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Nissan Leaf powered VW Beetle or Käfer

8812 Views 12 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  keep
Hi guys,

I wanted to show you our 1967 VW beetle electric conversion. It is powered by a Gen 2 Nissan Leaf motor and inverter controlled by our ECU. The batteries are also Nissan Leaf. We have also made a couple of videos about it. Unfortunately its in German but maybe also interesting for you.

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I turned on YouTube's computer-generated translated captions - the translation is not great (some of the translated text is ridiculous), but still useful.

This is the first conversion of an air-cooled VW that I have seen with a Leaf motor. It appears that the Leaf motor, inverter, and battery were used, but not the charger or transaxle.

It's tidy, and the parcel shelf battery pack box is particularly nice. It's unfortunate that the two battery packs and other components use all of the cargo space, in both the parcel shelf area and the front.

That's an interesting round display with surrounding control dial. I hope no one ever tries to use that while driving!
Do you shift it, or just keep it in one gear?
And a related question: does it have a clutch?
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Why would it need a clutch?
Need? It wouldn't.
Why would a clutch be used? Mostly to make shifting easier. Of course if it is not shifted the clutch would be relatively pointless, which is why my question about the clutch goes with wjbitner's question about whether or not it is shifted. This is not specific to the Beetle (Käfer), or to VW, or to the Leaf motor.

Most conversions which retain the original transmission also retain the clutch. It's far from ideal, but there are reasons for it and it is common... so I think it's reasonable to ask if it was done in this case.
The reason it's common is as a coupler and pilot bearing support to the transmission input shaft.
A clutch certainly isn't needed to support the transmission input shaft. That's done, in a traditional system, by a pilot bearing in the flywheel - the clutch could be missing entirely and the transmission input shaft would still be supported. Instead of an adapter to bolt the flywheel onto the motor shaft, an adapter mounted on the motor shaft could both support and spline onto the transmission input shaft.

It's not needed for shifting an electric.
It's not needed, but as many conversion drivers have reported, shifting without a clutch (and without active control of motor speed during shifting) is possible but slow and difficult. A permanently coupled motor adds huge inertia to the input shaft (which normally has nothing but a clutch disk spinning with it), so the synchros have way too much work to do to force the input shaft speed up (in an downshift) or down (in an upshift) to allow the next gear to engage.

People who do clutchless conversions retaining the original transmission tend to either just leave the transmission in one gear all of the time, or shift only rarely; they don't shift as with an engine to keep the motor speed optimal, because shifting doesn't work well enough.

But all of this is not really about keep's Beetle... at least until we hear whether or not it has a clutch and whether or not it is shifted.
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Most shifty types use the tach or engine sound to shift, but I suppose you have a point for those trying to jam gears with a thousand RPM difference.
It isn't just a matter of the driver's competence: unless the driver is double-declutching and blipping the accelerator (or in a clutchless case, just manipulating the accelerator to control motor speed), even with perfect timing the synchro rings still need to apply all of the torque required to change the input shaft speed. That's what synchro rings exist to do, but that's a lot more torque or for a much longer time with the motor attached and acting as a massive flywheel.

In an upshift, the input shaft needs to slow down - that takes (in a shifting time scale) approximately forever with a freewheeling electric motor, unless the shift fork forces the synchro to slow the motor down... a lot more work than the synchro is intended to do.
In a downshift, the input shaft needs to speed up - that will never happen with a freewheeling electric motor, so either the accelerator needs to be blipped or the shift fork must force the synchro to speed the motor up... vastly more work than the synchro is intended to do.

This is still all irrelevant to keep's Beetle if it is just left in one gear (likely second or third).
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