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The First Tesla With A Clutch Pedal

In a previous piece here on EV Obsession, I went into detail about Rich Rebuilds’ V8 Tesla swap. While not the kind of thing that would get cleantech fans excited, Rich’s project shows just how different Teslas are from a gas car, and how innovative Tesla is.

After figuring out roughly where the V8 would go, Rich started looking at getting the transmission installed, and once again, the Camaro the engine came from couldn’t be any more different from the Tesla.

Putting a clutch pedal wasn’t that big of a deal. Under the dash, there was plenty of space to mount it, as Teslas tend to be quite roomy. The shifter won’t be a huge deal either, as it connects to the transmission via cables to do the actual shifting. It will have to go further back than it did in the Camaro, mostly because the Tesla’s big screen (MCU) gets in the way.

Other systems are going to be a bigger problem. The stock Tesla HVAC system is behind the MCU and goes right where the transmission needs to go. Also, several computer modules will need to be put elsewhere, along with their wiring. To move all of this around, they’re going to need to reroute heating and cooling ducts to the back as well, because those ducts go right where the transmission tunnel belongs post-conversion.

When some people saw all this, they suggested that Rich install a front wheel drive drivetrain and an automatic transmission. On one hand, that certainly would save a lot of work, because the engine and transmission would all go up under the hood, and there wouldn’t need to be a transmission tunnel or any of the other problems that they’re running into here. In other words, doing that would leave the Tesla’s interior largely intact.

When asked about this, Rich jokingly said, “We don’t talk to those people.”

And he’s right to feel that way. While it would be easier to do that, front wheel drive cars are awful. They don’t feel nearly as good to drive, they lose traction a lot easier, and you can’t do fun things like donuts or drifting. Tesla doesn’t offer any front-drive cars, and with the switch to electric, nobody else making a serious effort is doing front-drive either. The only reason auto manufacturers did any front-wheel cars was to save money.

Nobody would want to put in the effort it would take to swap a gas engine into a Tesla and do something stupid like make it front-drive. People actually suggesting that (and not jokingly) aren’t someone you want to associate with, either. You obviously can’t trust their judgement.

Another interesting thing: they plan on keeping as much of the Tesla’s electronics as possible, and that’s going to be a huge challenge. The Tesla electronics are going to throw a LOT of errors, and they won’t know how to talk to the GM engine electronics. Things like the speedometer won’t work, and they’re going to need to somehow get the dash to display a tachometer (RPMs). The Tesla parts won’t know what any of the ICE stuff means.

To get everything wired up and working, they’re going to need to make sure power is getting supplied to everything that needs power, and make sure what’s left behind doesn’t miss the computers that are missing, while also talking to the new computers as much as possible. That way, things will all work, and work together.

The biggest source of wiring headaches will be the relocation of the control modules from the middle of the car to elsewhere. They might be able to use the original wiring and custom build an adapter harness, or they could build new wiring harnesses to pass all the power and electronic messaging from the MCU to the remaining Tesla systems in the car, and to make any integrations with the guest GM systems.

As more of these videos come out, it’s going to be increasingly clear that a Tesla isn’t just a converted gas car. It was built from the ground up to run on electric, and can’t simply be changed back. Plus, it’s just going to be funny to see the resulting car!

 
Written By

Jennifer Sensiba Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to explore the Southwest US with her partner, kids, and animals. Follow her on Twitter for her latest articles and other random things: https://twitter.com/JenniferSensiba Do you think I've been helpful in your understanding of Tesla, clean energy, etc? Feel free to use my Tesla referral code to get yourself (and me) some small perks and discounts on their cars and solar products. https://www.tesla.com/referral/jennifer90562

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