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2016 Ford Escape SE (2.0L Ecoboost, FWD)
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, I'm pretty new to this forum but have read thru several build threads and some wiki info and there is a TON of useful info on here! I am in the latter stages of building a Factory Five Cobra replica that I was entertaining the thought of converting from ICE to a Tesla rear drive unit, but I have decided I am too far into the build and while it is still possible, it would require more than I am willing to invest into a nearly completed car that will have plenty of performance as is.

However, this thread is about my crazy idea of converting my daily driver 2016 Ford Escape SEL (2.0L Ecoboost, FWD) into a PHEV. I know its not a full EV conversion, so hopefully I am not going to get flamed for this. In my research for possibly converting my Cobra, I watched a video by the AM Racing guys about their Remy motor (which I was also considering as a possibility rather than the Telsa rear drive unit), and they mentioned using one of their smaller motors that is capable of up to 73HP as a direct drive setup to each wheel of a vehicle. While that could make for a fun EV, 4 separate motors sounds like a lot of software requirements and that is not my area of expertise. However, adding 2 of those motors to drive the rear wheels of a FWD vehicle sounds like a much more doable option and would provide quite a performance boost as well as improving the fuel economy of the ICE engine. By keeping the ICE setup, it allows me to retain all of the creature comforts without having to rewire and reconfigure the entire vehicle. Plus, that little Ecoboost makes a ton of power and the car is a blast to drive. Adding electric drive to the rear wheels along with over peak 140HP sounds even better!

Since Ford makes a 2016 Escape in an AWD configuration, I hope this will make the conversion much easier. My thought was to source a complete rear suspension for the AWD vehicle and graft the electric motors into the center housing where the rear diff would go. I would need some custom half shafts/axles to link the motors to the rear hubs, but that seems to be much easier than fabricating an entire rear suspension setup. Obviously the rest of the EV components would need to be added in, and I'd need a way to tie into the existing throttle pedal. I have no clue how things like traction control would function when suddenly the computer sees the "unpowered" rear wheels spinning forward during an all electric burnout, but going this route I should be able to keep my ABS happy. I'm thinking about putting a small battery pack into the cargo area, or even under the rear seats if I can fit something there. Obviously I won't need a ton of electric only range since I won't be using it in an electric only mode, plus regen braking will be available to recharge the batteries during normal driving. Also, the motors are only 48-120 volts. As long as getting 2 different motor controllers to play well together isn't a bridge too far, then this should be a great way to go a little greener while making the car way more fun to drive.

I am looking at the ME1616 brushless 20kW-55kW liquid-cooled IPM motor that works from 48-120 volts. Its available on electricmotorsport.com for $1,099 each. I'm trying to figure out what controller would work best, especially knowing I have to sync 2 of these together. Also I am looking for some guidance on how to do the rest of the high voltage stuff. I don't need a DC to DC converter since I am still using the ICE wiring. I would need the batteries and a charger that supports the regen braking as well as Level 2 home charging (preferrably both 120V and 240V options.) Would I need a BMS for this? I feel like I should, but that's why I'm here asking the questions. I will need to tie into the shifter to make sure the electric motors aren't trying to go forward when the car is in reverse, so I'll have to figure out how to get that to the controllers. I have a 4-inch dash display that is not being used that I could put up some electric system information on if I can figure out how to hack into it. Otherwise a small free standing LCD setup on the dash would be sufficient.

I am also wondering if I could use both output shafts of a NetGain HyPer9 to drive the rear wheels off of a single motor. That would simplify the controller setup by only needing one, but then I'd basically have a welded rear differential since both tires would always spin the same speed. This is something that could be an issue with the dual-motor setup, but hopefully less of a factor.

I know this was a long post, but please chime in with anything you guys can think of that I'm missing. From drivetrain considerations to electrical issues I may run into. I really want to do this and I have the resources to pull it off, so please help me out!

Cheers,
Shack
 

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There are many challenges in any EV or hybrid design, and especially in a hybrid. It looks like many have been considered, but some have not.

Locking the wheel speeds together certainly would not be acceptable for street use.

With either of the motor options discussed, driving the axles without reduction gearing would provide very poor performance, because the motor would never turn fast enough to produce anything close to the motor's peak power. That's why motors are used with reduction gearing, to multiply the torque as much as possible without exceeding the motor's allowed speed at the vehicle's top speed.

Separate left and right motors are certainly manageable. They have been in production for years in some hybrids, and are now appearing in some EVs (particularly in the rear).
 

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2016 Ford Escape SE (2.0L Ecoboost, FWD)
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The gearing will definitely be an issue for direct drive - I hadn't fully considered that aspect of it. Over the last few days I researched in-wheel hub motors and those have incredible promise for exactly what I am trying to accomplish. However, two of the best options are only working with big businesses on new vehicle platforms (Elaphe and Proteon), so that appears to be a dead end. The other is Orbis Ring Wheels which seems like they are open to the aftermarket/conversion world based on their demonstrator vehicle, so I'm waiting to hear back from them to see if that is an option. It looks like a great option and they supposedly can be plug and play compatible!

In the meantime, is there an "off the shelf" reduction gearset that could be fabricated into a front motor mount to handle that torque multiplication? I considered using the read diff from an AWD Escape and powering it via a traditional electric motor, but that would cut down on the total power and I'm not sure if there is enough room in the trans tunnel for that type of setup. Not to mention the added weight...

How would a traditional controller handle runnning the motor in a hybrid-type setup? Obviously the battery would ultimately be depleated over and over, so ensuring a min state of charge is maintained to avoid battery damage is important. What happens to the motor when the controller can't provide electrical power due to low battery SOC? Will an unpowered electrical motor be excessive drag on the gas engine? Will that drag allow the battery to charge via regen? I will confess, the controller side of things is an area where I still need to learn a lot.

Thanks!
Shack
 
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