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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello!

  • Not incredibly mechanically inclined, no current fabrication skills
  • 50-mile range
  • Would be ecstatic with 150hp (would definitely add some more rigid support in this scenario), realistically 100-125hp
  • Trying to spend around $10-15k
  • I've considered basically everything under the sun. The car is automatic which adds another step to the conversion. My latest plan is to use a donor Fiat 500e which shares the exact same wheelbase and nearly the same track width (within a few cms). My theoretical plan is to take the motor, inverter, control unit, powertrain, and theoretically the front and rear subframes to hold it together as well as upgrade the suspension.


Really looking for any advice at all. I do get that this is an incredibly complex project but haven't been able to figure out the best approach.

Thanks in advance!

120428
 

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That's a really beautiful car! I like the mismatched headlights - a little 'two-sided' vibe there.

500e is a great starting point - just about exactly what you want in terms of power and range.
Nissan Leaf is similar of course, but it's more documented so it might be easier to swap everything over.
When swapping a car like that, you need to keep quite a few extra parts, or else replicate their function -- or at least their messages -- with something else. Search the forum for 'leaf swap' and you should get some idea of what's involved.

Finding room for the batteries might be a hassle - I hope you aren't planning to keep all the seats and all the trunk space.

Your budget should be totally fine, especially if you reuse as many OEM parts from the EV as possible. I've seen Leaves around here (California) in good shape for 6K, and Fiats about the same or less.

-Isaac
 

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The 500e seems like a good match as a donor, but the wheelbase match doesn't matter unless you plan to radically modify the Pao floor to fit the 500e battery pack in the way that Fiat does. Battery packaging seems like the biggest challenge.

The Pao is an interesting design that I like, and while I'm generally not a fan of either excessively lowered cars or tires sticking out the sides, the Pao works with this style. It has similar front fender flares even in stock form. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
That's a really beautiful car! I like the mismatched headlights - a little 'two-sided' vibe there.

500e is a great starting point - just about exactly what you want in terms of power and range.
Nissan Leaf is similar of course, but it's more documented so it might be easier to swap everything over.
When swapping a car like that, you need to keep quite a few extra parts, or else replicate their function -- or at least their messages -- with something else. Search the forum for 'leaf swap' and you should get some idea of what's involved.

Finding room for the batteries might be a hassle - I hope you aren't planning to keep all the seats and all the trunk space.

Your budget should be totally fine, especially if you reuse as many OEM parts from the EV as possible. I've seen Leaves around here (California) in good shape for 6K, and Fiats about the same or less.

-Isaac
Thanks I appreciate it. The car has been a definite process, and I've got a bunch more plans for it, so this is not the end!

I'm starting to read more into some of the Leaf swaps, it seems like most people don't take the powertrain from the Leaf is that correct?

Yeah I'm planning to take out the back seats, there's a surprising amount of room back there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The 500e seems like a good match as a donor, but the wheelbase match doesn't matter unless you plan to radically modify the Pao floor to fit the 500e battery pack in the way that Fiat does. Battery packaging seems like the biggest challenge.

The Pao is an interesting design that I like, and while I'm generally not a fan of either excessively lowered cars or tires sticking out the sides, the Pao works with this style. :)
Right, I think the wheelbase was just a consideration when thinking about the front subframe size and the suspension from the 500e
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The 500e seems like a good match as a donor, but the wheelbase match doesn't matter unless you plan to radically modify the Pao floor to fit the 500e battery pack in the way that Fiat does. Battery packaging seems like the biggest challenge.

The Pao is an interesting design that I like, and while I'm generally not a fan of either excessively lowered cars or tires sticking out the sides, the Pao works with this style. It has similar front fender flares even in stock form. :)
As I've lurked through the forums I've seen you giving very sound advice all over the place. As I am a complete novice I'm wondering if there's any advice you'd give with either the 500e application or the Leaf application that would increase the acceleration? Or should I be looking for other potentially AC solutions. I think a Small Tesla Front Drive Unit may be overkill, but I do wonder if there's anything in between the two that would save me the headache of the transmission, and also give some more acceleration/power?
 

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Nobody says you need to go full current to the SDU...

You can always trade top speed for acceleration.

A transmission could be less headache (make a motor mount plate & coupler, done) and it gives you the choice of acceleration or speed. Takes up space, maybe, is added weight.

Don't forget that Teslas have open diffs and use individual brakes for torque vectoring, so keeping a limited slip factory diff may make for a quicker car for much lower effort and cost...

Those are cute and you did yours very nicely. I can't help but look at that thing, with all that nicely flat glass, and want to chop the roof down 75mm or so 🤓
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Nobody says you need to go full current to the SDU...

You can always trade top speed for acceleration.

A transmission could be less headache (make a motor mount plate & coupler, done) and it gives you the choice of acceleration or speed. Takes up space, maybe, is added weight.

Don't forget that Teslas have open diffs and use individual brakes for torque vectoring, so keeping a limited slip factory diff may make for a quicker car for much lower effort and cost...

Those are cute and you did yours very nicely. I can't help but look at that thing, with all that nicely flat glass, and want to chop the roof down 75mm or so 🤓
As a hypothetical, if I were to use a small front Tesla Drive unit, with a controller from 057, what’s the minimum amount of battery modules for the minimum voltage to run the drive unit?

Also what are all the components needed to run a Tesla drive unit? It would fit in the engine bay just fine.
Starting to seem like a fun idea.
I just need to know what all I’d have to get to make it work.
 

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One issue is that 057 will charge you 7 grand for a small Tesla unit - there goes half of your budget.
The unit needs a controller and power, that's about it. Feed it whatever you want - 057 says 240 to 404 volts will work. For lower power, 300 or even 250 volts is totally fine.

But if you want lower cost, look at something a little different - if you want to keep it simple, a Leaf motor and drivetrain with a $500 controller, or a Tesla small drive unit with a $400 cust
 
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