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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm getting ready to do a conversion, just doing early research right now. But I'm feeling a little lost and hoping for suggestions from people who have more experience than I!

What I'm looking to do is convert an old early 90s F 150. I'd love to bolt on to the existing manual transmission. (Yes I know one does not simply do that without some fabrication)

I'm having trouble with motor selection, though. Looking at the power figures for most of the common motors out there it seems like they're very inadequate for a 5,000 pound truck. Any suggestions for what could work? Would I have to use a dual motor setup?

Any insight would be very helpful.
 

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I'd visit EV west. They do conversions like this all the time. They probably have the adapter plates and brackets needed to mount a variety of motors to your transmission. They will have motor options that will work for you. Once you get to that point, you'll have a pretty decent idea what this will cost you. By then, you'll know if your 1990's truck is the platform you really want to sink that much money into!
 

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I am using a Nissan LEAF motor with only 80kw for my 5000lb truck, but I am ok with it being sluggish and my goals are primarily for off-road driving. Keeping the manual transmission will let you have tons of ratios to make nearly any motor work. Do you want it to be super fast or just go down the road at a reasonable speed?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I am using a Nissan LEAF motor with only 80kw for my 5000lb truck, but I am ok with it being sluggish and my goals are primarily for off-road driving. Keeping the manual transmission will let you have tons of ratios to make nearly any motor work. Do you want it to be super fast or just go down the road at a reasonable speed?
Ok that's good to know! I don't need it to be a speed demon. My primary goal is off road stuff, though I would like it to be highway drivable so I can get to the off road spots 😁
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hyper 9 seems like a good option, but IDK if anyone has used that with a truck this size.
 

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Have you looked into gigantic forklift motors? That is what I'm looking into for a huge 90's SUV that I'm too ashamed to actually name on these forums. I've seen a few 300 pounder DC forklift motors on eBay recently but the residential shipping is extremely expensive like 300 to 400 dollars.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Have you looked into gigantic forklift motors? That is what I'm looking into for a huge 90's SUV that I'm too ashamed to actually name on these forums. I've seen a few 300 pounder DC forklift motors on eBay recently but the residential shipping is extremely expensive like 300 to 400 dollars.
PLEASE PLEASE tell me it's a suburban. That would be amazing.. and who cares what people on here think. If it speaks to you that's all that matters!

Also... That's an interesting thought! I should check that out.. so another noob question here. Trying to figure out AC vs DC. What are pros and cons? Basically all I've heard is DC is cheaper for the power, but they're lacking in Regen abilities and don't do well on the highway. Is that right?
 

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PLEASE PLEASE tell me it's a suburban. That would be amazing.. and who cares what people on here think. If it speaks to you that's all that matters!

Also... That's an interesting thought! I should check that out.. so another noob question here. Trying to figure out AC vs DC. What are pros and cons? Basically all I've heard is DC is cheaper for the power, but they're lacking in Regen abilities and don't do well on the highway. Is that right?
I'm new to EV conversion scene too and yes It is a 99 suburban 😁... From what I can tell AC is more expensive but offers more options like you described. As for me I'm going DC because that's what I can afford and they seem less complex to set up. If I'm successful then I can drop $30,000 on materials after I gain more experience.
 

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Ok that's good to know! I don't need it to be a speed demon. My primary goal is off road stuff, though I would like it to be highway drivable so I can get to the off road spots 😁
In that case you could follow my build. I am using a Nissan LEAF as my donor simply for the cost per technology benefit of getting a used, modern EV. Using a Resolve-EV controller you can basically turn my wrecked LEAF into any kind of EV you want, as long as the mechanical parts are also taken care of. That gets you not just a motor and battery, but a motor inverter, DC-DC converter, L2 and Chademo chargers, and even heater and AC if desired all included in the price. That was my main motivating factor to choose the LEAF path.

The LEAF is limited to only 80kw, but with the right gearing you can move just about anything with any motor. It just comes down to how fast do you want it to happen. You can also get a custom inverter that can make way more power from the same LEAF motor, Underground Electrics in B.C. has one but it's like $6000. I think there are a couple others but none with the great integration with other components like the Resolve-EV does.

Yes you are correct AC gives you more technology, DC is the old tech in golf carts. Not to say that DC won't work, but IMO it's going backwards when we have all this awesome EV stuff available.

@Indeed Curious that sounds like an awesome project! I used to have a Suburban, wish I never sold it :( I'd be interested in your project if you ever decide to post here!
 

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I think a good place to start would be to set out basic performance goals, then calculate numbers based on your vehicle. You can calculate power required to accelerate to v2 from v1 in a time span, power consumption to maintain a speed, etc. Once you have that you can rule out motors by their power and price, considering the proposed battery pack.

What you will find is weight plays a large factor in all metrics. There is no problem using an F-150 but a Ranger could be the better vehicle numerically. Just decide what is important to your project.
 

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In that case you could follow my build. I am using a Nissan LEAF as my donor simply for the cost per technology benefit of getting a used, modern EV. Using a Resolve-EV controller you can basically turn my wrecked LEAF into any kind of EV you want, as long as the mechanical parts are also taken care of. That gets you not just a motor and battery, but a motor inverter, DC-DC converter, L2 and Chademo chargers, and even heater and AC if desired all included in the price. That was my main motivating factor to choose the LEAF path.

The LEAF is limited to only 80kw, but with the right gearing you can move just about anything with any motor. It just comes down to how fast do you want it to happen. You can also get a custom inverter that can make way more power from the same LEAF motor, Underground Electrics in B.C. has one but it's like $6000. I think there are a couple others but none with the great integration with other components like the Resolve-EV does.

Yes you are correct AC gives you more technology, DC is the old tech in golf carts. Not to say that DC won't work, but IMO it's going backwards when we have all this awesome EV stuff available.

@Indeed Curious that sounds like an awesome project! I used to have a Suburban, wish I never sold it :( I'd be interested in your project if you ever decide to post here!
I've heard that the Nissan Leaf(s) plays good with end users using it's parts in other vehicles. I feel like I should look into pricing for wrecked and salvaged leafs and see what I can come up with. Thanks.
 

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The real question here is efficiency or converting electrons into torque.

Forklift motors are abundant and they are brushed DC motors almost exclusively. Brushed motors vary some for efficiency, but they tend to be 60-70% efficient. This is mostly due to brushes. They create a lot of resistive losses in the motor. The windings are probably not going to get better as this is a well known dynamic in any motor. Anybody making a quality motor will want the windings, armature and stator to be as efficient as is reasonable within the design limits of that motor type. Large brushed motors will be no different in this regard. However, the over all design of a brushed motor is not very efficient.

BLDC or BrushLess DC motors have taken over the world for some great reasons. You see them in vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, power tools, EV's and many other places. It is probably true that they have over taken every other motor option in the ways they have been implemented. BLDC controllers and motors see ongoing design improvements. A few years ago, trapazoidal controllers were all that most people could afford. Sinusoidal and FOC controllers existed, but they were simply too expensive to implement for most uses. Mosfets have made LARGE leaps forward in amperage, lower losses, higher voltages and lower cost. Now days, a 20kw FOC controller can be purchased for around $600. In 2018, you would have spent easily twice that! BLDC motors are mass produced. This drives their cost down considerably! Go to any junk yard and you can find defunct hybrid cars and SUV's with working BLDC motors and controllers in them for very reasonable prices. Efficiencies are usually well above 80% and many are above 90%. Tesla is beating everyone in efficiency and they use BLDC or PMAC motors to do it.

A variation on BLDC is PMAC or Permanent Magnet AC motor. The stator windings and armature are the same as is used in BLDC motors. The difference is how the armature position is encoded. Add halls to a PMAC at 120 degrees apart and any BLDC controller will run a PMAC motor. Add an encoder to a BLDC motor and most any PMAC controller will run it. So if you run across a PMAC motor for cheap, don't let this stop you. Convert it to BLDC. PMAC or rather the AC part of it is confusing. From the perspective of the motor windings, they are always seeing AC current. The current usually makes a sine wave in the windings in either BLDC or PMAC motors. So they are both AC motors. It's really how encoding armature position that creates a distinction between them.

Induction motors have a place. Tesla uses them as their front motor. When the motor is not powered, it creates a small spinning mass resistance. They can't be used for regen since they lack magnets on the armature. Speed control of an induction motor is done by varying the frequency applied to it. Lower frequency makes it spin slower. BLDC motor design can incorporate very low spinning resistance too. This isn't necessarily a good argument for using induction motors.

Lots of people wanting to do car conversions can't afford the cost of a new controller and motor. There are thousands of hybrid and full electric cars and SUVs in salvage yards. This is a great source for the parts you need. The single BIG cost in any motor controller is the high power components. Quite often wrecked cars have a proprietary control solution for running their motor. There are lots of smart people out there that have figured out how to interface to these devices or simply replace them with an open source option and reuse the high power components. Whatever your salvaged controller might be, there's probably someone out there that figured out how to interface to it for repurposing.

Just my opinion perhaps, but there are way too many companies out there that agree with this...
I'd go with BLDC. Controllers and motors are easy to find, cheap and available from thousands of sources. With FOC controllers, you can get some really good efficiencies that are much better than anything else. The up front cost is not that bad when you visit a junk yard for them! This is a very good/best option for a conversion.
 

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The real question here is efficiency or converting electrons into torque. Forklift motors are abundant and they are brushed DC motors almost exclusively. Brushed motors vary some for effiiciency, but they tend to be 60-70% efficient. This is mostly due to brushes. They create a lot of resistive losses in the motor. The windings are probably not going to get better as this is a well known dynamic in any motor. Anybody making a quality motor will want the windings, armature and stator to be as efficient as is reasonable within the design limits of that motor type. Large brushed motors will be no different.

BLDC has taken over the world for some great reasons. You see them in vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, power tools, EV's and many other places. It is probably true that they have over taken every other motor option in the ways they have been implemented. BLDC controllers and motors see ongoing design improvements. A few years ago, trapazoidal controllers were all that most people could afford. Sinusoidal and FOC controllers existed, but they were simply too expensive to implement for most uses. Mosfets have made LARGE leaps forward in amperage, lower losses, higher voltages and lower cost. Now days, a 20kw FOC controller can be purchased for around $600. 2018, you would have spent easily twice that! BLDC motors are mass produced. This drives their cost down considerably! Go to any junk yard and you can find defunct hybrid cars and SUV's with working BLDC motors and controllers in them for very reasonable prices.

A variation on BLDC is PMAC or Permanent Magnet AC motor. The stator windings and armature are the same as is used in BLDC motors. The difference is how the armature position is encoded. Add halls to a PMAC at 120 degrees apart and any BLDC controller will run a PMAC motor. Add an encoder to a BLDC motor and most any PMAC controller will run it. So if you run across a PMAC motor for cheap, don't let this stop you. Convert it to BLDC.

Induction motors have a place. Tesla uses them as their front motor. When the motor is not powered all it creates is some spinning mass resistance. They can't be used for regen since they lack magnets on the armature. However, need a motor that creates almost no resistance, but adds torque when powered up, an induction motor is a good choice. Control of an induction motor is done by varying the frequency applied to it. Lower frequency makes it spin slower. BLDC motor design can incorporate very low spinning resistance too. This isn't necessarily a good argument for using induction motors.

Lots of people wanting to do car conversions can't afford the cost of a new controller and motor. There are thousands of hybrid and full electric cars and SUVs in salvage yards. This is a great source for the parts you need. The single BIG cost in any motor controller is the high power components. Quite often wrecked cars have a proprietary control solution for running their motor. There are lots of smart people out there that have figured out how to interface to these devices or simply replace them with an open source option. Whatever your salvaged controller might be, there's probably someone that out there that figured out how to interface to it for repurposing.

Just my opinion perhaps, but there are way too many companies out there that agree with this...
I'd go with BLDC. Controllers and motors are easy to find, cheap and available from thousands of sources. With FOC controllers, you can get some really good efficiencies that are much better than anything else. The up front cost is not that bad when you visit a junk yard for them! This is a very good/best option for a conversion.
The real question here is efficiency or converting electrons into torque.

Forklift motors are abundant and they are brushed DC motors almost exclusively. Brushed motors vary some for efficiency, but they tend to be 60-70% efficient. This is mostly due to brushes. They create a lot of resistive losses in the motor. The windings are probably not going to get better as this is a well known dynamic in any motor. Anybody making a quality motor will want the windings, armature and stator to be as efficient as is reasonable within the design limits of that motor type. Large brushed motors will be no different in this regard. However, the over all design of a brushed motor is not very efficient.

BLDC or BrushLess DC motors have taken over the world for some great reasons. You see them in vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, power tools, EV's and many other places. It is probably true that they have over taken every other motor option in the ways they have been implemented. BLDC controllers and motors see ongoing design improvements. A few years ago, trapazoidal controllers were all that most people could afford. Sinusoidal and FOC controllers existed, but they were simply too expensive to implement for most uses. Mosfets have made LARGE leaps forward in amperage, lower losses, higher voltages and lower cost. Now days, a 20kw FOC controller can be purchased for around $600. In 2018, you would have spent easily twice that! BLDC motors are mass produced. This drives their cost down considerably! Go to any junk yard and you can find defunct hybrid cars and SUV's with working BLDC motors and controllers in them for very reasonable prices. Efficiencies are usually well above 80% and many are above 90%. Tesla is beating everyone in efficiency and they use BLDC or PMAC motors to do it.

A variation on BLDC is PMAC or Permanent Magnet AC motor. The stator windings and armature are the same as is used in BLDC motors. The difference is how the armature position is encoded. Add halls to a PMAC at 120 degrees apart and any BLDC controller will run a PMAC motor. Add an encoder to a BLDC motor and most any PMAC controller will run it. So if you run across a PMAC motor for cheap, don't let this stop you. Convert it to BLDC. PMAC or rather the AC part of it is confusing. From the perspective of the motor windings, they are always seeing AC current. The current usually makes a sine wave in the windings in either BLDC or PMAC motors. So they are both AC motors. It's really how encoding armature position that creates a distinction between them.

Induction motors have a place. Tesla uses them as their front motor. When the motor is not powered, it creates a small spinning mass resistance. They can't be used for regen since they lack magnets on the armature. Speed control of an induction motor is done by varying the frequency applied to it. Lower frequency makes it spin slower. BLDC motor design can incorporate very low spinning resistance too. This isn't necessarily a good argument for using induction motors.

Lots of people wanting to do car conversions can't afford the cost of a new controller and motor. There are thousands of hybrid and full electric cars and SUVs in salvage yards. This is a great source for the parts you need. The single BIG cost in any motor controller is the high power components. Quite often wrecked cars have a proprietary control solution for running their motor. There are lots of smart people out there that have figured out how to interface to these devices or simply replace them with an open source option and reuse the high power components. Whatever your salvaged controller might be, there's probably someone out there that figured out how to interface to it for repurposing.

Just my opinion perhaps, but there are way too many companies out there that agree with this...
I'd go with BLDC. Controllers and motors are easy to find, cheap and available from thousands of sources. With FOC controllers, you can get some really good efficiencies that are much better than anything else. The up front cost is not that bad when you visit a junk yard for them! This is a very good/best option for a conversion.

I am definitely seeking to avoid the steep costs of converting to an EV. You are providing valuable info I appreciate it.
 

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I've heard that the Nissan Leaf(s) plays good with end users using it's parts in other vehicles. I feel like I should look into pricing for wrecked and salvaged leafs and see what I can come up with. Thanks.
Look at the weight of a Nissan Leaf. They are quite light. Look at the performance you typically get in a Leaf. 0-60 in around 7 seconds. This tells you that the motor in something heavier is going to really struggle. A transmission can help with this and adds its own mechanical losses to the system. Maybe it's just my opinion, but I would only use a Leaf motor and controller in something that weighs LESS than a Leaf. For heavier conversions, like an SUV, you really want a more powerful set up. I'd consider finding a wrecked Tesla and grabbing its motor and controller. After that you can tune it to your power and performance needs and it will be great.
 

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Look at the weight of a Nissan Leaf. They are quite light. Look at the performance you typically get in a Leaf. 0-60 in around 7 seconds. This tells you that the motor in something heavier is going to really struggle. A transmission can help with this and adds its own mechanical losses to the system. Maybe it's just my opinion, but I would only use a Leaf motor and controller in something that weighs LESS than a Leaf. For heavier conversions, like an SUV, you really want a more powerful set up. I'd consider finding a wrecked Tesla and grabbing its motor and controller. After that you can tune it to your power and performance needs and it will be great.
Yeah but Teslas seem so difficult to get working... considering that you have to fool the motor into believing that it's in side of an intact Tesla before it will work. And then you have to get all those battery modules. $$$ those Leaf motor inverter setups are pretty cheap so I'm wondering if you could stack the motors to get twice the performance... I've seen that done with the Chevy bolt motors do you know if this is possible with the leaf?
 

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I think a good place to start would be to set out basic performance goals, then calculate numbers based on your vehicle. You can calculate power required to accelerate to v2 from v1 in a time span, power consumption to maintain a speed, etc. Once you have that you can rule out motors by their power and price, considering the proposed battery pack.

What you will find is weight plays a large factor in all metrics. There is no problem using an F-150 but a Ranger could be the better vehicle numerically. Just decide what is important to your project.
If this is your first conversion, it is probably best to start with a fairly small and light vehicle to convert. Rear wheel drive can make converting to electric easier than front wheel drive due to the simple drive train. Maybe find a little Nissan or Toyota pickup to convert? The lower weight and size will help you a LOT at keeping your wattage and pack capacity costs down. You'll learn so much from this build! You'll see your mistakes and missteps and how you would do another build differently or better next time. It can be done, but there is a large learning curve to going straight to a high power build.
 

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The Leaf motor only has a single output shaft so there is no way to mate them like a Warp motor. Maybe you could stack them in some bespoke setup but that is pretty infeasible. On top of that two inverters would be needed to drive them. It's possible to get more power out of the EM motor than stock but you are stressing parts beyond what they are designed for. For more power look in to open inverter and related work. At that point you can't use off the shelf vcus or hacked canbus to control it. If you want to run a stock Leaf motor, you will need to buy a Leaf motor, Leaf inverter and either an aftermarket vcu/or homemade controller. You can also transplant the complete leaf electrical system in.

A Tesla motor does not require Tesla batteries in order to run, nor does it need an entire Model S transplanted in order to run. The motor and aftermarket controllers are probably cost prohibitive for a basic build. They do exist though.

If you are still planning, get design specs for possible motors and look at what other people use in similar vehicles.
 

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If this is your first conversion, it is probably best to start with a fairly small and light vehicle to convert. Rear wheel drive can make converting to electric easier than front wheel drive due to the simple drive train. Maybe find a little Nissan or Toyota pickup to convert? The lower weight and size will help you a LOT at keeping your wattage and pack capacity costs down. You'll learn so much from this build! You'll see your mistakes and missteps and how you would do another build differently or better next time. It can be done, but there is a large learning curve to going straight to a high power build.
No doubt. At this point I'm learning as much as possible. The whole use a small vehicle thing was the first thing I realized...on the other hand I have a 99 suburban with a blown motor and some hobbies grade R.C trucks and few that I have converted from gas to electric 😁. I know the scales are vastly different as well as the complexities but I'm in know rush. I just don't want to drop 10k or more and have nothing to show for it.
 

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The Leaf motor only has a single output shaft so there is no way to mate them like a Warp motor. Maybe you could stack them in some bespoke setup but that is pretty infeasible. On top of that two inverters would be needed to drive them. It's possible to get more power out of the EM motor than stock but you are stressing parts beyond what they are designed for. For more power look in to open inverter and related work. At that point you can't use off the shelf vcus or hacked canbus to control it. If you want to run a stock Leaf motor, you will need to buy a Leaf motor, Leaf inverter and either an aftermarket vcu/or homemade controller. You can also transplant the complete leaf electrical system in.

A Tesla motor does not require Tesla batteries in order to run, nor does it need an entire Model S transplanted in order to run. The motor and aftermarket controllers are probably cost prohibitive for a basic build. They do exist though.

If you are still planning, get design specs for possible motors and look at what other people use in similar vehicles.
Thank you
 
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