs. Or, subscribe to it and have it update as people further refine it.

Why would you want to run a prius inverter with a leaf motor?
Form factor, cost, or perhaps the donor has a blown inverter?

It's always hard pinning down which open source project will see more development in the future, as it depends so heavily on the passions and efforts of the few doing the hardest essential work of it (some of us can supplement and make it easier to adopt or polish, but lack the ability to lead or sail the efforts into new waters). That said, the versatility of the Prius Gen 3 (and to some degree, the Gen 2) seems to be leading the pack, back and forth with the GS450H. New stuff is happening monthly. I haven't heard Leaf news in a year or two.

My suggestion would be to just use a prius motor if you're going to use the prius inverter.
I don't agree with that, there's no advantage.

Suppose as you do that you only had a Prius inverter and are not changing that.

The Prius motor is presumably weaker than the Leaf motor. What is gained from moving from a Leaf down to a Prius motor? What does this have to do with which inverter you chose? A Prius inverter is no more paired or suited to driving a Prius motor than a Leaf motor. The choice of motor and inverter can thus be made independently of each other.

Package-wise, I generally think it's simpler to keep the Leaf inverter with the Leaf motor, just because they mechanically mate and were designed that way. The Prius inverter is mounted elsewhere, so, it's fine for either motor.

My biggest concern with a leaf motor is the voltage required to run it. Obviously, you get less power at 200 volts of input DC power than at the maximum that the leaf inverter accepts (400).
Indeed, and that's an important distinction to be made. Many critics presume that motors and inverters MUST be run at their max OEM voltage, when appears to be never true. Perhaps if you're using the original CAN comms, the computer would probably crap out, but, inverter-wise that's not true. In fact, Toyota hybrid hardware (Prius/Camry/Lexus/Highlander/Corolla/etc) generally are built for cars with low voltage packs (200ish), and then use a boost converter built into the inverter enclosure to rack it up. However, tests show that it only does this when needed, not constantly, that boost converter is toggled in and out of use.

That said, do you need the additional power? Would you use it? Would you notice if your pack was run at a lower voltage? Depends on you.

My concern with leaf modules is the degradation and energy density.
Energy density, yeah.

Degredation, apparently first gens are awful, but after that they're all respectable, nothing frightening.

Again, battery considerations are agnostic of motor or inverter considerations. Choose what works for you.

I'm having a hard time finding anyone who used a prius motor and inverter (at least from a quick search). Could you point me towards some resources for that?
Because it's a recent(ish) development, with respect to how long it takes people to complete project cars, there aren't many out there. But that's the direction I see most people headed. To the point of, conversion classes taught last year amounted to somewhere around a hundred projects focused on repurposed hybrid hardware in a conversion.

You'll see a lot more of them on the OpenInverter.org forums, where the community that's done the reverse engineering and support for it has congregated.

I'd say there are more repurposed hybrid projects out there than all other current builds combined, based on, when people do their research, what seems most accessible and likely to succeed for them. So, use that as your metric if you'd like. This is of course speculation, I'm going by what I observe and mentally catalog.

Looking at the prius motor online though, it seems small, and, well, prius-like.
I would say it's not performance-oriented, no. I'm weak on the specifics of the degree to which they're abusable beyond OEM spec. As I said, inverters seem to be good for 800%, short term, but I wouldn't say motors would be anywhere close.

Obviously I'm pretty new to conversions and you have loads more experience, so what it looks like to me might not be very accurate in reality.
Don't let me overstate my experience, I've yet to actually complete a conversion myself, though that's typical of large projects for me, life halts progress. That said, I do make efforts to help others and to collimate the advice and efforts of the community into something more usable by beginners, so, that's my perspective. I'm offering the advice I'm seeing is working best for people with the current DIY EV meta.
 

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... The leaf motor and controller are essentially in a "stack" and can't be easily disassembled.
... The leaf motor gearbox and inverter all separate into individual pieces even tho Nissan packages them as a tower.
The very early Leaf setup has the motor, inverter, and accessory package (charger, DC-DC, whatever...) in a stack which can be readily separated, with external cables between them. After that, the stack is more integrated, with terminals sticking out of one component to insert into sockets in the next one, so that if you unstack them you need to fabricate cables, connectors, and seals for the openings in the housings.
 

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I've actually been reconsidering my low-voltage (108V nominal) setup this last week and I'd like to move to a high-voltage system. I have an HPEVS AC35x2 dual-stator induction motor and Curtis 1239E controllers to drive it (along with some other stuff). This would work with the adapter plate for your 5 speed as long as it will fit in your engine bay (the motor case is about 24" long). PM me if you're interested. The parts are all un-used. Zero miles on any of it, so they're basically new but will be cheaper than buying from a retailer.

Sam
 

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Hey folks I'm new to the forum so sorry if I posted this in the wrong subtopic.

I'm looking to convert a 2010 Ford Escape with a 5-speed, and I've narrowed down the motor and battery combinations to three.
  • A Netgain Hyper9 (not high voltage) and 8 tesla model s modules 4s2p configuration
  • A Hyper9 HV and 7 tesla model s modules all in series
  • A leaf motor (with the stock fixed differential removed) and thunderstruck VCU with some of the new OX drive batteries from Electric GT (using tesla batteries would be crazy expensive to get the DC voltage high enough for the leaf inverter)
One of the advantages of the Hyper9 systems are that there are motor adapter plates available for my transmission, so I wouldn't need to fabricate one on my own.

Which one do you think I should go for?
* A Netgain Hyper9 (not high voltage) and 8 tesla model s modules 4s2p configuration

Sounds like that'll be within your abilities and addresses your tooling limitations. You'll never finish your project with the amount of stretch and mods the experts here are suggesting.

Frankly, the difference in cost needs to factor your time. Saving $2000 only to put in an extra 500 hours of effort says a job at McDonalds is a better idea.

As an aside, putting the Tesla modules in parallel means the series configs need to be perfect in terms of voltage, or you'll have some serious fireworks. Best way I can think of is to charge them close in voltage, then put a huge bleed resistor between the two series strings and let the strings equalize over a few days. Then connect in parallel.
 

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Certainly, yes.

You'd have to run through a tuning procedure that, at first seemed like a bit of an EE black magic but now has a fairly simple-brained set of both video and text tutorial. I think you're likely to succeed. And, regardless, there's now a parameter database so if ever anyone does get a good set of robust parameters, you can just use theirs. Or, subscribe to it and have it update as people further refine it.


That was my feelings Matt and Im glad you think its possible. I was thinking of using a gs450h gearbox but this might be a new avenue to explore due to the gs450h external oil pump putting me off and the availability of leaf and prius parts where I am compared to everything else.
 

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That was my feelings Matt and Im glad you think its possible. I was thinking of using a gs450h gearbox but this might be a new avenue to explore due to the gs450h external oil pump putting me off and the availability of leaf and prius parts where I am compared to everything else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
As an aside, putting the Tesla modules in parallel means the series configs need to be perfect in terms of voltage, or you'll have some serious fireworks. Best way I can think of is to charge them close in voltage, then put a huge bleed resistor between the two series strings and let the strings equalize over a few days. Then connect in parallel.
Thanks for providing a different perspective. A Prius-based system just doesn't seem tested enough at this stage, and the GS450H has the motors integrated into the transmission, which wouldn't work well with my front-wheel drive Ford Escape.

When you say that the voltages need to match perfectly, isn't that something that a BMS will handle anyways? I'm 100% planning on using a BMS with this conversions because there is no way I'm taking any chances with lithium fires from overcharging/unbalanced cells. Right now the Orion BMS 2 is what I have planned to buy when the time comes. I haven't poured over specs and features for that BMS too extensively, but I know that a number of people have used them in their conversions with tesla modules.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I've actually been reconsidering my low-voltage (108V nominal) setup this last week and I'd like to move to a high-voltage system. I have an HPEVS AC35x2 dual-stator induction motor and Curtis 1239E controllers to drive it (along with some other stuff). This would work with the adapter plate for your 5 speed as long as it will fit in your engine bay (the motor case is about 24" long). PM me if you're interested. The parts are all un-used. Zero miles on any of it, so they're basically new but will be cheaper than buying from a retailer.

Sam
Sent. Thanks for the offer mate!
 

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When you say that the voltages need to match perfectly, isn't that something that a BMS will handle anyways?
No, the BMS won't help unless you have the modules in separately-managed strings, and even then at some point you need to connect them and at that point if they are at different voltages it will be dramatic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
No, the BMS won't help unless you have the modules in separately-managed strings, and even then at some point you need to connect them and at that point if they are at different voltages it will be dramatic.
Ah ok. So how does everyone else set up and use parallel connections then?
 

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Frankly, the difference in cost needs to factor your time. Saving $2000 only to put in an extra 500 hours of effort says a job at McDonalds is a better

Hi Remy

I agree with you the quickest way to get a car up and running is to buy a kit type arrangement like a hyper 9 and getba few tesla modules. If your aim is simplicity and speed then that's probably a good idea.

The downside is cost and the OP asked people for there opinions. I would rather try to get a oem product to run because there cheaper, better engineered and part of the journey for me to to learn some things.

I dont think either approach is wrong, its more horses for courses in my book
 
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