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You've come to the right place.

conversions are wide and varied. There are many different approaches depending on the requirements.

It might help if you give us some clues about your requirements and what type of vehicle you have in mind.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
It might help if you give us some clues about your requirements and what type of vehicle you have in mind.
Thanks Galderdi.

Twice I wrote a big intro.... the first time I must have pushed the wrong button... the second time I had added my companys website so that people could see what we were working on... I don't think it got passed by the Admin.

So here we go again.

I have a Client that has given us the go ahead with turning his 41 Willy's custom pick up in to an EV. We will have a full frame built to match up with whatever we come up with.

We have decent budgets and all of the tools and skills to build the project... what we are lacking in is Knowledge of EV's and what components to choose.

I have been reading through these Forums and have conversed with the guys at EV West and HSR Motors so far.

Still not sure of the direction to go.....
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Here is a picture of what we are starting with. It looks good... but has a poorly built frame with a bunch of small things wrong with the entire build.

willys.jpg
 

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Still not sure of the direction to go.....
Oh, that's easy... take a look at Damien's Tesla powered BMW 8 Series (here) and the open source inverter controller (here). This will allow you to wring maximum performance out off the Tesla drive units at a fraction of the cost of the 'commercial' vendors :cool:

Here are some Tesla projects that will give you some idea of what you can expect from one motor :D

2014 Lotus Evora - Tesla DU, Time Attack Road Car

Tesla Powered Cobra Race Car

Now imagine what you can achieve with two motors :eek:
 

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Thanks Kevin.

That Cobra was built just a few miles from my shop. I plan to reach out to them as well.


We have an opportunity to display the Willy's at SEMA this year.. so the clock is ticking away fast.

I like the open source idea... I just don't want to get over my head. I'm good with regular 12v stuff....

So what would you do Kevin? Buy a written off Tesla and use the parts? Buy from a vendor? Is the Tesla motor and suspension the way to go?

I need to figure out some of this soon so that Art Morrison Ent. can build us the chassis.


Aaron
 

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I like the open source idea... I just don't want to get over my head. I'm good with regular 12v stuff....
You can buy fully assembled and tested inverter controllers from Damien which allow you to treat the motor as a stand alone item with just one low voltage connector. It's incredibly simple and does not require any CAN bus communication, just wiring for throttle, brake, start, etc.

Similar open source projects will soon have controllers for the Tesla battery management system ("BMS"), charger, DCDC, Air Con, etc., etc.

So what would you do Kevin? Buy a written off Tesla and use the parts?
That's the cheapest way without a doubt. It might be worth chatting to Rich Benoit ("Car Guru") who setup the FB group (see list here) who could give you some impartial advice on wrecked cars.

Buy from a vendor?
That's an 'easy' option but will typically cost you 3-10x the price and if you're not careful tie you into a closed solution (i.e. where only the vendor knows how the system works :rolleyes:).

Is the Tesla motor and suspension the way to go?
Personally I think that's overkill for many vehicles and most fabricators that I know like the freedom to design their own suspension system. Here are a couple of interesting projects that are just using the Tesla drive unit;

Tesla Powered Nissan 350Z

The TesLorean
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the quick reply Kevin.

I guess I have a bit more reading to do..... Hopefully I will have some time to go through it tonight.
 

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Is the Tesla motor and suspension the way to go?
I haven't seen anyone in this forum put in a suspension which appears in any way to be better than the Tesla Model S suspension; that's not surprising simply because the Tesla suspension is a typical modern design for an expensive car. The big reasons that I see to use a different suspension (not Tesla's) are:
  1. undamaged suspensions are likely less available than the drive units
  2. buying (even as salvage) the Tesla suspension is expensive compared to using the parts the project car already has, and perhaps even expensive compared to aftermarket components or other salvage parts
  3. the Tesla suspension is designed to work with their subframe, which is designed to fit their structure; the original suspension of the car being converted fits that car properly
  4. the Tesla Model S has a rear track dimension of 66.9"; this is relatively wide (because it is a large car), so it is too wide for many vehicles (for comparison, a stock Lotus Evora has a 62" rear track)
On the other hand, there is a long street rod tradition of using the entire suspension from some donor vehicle... to the point that many cars are essentially re-body jobs on some modern vehicle (often a Corvette), rather than upgrades to components of a classic car. You can't really put a Willys truck body on a Tesla Model S structure, but if you have the fender width available you could put an entire Model S rear drive and suspension assembly (everything attached to the rear subframe) under the back of the truck. You could do the front, too, for compatible dynamic behaviour... again if the width works. With both ends swapped, you would have a choice of front wheel drive (no!), rear wheel drive, or all wheel drive. You would also have one remarkably expensive Willys.
 

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I haven't seen anyone in this forum put in a suspension which appears in any way to be better than the Tesla Model S suspension; that's not surprising simply because the Tesla suspension is a typical modern design for an expensive car. The big reasons that I see to use a different suspension (not Tesla's) are:
  1. undamaged suspensions are likely less available than the drive units
  2. buying (even as salvage) the Tesla suspension is expensive compared to using the parts the project car already has, and perhaps even expensive compared to aftermarket components or other salvage parts
  3. the Tesla suspension is designed to work with their subframe, which is designed to fit their structure; the original suspension of the car being converted fits that car properly
  4. the Tesla Model S has a rear track dimension of 66.9"; this is relatively wide (because it is a large car), so it is too wide for many vehicles (for comparison, a stock Lotus Evora has a 62" rear track)
On the other hand, there is a long street rod tradition of using the entire suspension from some donor vehicle... to the point that many cars are essentially re-body jobs on some modern vehicle (often a Corvette), rather than upgrades to components of a classic car. You can't really put a Willys truck body on a Tesla Model S structure, but if you have the fender width available you could put an entire Model S rear drive and suspension assembly (everything attached to the rear subframe) under the back of the truck. You could do the front, too, for compatible dynamic behaviour... again if the width works. With both ends swapped, you would have a choice of front wheel drive (no!), rear wheel drive, or all wheel drive. You would also have one remarkably expensive Willys.


Lets first skip to your last sentence....."What's remarkably expensive" to you???

I don't have an open budget, but we are working with enough to build at the level we currently do.

Currently I am in talks with Art Morrison for one of their chassis. The Chassis with a IFS and IRS is around $25us A big cost of that is the IRS. So replacing that with the Tesla is possible.

I will get a true measurement of the front and rear axles when I'm back at the shop in the morning.

On a drawing from Art Morrison based on another Willy's they have done the front has a track with of 63.125" and 67.5rear"
So the Tesla could fit in the rear....

The all wheel drive would be fantastic.... but at a larger cost and with the days till SEMA flying by..... But how much more???

285 days left to build this..... on top of the other 6 cars we are doing.
 

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Lets first skip to your last sentence....."What's remarkably expensive" to you???
Probably something like what you're planning, given your other comments. :)

I don't have an open budget, but we are working with enough to build at the level we currently do.

Currently I am in talks with Art Morrison for one of their chassis. The Chassis with a IFS and IRS is around $25us A big cost of that is the IRS. So replacing that with the Tesla is possible.
Builds of '41 Willys pickup could be anything from making a beater street-worthy for a few thousand dollars, to building a completely custom vehicle - which happens to look a bit like a Willys pickup - for hundreds of thousands. Even before I saw the price, just the mention of a complete Art Morrison chassis made me suspect that you'll be well up the range, and Tesla suspension parts are likely to be a reasonable option.

I've looked at the Art Morrison IRS before, and it looks like a nice design (using GM hub carriers from the Zeta platform used by the Camaro and various Holdens); however, I think you would have trouble squeezing a Tesla drive unit between the mounting points of this suspension, especially with the wider (at the motor housing) rear units. There's a top view in the Hot Rod article introducing this IRS; superimpose a Tesla drive unit and I don't think they'll fit, even with subframe modifications.

AWD?... it would add cost, but doesn't seem unreasonable.

I will get a true measurement of the front and rear axles when I'm back at the shop in the morning.

On a drawing from Art Morrison based on another Willy's they have done the front has a track with of 63.125" and 67.5rear"
So the Tesla could fit in the rear....
That sounds really wide for an old pickup... about four or five inches too wide at each end. I wondered if those dimensions might width across the outside sidewalls of the tires, rather than track width, but they're not wide enough for that. My guess is that the other Willy's was running much greater wheel front spacing than stock (so 2" less wheel offset, and so 4" greater track). If that's what fits, then I agree that the Tesla suspension would likely fit... in the rear.

The Willys pickup is significantly wider in the rear than the front. Apparently this was the result of basing the pickup on their sedan, and only using a wider axle at the rear (because the front body was the same as the sedan). Since that's not how cars are build now, width of Tesla bits would likely be an issue at the front.

285 days left to build this..... on top of the other 6 cars we are doing.
To me, a time crunch and hard deadline argue in favour of using a complete assembly of drive unit, suspension, and subframe, since you know they all work and all work together. The most straightforward might be all-Tesla at the rear, Art Morrison at the front, and rear-wheel-drive only.
 
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