From Nissan ICE Pickup To BEV With Nissan Leaf Heart

First run of the motor with battery pack still externally connected.

Last year [Jimmy] got a request from a customer ([Dave]) to help convert a 1998 Nissan Frontier pickup into an electric drive vehicle, with a crashed 2019 Nissan Leaf providing the battery and electric motor for the conversion. He has documented the months-long journey with plenty of photos, as well as a series of videos over at the [EVSwap Conversions] YouTube channel. While the idea sounds easy enough, there’s a lot more to it than swapping out the ICE with an electric motor and sticking some batteries to the bottom of the car somewhere with double-sided tape. The pickup truck got effectively stripped down  and gutted, before the 110 kW (150 HP) motor got installed using an adapter plate.

The donor Leaf’s battery pack came in at a decently sized 40 kWh, which should give the converted Nissan Frontier BEV a range of easily 100 miles. This pack was split up into two packs, which got put into a custom aluminium battery box, each mounted on one side of the driveshaft. The charging port got installed on the front of the car, next to the logo, discreetly behind a panel. The front of the car had much of the openings that were needed for the ICE’s radiator sealed up for reduced air friction, along with the new low-friction tires that got installed. Although this converted car still has a radiator, it only needs to assisting cooling the motor stack (including inverter and charger) when driving slowly or charging, making it far less demanding and thus allows for a more sleek front.

As a bonus, the car still has the manual 5-gear shift, just without a clutch, and the pickup bed can now also tilt, albeit with hydraulics (so far). Considering that it started with a decent 1998 pickup and totaled Nissan Leaf, this is among the cleanest conversions we have seen, not to mention a good use of a crashed BEV.

Thanks to [JohnU] for the tip.

9 thoughts on “From Nissan ICE Pickup To BEV With Nissan Leaf Heart

  1. How does it work with a 5 speed manual without a clutch? Does it have a clutch pedal – to match the motor RPM to whatever the road speed and selected gear calculate at? Or it it a crash box? Or do you just select a gear and go – hoping you selected the right one for the job at hand (highway/driveway/drag at lights)?

    1. EV conversions that still have a gearbox are usually capable of driving in any gear from standstill. There is plenty enough torque to do so. Typically you will run in 3rd or 4th gear, but can use the lower gears for extra torque for slow travel if needed. Shifting gear while moving is mostly unnecessary.

    1. I completely agree Piotrsko. I would have liked to do the entire restoration myself or better yet, have a group of high school STEM students complete the design /build. The goal of ELVIS (Electric Learning Vehicle Involving Students) is to help motivate young adults to pursue engineering and EV technician careers and encourage them to build their own EV projects. ELVIS is a mobile learning lab. Jimmy/EV Swap and I will team up to give presentations to middle and high school students in the Denver area in the future. We also plan to add 800 watts of solar panels and 110v solar generator/V2H capability. Stay tuned on Jimmy’s YouTube channel. Thanks, Dave…retired teacher

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