Hackaday Prize Entry: Tearing Down A Tesla

We’ve seen a few people tear down the drive trains from electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf, Prisuses, or the Chevy Volt. We’ve also seen someone tear down the battery pack found in a Tesla Model S. What we haven’t seen until now is a reverse engineering of the Tesla Model S drive train.

A fortuitous circumstance landed [Michal] the crown jewel of the Tesla Model S – the 310kW, 590Nm drive train. Exactly how and where [Michal] landed this gigantic powerful motor is a question that remains unanswered, and the question unasked. We might not want to know.

Now that he has a motor, the name of the game is figuring out how to drive it. Usually that means capturing data from the CAN bus and replaying that data. This isn’t what [Michal] is doing; instead, he’s using a motor controller he developed for the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius. It’s going to be a lot of work, but that’s only because these gigantic EV motors and controllers are pretty rare on the used market now. Give it a few years, and the work [Michal] is putting in now will pay off in hundreds of DIY electric vehicles.

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21 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Entry: Tearing Down A Tesla

  1. To me it does not sound much like a mystery:
    He bought the Tesla drive train in Germany, it is from a Mercedes B Class electric, and there is slight damage from a crash.

      1. Gasoline engines can withstand crashes. We don’t even know if this came from a wrecked car. However, depending on the circumstances, there are no guarantees that *anything* would be salvageable from an accident. As the other poster stated, vehicles are engineered to reduce injury and fatalities up to a certain speed of impact and orientation. Traveling at over 80mph and slamming into a mature oak tree, regardless of gasoline or electric motor, would kill the occupants and leave the vehicle unrecognizable. Most of these salvaged parts people acquire are from wrecked electric cars involved in accidents at under 20mph, usually rear end or side impact hits.

        1. Nicely said, mcnugget.
          My drivetrain is not from a crashed car. One of the arms got broken as it fell on the floor in the factory.

          Electric cars scores great safety ratings – mainly thanks to the fact that you don’t need a huge amount of uninterrupted “space” for the combustion engine and all it’s peripherals. The electric drivetrain can be distributed and put into places where it actually gives some advantage (like using batteries to reinforce the floor and lower the center of gravity). And you split large areas by inserting “bars and tubes” to create new crumple zones. There are many old companies that didn’t get the message yet. They take an existing combustion chassis and put in sandwiched drivetrain, just like if it was an engine. That’s something even we can do in a garage – such OEM cars are an embarrassment of the EV technology.

      1. Mercedes licensed Tesla Model S parts to be used in Mercedes B electric. They do not have the technology yet to make their own proper electric car. It doesn’t say Mercedes anywhere – it even has huge words TESLA imprinted on the battery charger cover :) Of course masked out by a huge plastic cover with Mercedes logo in the engine bay. A bit of a fail I would say.

    1. You guys always want to hook everything to arduino :)
      You will need one that is able to generate three differential centrally aligned PWM waveforms with precise deadtime insertion

  2. The motors and controllers have been available on the market for decades. Motors and controllers from crash EV vehicles are rare.

    Helped a friend build an electric car in 1983 using a Le-Car. The motors and Controllers were readily available back then.


    And that was only 15 seconds of google.

  3. Surprisingly brief writeup, simply a picture of a motor controller with a new control board (suppose that would be the motor controller controller?), video of an unloaded motor (seriously its plugged in with alligator clips), and a bunch of comments along the lines of ‘with my genius ability to re-wire a motor now everyone can have 300kw motors in their EVs’. No load testing, no waveforms, no pinouts…

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