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620 electric conversion

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Hope this post is appropriate for the section.


I'm going for a bachelor's in renewable energy engineering and wanted to propose an electric conversion for my '79 620 for my senior project. I've seen a couple older truck conversion done around the internet but wanted to see if there was any Datsun specific information any of you my have to contribute.


I know this thread could get a little off topic in respects to Datsun components as the Nissan leaf is the only Nissan electric car out there, but I've been playing around with the idea of a Tesla model 3 small rear electric drive unit or an electric swap for the L20B, that is currently in it, and bolting it to the 5 speed transmission.


I'm not going for super high performance drift action, but wanted to do more than just a backyard lead acid battery set up. With future plans of doing a custom interior I was also curious if there was any members from the Portland area that might also have access to 3D scanning equipment?

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My uncle did a conversion on a 80's Toyota over ten years ago and it turned out great, mated a forklift motor to the trans and had the battery array in the bed. There wasn't much need for 1st or 2'nd gear 😉 and it didn't have more than a 50 mile range but this was 10 years ago. With modern batteries, frequency drives and programming it shouldn't be that hard to get a nice little truck that can scoot!

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Regarding 3d modeling, what level of detail do you need?  Photogrammerty can be done with a halfway decent cell phone and can produce some pretty decent results if all you need is sizes of stuff, not super fine level details.


Pay attention the wheel mounting surface measurement (WMS) for the Tesla.  I don't know how wide those are compared to the stock rear end, and that may speak to its reasonable use or what type of rim offset you will need to run.  Additionally, consider that you will want to change your front hubs in some fashion because the Tesla would be running a different lug pattern from your stock 6 lug.


I've seen multiple conversions to cars bolting a motor to a transmission, so it can be done that way for sure.  I think like Logical mentioned, most people only use a couple of the gears from that point on, plus reverse if you don't set the motor up to do that itself.


Not a whole lot here for EV conversions, though there is some discussion on the topic here and there.  If you move forward, do a build thread/build diary here.  That way the next guy in your shoes has a good reference to work from when he decides to dive in.

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Google Datsun 1200 White Zombie.  That car was built YEARS AGO, but was also a very successful drag car, spanking many other conventional fossil fuel cars!  I'm sure there are quite a few EV swaps out there, in all sorts of vehicles, documented online.  The way I see just about any powertrain swap, is you can use pretty much ANY existing vehicle, in your case a 620, & just apply the "mechanics" of adapting EV & of course, the longevity of a properly built conversion.  LOTS of fab work involved, no matter what you decide to do!  Good luck with the project! 😎  

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks for the input so far. I have been doing a little more digging into components and set-ups this summer and I'm between a couple options right now.


The easiest I think might be "bolting" an electric motor to the drive shaft, where the L20b and transmission sit currently, and running the rear diff as is, converting the suspension to coil overs (hopefully I can find or convince Beebani to make another kit), adding some batteries between the frame and drive shaft under the bed and the rest of the components in the engine bay. I found a manufacture locally that is actually pretty well known for EV conversions and has partnered with AEMev to develop a fair amount of solutions for the whole project.


The second is utilizing the rear small drive unit from a Tesla model 3. This would allow me to maintain it's original suspension (might have to make the truck a little wider but that's what wide bodies are for right?), figure out front hubs to match and allow me to update the front suspension at the same time. This would give me more room in the front for batteries and electronics under the front end of the bed. I wouldn't be entirely opposed to modifying the frame to make everything tuck up underneath better, but I have also been playing around with the idea of making the conversion more of a kit that could be sold like the EV West kits eventually depending on how it all turns out.


I'll be sure to document everything as much as I can because I will have to for my senior project for my school. So lets hope for the best finding supporters for acquiring most of the really expensive components:


Motor: Tesla rear small drive unit or Cascadia Motion SS-250-115S or iDM-190 (integrated Module)

Torque box: Torque Trends ev-torquebox

Batteries: Tesla modules or Cascadia Motion SV 'Mini' battery module (CM-14s8p) w/ BMS

Battery management system (BMS)

Charge controllers, DC/DC Converter: Cascadia Motion Combo Unit

VCU: AEMev VCU-200

Inverter: Tesla or Cascadia Motion CM200DX or PM150DX

Cooling system

Brakes: Wilwood, 300zx, D21, Silverminemotors

Front suspension: Beebani??? or Honda Civic Type-R Front suspension (5x120 pattern)

Rear suspension: Beebani (if using rear diff/drive shaft), Mazda Miata rear suspension, Tesla rear subassembly, Honda S2000?

Frame work: If a new frame has to be fabricated to accommodate the Tesla rear SDU/suspension

Body work: Hakotora conversion (Panch kits)

Interior: Custom 3D printed dash, seats, carpet (leftcoastdatsun), heat/AC (BorgWarner high voltage heater), center console (touchscreen infotainment, tablet)


As most of you can already assume most of these parts can and will be expensive. I will go ahead and throw it out there, if anyone would like to help or know someone that might be willing to help an aspiring college student source and afford any or all of these parts, I implore you to please contact me ASAP as my ideal time frame is from October 2021 to June 2022 to complete this project, if I plan to have a working (bare minimum) prototype by the deadline. I would definitely consider partnerships in future endeavors with bringing a kit or at least instructions/plans to market.


BTW if there is a mod that can add this post and a slot or two to the top of this thread for future posts that would be cool!

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  • 2 months later...

I have gotten the green light on the project to an extent. After further discussion, I ended up working on my own so I had to reduce the scope of the project. I am now designing a rear conversion to house just the motor at this time. I will finish the rest of the project on my own time after I complete the rear motor mount conversion (possibly an IRS bolt-in subframe). I have started to look around as to what set-ups I should explore more.


I have already considered the Tesla rear subframe and large rear drive unit to find a way to bolt it in but it might be far to wide to work out. There is still a possibility of the small drive unit being a better option as it is... smaller of course.


I will also be exploring the possibility of using a Cascadia Motion drive motor (single or double) and designing a subframe to house that and convert the rear suspension to IRS, this will most likely have several iterations before it will ever be ready for final use but allows for a better form factor to be achieved.


Lastly is an form that I have heard of but I don't think has hit the market yet. It is a conversion that pretty much bolts an electric motor to the rear diff of a solid axle. this would allow for the original leaf suspension to be used (or the 4x4 720) and require even less modification, besides you know converting the rest of the system to electric (battery packs, converters, etc.). The one that I have seen in this form factor looked to be targeted towards full-sized trucks so maybe this would be able to used on more smaller import models.


If anyone could help out with possible subframe recommendations that would possible fit the 620 track width that would be great help, as I have limited space to amass a collection of bulky donor parts (240sx, 350z, and Miata are the ones I have looked into already). 



On 8/19/2021 at 9:28 AM, Icehouse said:

I got some stuff I would donate.  

I PMed you and you have my number for future communication


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  • 3 weeks later...

I am currently trying to do some designing for the conversion but I am unable to start disassembling my truck as I am still moving it to a new location to be worked on. Does anyone happen to have frame dimensions for a '79 Regular cab short bed frame (rough dimensions are find at this point)? Measurements from the bottom of the frame to the underside of the cab and bed, inside width of the frame, and longitudenal lengths between any main support bulkheads would be greatly appreciated.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just found this thread.  


Shortmorris my BIL is building a 260z here in AUS.  Already has the tesla motor mounted in the rear sorted the suspension and is organsing the battery box/control etc upfront.


He has been working on cracking the tesla electrics a little as well for things like heating etc


There is also in Aus a VW BUG and an old cortina, they used 100kw ish motors up front, this way you keep the tranny, and driveshaft etc  Yes I know not needed but generally easy conversion, batterys can go in the bed, and you can swap the electric out later and put a fossil burner back in.



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