Conversion to elect...
 
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Conversion to electric

NottaMiata
(@nottamiata)
Honorable Member

Someday, sadly, my 1ZZ will not be able to go anymore.  It's inevitable.  I do not live in fear, but do not bury my head in the sand.  This thread is being started not necessarily as an end-all be-all, but a broad overview of the components in an electric vehicle and what it would take to convert a Spyder into a Tespyder or Priuspyder.  Or... something.

There was a crate engine, er, motor, post a while back, and that was interesting.  But that assumes the reader knows stuff.  I don't know stuff.  So this is being started as a way for  those more-knowledgeable to simply dump out a broad overview, provide some topics that can be further researched, and so forth.  For example, is the idea so absurd on the surface as to be a non-starter?  How many ECUs does the Spyder actually have, and if there is more than just the engine controller, will the rest of them all get upset if some weirdo from 2020 shows up on the network speaking some hoity-toity, fancy-ass CAN dialect?

Also, since I am a thread-drifter from way back, I of course don't mind if we take a side road to throw rotten veggies at me for even suggesting such a bastardization of this perfect car, but I remind you, it IS a 1ZZ... the day WILL come...  By then, even a 2AR swap might not be a terribly attractive option.  I have this initial impression that an electric motor would be "easier".  I'm new, be gentle...

And Holy Jeebs, I have gotten absolutely SMOKED by a Tesla Model 3 in the past.  I wasn't even trying, but he probably wasn't either, ha!  I want that zip though, with this handling!

Again, a broad overview to help a beginning searcher start the Hoogling would be awesome, or just an interesting discussion and knowledge dump.  Whatever.  Electronics are even more mysterious than mechanicals to me.  But, stuff like weight distribution, battery space, and those considerations would make an interesting discussion, I think.  I know there are quite a few electronics experts here, but I'm not gonna make anyone blush by naming names, and I would probably miss a few too.

🐸, 2003, Electric Green Mica, (still !) not enough mods...

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Topic starter Posted : April 30, 2020 6:07 pm
Mscholten
(@mscholten)
Eminent Member

We had a Nissan Leaf, and I considered finding a salvage one and doing a swap, but you would need to transplant the entire car- brakes, everything, to get it to work. The crate motor options right now are really expensive- 15k+. It would be sweet though.

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Posted : May 1, 2020 9:03 am
Patrick Lipp
(@pattielipp)
Guy with car Admin

In my opinion it would ruin the dynamic of the car. I would just look into other 4cylinder swaps. There's enough options out there to make anything possible.

 

www.patricklipp.com
www.mytechliving.com

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Posted : May 1, 2020 9:41 am
dev
 dev
(@dev)
Just a member. Moderator
Posted by: @mscholten

We had a Nissan Leaf, and I considered finding a salvage one and doing a swap, but you would need to transplant the entire car- brakes, everything, to get it to work. The crate motor options right now are really expensive- 15k+. It would be sweet though.

The Nissan Leaf and a few other electric cars seems to be building all in one units with the transmissions that resembling four cylinder long blocks. I think this could actually work but the electronics would be a nightmare using the Nissan computer because it will probably have too many unnecessary sensors and safety conditions including regenerative braking that you would probably have to design a new brain for the enthusiast.  This would probably come to light with some adventurous people willing to build a solid piece of engineering.  I was considering this idea ten years ago and thought by now they would have all sorts of conversion kits but that never came to pass and the promised of newer battery technology from Panasonic didn't either. We only have incremental improvements not game changers.  

I see a world where gasoline engine tech shares the same roads with electric and hybrids for the next 15 years or more. I also see a world where institutions like schools, offices and shopping malls going extinct cutting down on the production of cars and the first to go is budgeted performance cars. 

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Posted : May 1, 2020 10:08 am
NottaMiata
(@nottamiata)
Honorable Member

@dev,

Not THIS car, though! I already have one. Yeah, even my limited exposure to HD vehicle systems drove me to be cautious about sensors. The new ECU will throw 278 faults for "OMG, all my sensors are gone!"

@pattielipp,

Could you elaborate a bit on "ruin the dynamics?" I think losing the shifter would definitely degrade the fun factor, but I wonder if the sub-4-second 0to60 would make up for it...

Are you also talking about weight/mass dynamics and handling?

 

I guess I need to baby this 1ZZ or start thinking about that 2AR some more. Not sure I even want to consider a different mfr like Honda (no offense) cuz it feels disloyal to Mr. T.  That is probably not a super-smart attitude.

There is a guy here at work with a stripped down civic and an old Honda engine (before K20, I forget what he told me, B-something?) that makes just over 300HP. That's fun, but its a rattle-trap old 90s thing, bare interior, ecu and piggyback board just hanging under the dash. Single-purpose car, but the butt-dyno was impressive (to me) when the boost kicked in. That little sucker goes enough to make me nervous.

That would be enough, but electric just seems kool too. Just a battery and a motor and a simple controller, that's all I want. Dont need no stinking, heavy regen brakes and lag and all the rest. Go, and Stop. And let me plug it into a 120 household plug. Is this too much to ask? Too simplistic?

 

🐸, 2003, Electric Green Mica, (still !) not enough mods...

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Topic starter Posted : May 1, 2020 10:42 am
dev
 dev
(@dev)
Just a member. Moderator

Have you considered just getting another 1ZZ and then turbo it with the turbokits.com kit made for the Spyder. It is a well researched and reliable. It will give you everything you want and you can do it yourself with the least amount of down time. Also you can easily service the thing and have plenty of support from the company. Doing other swaps are a nice proposition of course but this is just easy to live with for the most part and completely reversible. Once you start modifying there are far more things to go wrong and for your expectations when they do you might not like that very much. 

 

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Posted : May 1, 2020 2:36 pm
Erdoc48
(@erdoc48)
Estimable Member

One very important thing to consider is that once a car is converted to electric (and not designed from the ground up that way) is that charging on the road may present itself as a problem (so no level 2 charging or supercharger use). In that event, you’re then limited to whatever range you can get to and from your home (unless you want to plug in at your destination and wait a probable very long time to recharge for the trip home). If it’s going to be a short distance fun car, then it’s fine, but it is important to know. I do agree that with the weight of batteries in a car not originally designed to carry them, it will likely affect the handling of the Spyder and then it may not be the fun, tossable car it once was. Lastly, the cost may be quite prohibitive. I was watching a CNET video on YouTube regarding an electric Factory Five roadster and in that case, by the time you’re done, it’s greater than $30K invested and you have to put it together. Maybe it’s a fun project but is expensive. Given the small size of a Spyder, limited range, heaviness of the batteries, and other limitations, I’d also opt for a replacement engine if I needed one.

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Posted : May 2, 2020 5:56 am
dev liked
FormInFunction
(@forminfunction)
Eminent Member

I agree with ruining the driving dynamics, to achieve more than 50 - 100 miles of range the weight and subsequent distribution of the weight of batteries would be prohibitive. Its definitely doable, almost anything is doable with enough money. But even if I won the lottery I would rather burn my money than ruin my car 🙃 

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Posted : May 2, 2020 11:17 pm
NottaMiata
(@nottamiata)
Honorable Member

 

 

Reserved 

I wasted a couple of my bleary coffee hours googling and digging up a few things about the various weights of the 1ZZ, gas and gas tank, exhaust, etc.  All the obvious things that would go away when the gas engine did.  I didn't dig extra hard, just wanting a ballpark figure for the sake of discussion.

Then I got the numbers for the Leaf, and one component from a Tesla because that was "the best I could do" (in the time allotted).  I probably missed a lot of things, on both platforms, but this is bleary armchair newb noodling.

Then, technical difficulties happened to the post.  Is probably for the best, there should be less bombast in this re-post. Maybe.

 

IIRC:

The gasoline engine and supporting infrastructure came out to ~575 lbs, but I think I missed some significant weight on the exhaust components, so there could be another 50 lbs there, perhaps.

The Leaf components (motor, batteries, transaxle, charging components which maybe could be offloaded) came out to about 925 lbs.  The difference was roughly 350 lbs.  A good ~650 lbs of this pork is battery weight, which I expect to continue to fall as the 1ZZ ages out.  But that's optimism; it is a realistic assumption, but not current data.

 

My thoughts are that this 350 lbs is the weight of a rather "robust" adult passenger.  The Frog feels a 175 lb adult passenger, but by no means does it destroy all the fun, it only makes a small dent in it with my stock Spyder.  I'd rather not have that, of course, but I think that a good portion of the difference could be mitigated quite a bit by shifting the weight of the components downward and lowering the CoG. And, if the power-to-weight ratio improves, we are on the winning side unless it handles like, say, an American "sports" car.  I have doubts.  Highly UN-educated ones.

 

I am using the Leaf battery weight only as an example, but I do know that these things come in cells, and those could be rearranged into more favorable shapes to distribute the weight, perhaps even more favorably than the current platform.  It would help if I or someone I know had welding skills...  As far as GoG goes, all of the very few straight-4 engines I have seen, and others too, are very tall.  Not good.  So I would wager that the electric stuff could be made to sit a lot lower and closer to the center.  I did not get as far as the space consumption, but the void where the gas tank is would be my first candidate for at least a big chunk of the batteries.  I'd want a few to laterally balance out the motor.  If you got really cute, you could even tweak for the driver's weight and position.  I took money off the table, remember?

 

Do the EVs have ECUs mostly for the fancy regenerative braking, or is it more about preventing the batteries from turning into toxic firebombs?  The simplicity of the overall system is very appealing.  Although the shifter is a big part of the Spyder experience, I think I could get used to having both hands on the wheel while absolutely flying into and out of corners.  My lingering question is what kind of zoom would a leaf motor give a Spyder?  If it can get to 60 in under 5.0, that would be a blast.  I am not asking much, and 6.0 is still better than a stock 1ZZ.  How much accel is too much for this car?

 

And why have a massive motor?  It puts weight out to the sides, but what about 4 motors at the wheels?  Does that say "software" again?  I don't like that complexity, but it's just a discussion. Motor, batteries, variable-juice pedal.  That's all I need.

 

This post was modified 2 years ago 3 times by NottaMiata

🐸, 2003, Electric Green Mica, (still !) not enough mods...

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Topic starter Posted : May 3, 2020 6:52 am
dev liked
dev
 dev
(@dev)
Just a member. Moderator

Its not like it hasn't been done. 

https

 

All of the cool stuff for this car was made over a decade ago by some talented people that are now long gone. Its not to say we don't have a new swap options but thats about it. 

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Posted : May 3, 2020 8:48 am
NottaMiata
(@nottamiata)
Honorable Member

@dev,

 

Yeah, I think that would be enough for me.

🐸, 2003, Electric Green Mica, (still !) not enough mods...

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Topic starter Posted : May 5, 2020 6:43 am
dev liked
Mscholten
(@mscholten)
Eminent Member

@nottamiata the Leaf is quick 0-30, but not 30-60. Rear wheel drive might help with the traction, as it was easy to spin the front wheels if you weren’t careful.

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Posted : May 5, 2020 8:28 am
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