nader
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Leaf Number: 1925
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Motor upgrades

Tue Sep 20, 2011 8:46 am

Can someone educate me about the possibilities of a motor upgrade in the future? I know Nissan is making their own motor so it's unlikely that some aftermarket motor will just bolt right up. Aside from fitment issues what are some of the limitations of the existing setup? Is it as simple as swapping in a higher KW motor and reprogramming the controller? I recall hearing something about pack voltage being a limiting factor for increasing power output. Please educate me.

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TRONZ
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Re: Motor upgrades

Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:09 am

I think most people are going to ride out the warranty period before going anywhere near drivetrain mods. I am sure engine mods will happen but only after people have a good feel for pack durability. It's not like ordering a crate motor. This is pretty new and unprecedented stuff... with faster EV's on the way.
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Herm
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Re: Motor upgrades

Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:34 am

Its an electric car, everything works as a system.. if the battery cant provide the power then a bigger motor will do you no good.

But motors/inverters/batteries can be overdriven easily, just a matter of programming. You could double the power for a few seconds and smoke those front tires.

nader
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Re: Motor upgrades

Tue Sep 20, 2011 4:31 pm

So I view the battery as a gas tank. If I have a higher power motor the tank runs dry quicker. I also understand that a given gauge wire can only delivery so much amperage, just like a fuel line can only deliver so much volume at a given pressure. So what goes into upgrading the motor? What other components would have to be upgraded?

TEG
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Re: Motor upgrades

Tue Sep 20, 2011 4:50 pm

Assuming that the battery pack can handle higher discharge, I think the upgrades would start with:
#1: More / better IGBTs in the inverter ( = more cost ) to get higher current through.
#2: Better heat dissipation for inverter and motor.

Some of the heat removal methods could probably be done externally on the motor, but at some point they would have to make fundamental changes inside to handle higher current levels.

It is all "do-able". Just a matter of costs and time. Plus with more power you would need to start thinking about other upgrades in the vehicle - better brakes, stiffer suspension, stickier tires, etc...

The Leaf wasn't intended to be a performance car.

nader
Posts: 296
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:48 pm
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Leaf Number: 1925
Location: Fres-yes

Re: Motor upgrades

Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:02 pm

TEG wrote: The Leaf wasn't intended to be a performance car.
Mwah ha ha! Neither was a civic or a focus or neon but I've seen street and strip versions of both that are pretty impressive.

After a suspension upgrade the lack of power and inferior tires became immediately noticeable. Tires and brakes are pretty easy. Motor/controller/battery etc are a whole new world for me.

TEG
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Re: Motor upgrades

Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:32 pm

There are basically 0 performance mods for the Tesla Roadster and it has been out for a few years now, and certainly is a performance car where people would want to make it go quicker (if they could figure out how!)

The EV systems are complicated, proprietary and closed enough that performance mods haven't been happening.

With that said, I bet you could "chip" a Leaf and make it perform better if you knew how to read and recompile millions of lines of machine code. There are probably plenty of trade-offs where you could sacrifice things like battery life, and foul condition safety in exchange for more responsiveness. There might even been factory modes already hidden in there if only we knew the magic codes to unlock them.

smkettner
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Re: Motor upgrades

Tue Sep 20, 2011 6:36 pm

nader wrote:So what goes into upgrading the motor? What other components would have to be upgraded?
Everything
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mitch672
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Re: Motor upgrades

Tue Sep 20, 2011 6:47 pm

you might want to check out the "Zilla" motor controller from Rudman: http://www.manzanitamicro.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

or watch some of the videos from these guys, who have 90 minute "EV conversion webcasts", the shows are very interesting. They talk a lot about differrent motor controllers (making fun of the Zilla and Hairball in their latest video as well). This stuff is EXPENSIVE, for example, the motor controller he talks about is in the $3500 range, and liquid cooled, the lithium batteries they use run 20-25K per car, the motors run $3-5K, etc. this is not an inexpensive hobby, if you have to ask "how much is this gong to cost?" you probably don't want to know the answer.

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TEG
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Re: Motor upgrades

Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:17 pm

The Zilla controller is for DC motors, and the Leaf uses an AC motor, so it is somewhat apples to oranges.

If you want to build an EV drag race car ( < 10 sec quarter mile times are possible ) then a 2000amp Zilla plus giant DC motors can get the job done.

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