The problem with the Tesla powertrain is that it's in a Tesla car.
Electric vehicles have been around since the start of the motor car, but they were soon surpassed in sales and use by the internal combustion engine. Unfortunately, the problem we gained from the ubiquity of internal combustion engines is pollution. Recently, companies started working on bringing the all-electric drivetrain back in the name of reducing emissions. At the tip of the spear was Tesla, and its first mainstream car was the Model S. That went into production in 2012, meaning that there's now plenty out there both on the used market and that have been written off in crashes. As a result, electrification companies and tuners have been taking advantage of those powertrains being available to swap into cars that were never intended to be electrified. These are some of our favorites so far.
If you want to irritate the Porsche hardcore, take the flat-six engine out of a classic 911 and replace it with something different. In this case, it's a Tesla system with the conversion carried out by EV West. The new powertrain makes 563 horsepower being produced at the wheels, nearly three times the original power of the 1977 Porsche 911 model. Power response is as immediate as the delivery of torque, and the Porsche hardcore can relax a little as the swap didn't require any modifications to the car's body or chassis. EV West has even taken advantage of the factory mounting holes in the engine bay to avoid adding any more.
Honda's S2000 roadster wasn't designed to take the crazy instant torque from an electric drivetrain. To convert an S2000 into an EV, the first thing the Quebec, Canada, based EV dealership Vehicules Electriques and its partners in crime had to do was strengthen the chassis. The motor is straight from a Tesla P100D while the energy is stored in two smaller Chevy Volt battery packs. The ModelS2000 now has 636 hp and hits 60 mph in 2.39 seconds while sprinting down the quarter-mile in 10.24 seconds.
It would take a certifiable madman to put a 414 kW Tesla Model S P85 motor into a 1981 Honda Accord. Jim Belosic is that madman, and now the little economy car makes around 535 hp and hits 60 mph in 2.7 seconds. The battery pack sitting in the engine bay comes from a scrapped Chevrolet Volt and is matched to a Tesla inverter. The reason it sits high like an old-school gasser car is that the equipment needed to keep the drive system down to 1,200 amps and 400 volts wouldn't fit neatly in the little Accord.
LS swapping an E30 generation BMW 3 Series is about one of the coolest things you can do. It's a great way to give the lightweight and responsive chassis the dose of power it needs, and something Jon Volk had previously done. Volk wanted to take things in a more unconventional direction, though. He went on a massive learning curve to figure out how to cram a 32-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, Tesla charging system, Tesla motor, and an inverter from a Chevrolet Volt in the Tesla and make it work seamlessly. It was a massive project, and, like swapping an LS V8 into a car, it's not as easy as just bolting stuff in and taking off in a cloud of tire smoke.
Jonathon Ward's restomod company is more well known for its exquisitely hand-built Ford Bronco and Toyota FJ models. However, Icon is happy to delve into other projects, including this Tesla-powered 1949 Mercury Coupe. Underneath is an Art Morrison 4-wheel-independent chassis, while Stealth EV came in to fit a dual electric motor system, including a CHAdeMO 125A fast-charger plug and Tesla supercharging plug. The body was stripped down and rebuilt with all new seals and sound deadening, but it looks like nothing has been touched in decades.
One of the most common complaints about electric vehicles is that they lack character and soul. That's probably part of the reason why so many electric conversions are classic cars, the other being that they tend to be lightweight and less complicated than other cars to re-engineer. Zetec is all about retaining the design legacy of the cars it converts, and never cuts or welds its classic cars. Inside the little Beetle is a 102-hp electric motor, but the original Beetle weighs very little and now has instant torque. That means a Zelectric Beetle is a cute little sleeper. Customers can also opt to keep the original Volkswagen stock transmission, although, with the instant torque available, it doesn't care what gear you pull away in.
Strap in, because this is what happens when you cross a Kia Soul EV, a Tesla Model S P85D, and a tube framed Shelby Cobra race car. It's not actually a swap because the whole car has been designed from the ground up, but it thoroughly deserves a mention. The motor is from the Tesla donor car, but Epower Racing chose the Kia Soul EV's battery packs as testing has shown them to be one of the few OEM battery packs capable of sustaining 300 kW of output for a considerable length of time. The Kia packs are also light, weighing just 400 pounds, and in total, the 400 hp racing machine weighs only 1,800 lbs.
Back in 2017, Electric Classic Cars kicked up a storm by showing the world its EV converted Porsche 911 Targa. A statistically high number of 911s have been EV converted now, but this one still has a place in our heart as it wasn't built to be a tire smoker, but a daily driving classic with a 200-mile range. Its 130 hp and 213 lb-ft of torque dual-motor setup will hit 60 mph in under six seconds, though, and that's not slow at all. It also retains the manual transmission for when the driver wants to get involved.
The very first Tesla car was the Roadster back in 2008, based on the Lotus Elise. Skip forward to 2016, and a motorsport electronics guy named Sasha Anis decided the Evora would be the perfect car to kit out with a modern Tesla drivetrain. He wasn't wrong, and when he entered the car into the road-legal Superstreet rear-wheel-drive class of a Canadian Sport Compact Series Time Attack contest, he took first place. It wasn't all down to the car, though, and, if you check out the video below, you can see Anis is a bit of an animal behind the wheel.