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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good morning all,

My name is Garrett, I am 38 and live about 40 minutes north of Ann Arbor, Michigan. I work as an engineering manager at an automotive interiors plant.

I joined this forum to start doing research on the concept of adding an electric motor/motors to the rear of a FWD vehicle in the hopes of creating a occasional use AWD system for speeds below 10mph. This is mainly due to where I live. I live off of a dirt road that is one of the last to get plowed during the winter months (not that our current winter has provided any snow) and have a steep driveway with a kink in the middle. So if I don't have AWD to at least get up my driveway I am in trouble. It's not often but there are times when it is necessary regardless of snow tires. My wife had a FWD vehicle at one time that we put good snow tires on and it would still not get up some days.

I currently drive a 2010 F150 but eventually I would like to get into a van. It suits my hobbies and lifestyle better than a truck. Problem is if you look at a Transit they don't make AWD and Sprinters are available but cost so much more when you add that option. And the money is hard to spend when I really only need the AWD/4x4 capability 2% of my yearly driving at most. other than that FWD would be fine. Which lead me to look a the Ram Promaster. I like the funky look and the FWD platform suits my everyday driving habits but I know it still would not perform well in harsh winter conditions around my house.

So that's why I want to start researching the possibility of adding some type of rear wheel drive system that would only be needed on the rare occasion of crap weather and an unshoveled driveway.

Okay I think that's long winded enough. Thanks for having me!
 

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Welcome!

about 40 minutes north of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
That's a first... I've heard of the Upper Peninsula (UP), the lower peninsula, and even the thumb (of the mitt-shaped lower peninsula) :)), but never mid-Michigan. :D

I joined this forum to start doing research on the concept of adding an electric motor/motors to the rear of a FWD vehicle in the hopes of creating a occasional use AWD system for speeds below 10mph.
My guess is that you already know that this is how the Toyota and Honda hybrid AWD systems work - the rear axle is only driven electrically, and is only driven when needed (plus used for regenerative braking).

Of course the ProMaster (Fiat Ducato) is not a hybrid, but you could add a belt-driven generator to make a parallel hybrid. There is an AWD Ducato in Europe, so a final drive unit and suitable suspension/axle have been used under the rear of this van.

Problem is if you look at a Transit they don't make AWD and Sprinters are available but cost so much more when you add that option.
The operating cost and tendency to rust of a Sprinter would scare me away from them, even if the AWD were affordable. The Transit, on the other hand, is available with 4X4, as a Ford-approved conversion from Quigley; it's not cheap, and I don't know if the Magna transfer used is a full-time ("AWD") unit or just a basic part-time thing. There also appears to be a Ford factory AWD version, but only in Europe and presumably based on the front-wheel-drive variant of the Transit which is not sold in North America.

While you wouldn't be using a van with an Al-Ko chassis (they build rear chassis sections for motorhomes and speciality vehicles using the front of front-wheel-drive vehicles such as the Ducato), you might find their Hybrid Power Chassis interesting (see also: announcement with documents).

Here's an old (2010) variant from a Practical Motorhome article about the "Electric Power Chassis":


I don't really like the old setup with a separate motor and final drive shown in the Practical Motorhome article, since the integrated drive unit of a Toyota (RAV4, Highlander, RX, etc) or Honda (Pilot) makes more sense to me... but it is the sort of thing that a DIY builder could put together with whatever motor and controller they want to use, without hacking the Toyota or Honda OEM controls. It was just a demonstration system, since Al-Ko's website shows a much better integrated design, now labelled as "hybrid" rather than "electric". Of course you would use a different suspension, since that Al-Ko setup (based on their trailer chassis components) is only available in Europe. The Honda system even has separate left and right side motors (all in one housing and coordinated) so it doesn't need a differential and can apply desired torque independently to each wheel.


I'm looking forward to see the project in the conversions section of the forum, or discussion of potential components in the technical, motors, or controllers sections.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for all of that information Brian. I was not aware of the Al-Ko chassis or the fact that Toyota/Honda hybrids worked in that manner. This is literally my first venture into anything electrical on a vehicle (aside from basic wiring and stereo stuff) so I have A LOT to learn.

That Al-Ko chassis is definitely interesting and I have found a few other items online that I am researching as well. Honestly if I could find someone to do the work for me that would be ideal. I am all for wrenching and making things and creating new ideas but I also work a ton and have two children under 7 with activities that eat up a ton of time. Ideally; I would find someone who could do this conversion over the course of a couple months this summer and I would just daily my 86 911 for a while. But I am not holding my breath on that one.

I will most likely purchase the vehicle and then get it fitted to my liking over the next few months while I research and gather parts for this project.

Thanks again!
 

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I will most likely purchase the vehicle and then get it fitted to my liking over the next few months while I research and gather parts for this project.
My only caution would be to not purchase the van before confirming either that the conversion is feasible, or that you will be happy with the van without the electric drive modification... because it's a far from trivial project, even for someone with relevant experience.
 
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