The Specs:


100% electric

EV VW Bus

The first build has:
– 100 kilometers range
– 80 kW motor + inverter
– 50 kW Chademo quick charging
Coming soon:
– 900W Solar panels on the roof
– 200-300 km range with more batteries
– CSS quick charging


Upcycling

Nissan Leaf parts

All of the main EV components came from a crashed 2016 Nissan Leaf. These are controlled with the Resolve-EV VCU vehicle controlling unit. I found that this was the simplest, cost effective, climate friendly and powerful solution of all. Isak from Resolve-EV has done good work in developing this controller!


Road Legal

It is a joy to drive.

The MOT inspection was approved in August 2022, first try. There were many things that had to be considered, but it was a straight forward process. Why don’t we do this more often?

The VW keeps up with traffic well, can achieve highway speeds and climb hills and mountains. Full torque from the get-go!

SUPPORT THE PROJECT

Your help keeps me going!

Impossible task

Dreaming big.

What on earth was I thinking? With very little knowledge on fabricating custom automotive parts and no experience whatsoever on welding – I set on this task to convert a classic Volkswagen Bus into an electric vehicle. Why?

The initial idea for the project was born in 2015 When I was finishing my studies at Turku Arts Academy. I wanted to make a dazzling Rock’n’Roll Circus Show with a classic car with guitar solos in splits and flips on top of the car. Old cars are so amazingly cool (also in winter) but they’re notoriously bad at fuel economy and they produce emissions. Well, all combustion engine vehicles produce emissions. So I wanted a car that doesn’t burn anything. No more burning fossile fuels!

Photos: Minna Ihalmo-Isojunno
Performing in Madrid 2021, Photo: Eva Filgueira

I found the perfect candidate for the project in January 2017. This 1979 Volkswagen T2 Late Bay Window Bus. It was in good overall condition and it possessed the perfect look! I did quiet a few gigs with it even before the electric conversion. Gathering funding for the parts took way too long but I eventually got there. At the same time I was absorbing knowledge on possible ways to realise my dream!

EM57 Nissan Leaf electric motor underside
Butchered the innards of the VW Bus
Fitting the 30 kWh Nissan Leaf battery pack

After dismantling the old gasoline engine I noticed that there was a gaping hole in the place where I inteded to weld the battery mounts. There was no interest nor time to do a complete paint stripping/rust treatment for the whole body. I wanted to get this thing rolling already and there was gigs waiting to be done! Also the body was in good condition so I cleaned and repaired what was neccessary and went on with it…

I fabricated mounts for the motor + gearbox, PDM (power distribution module), inverter, battery, coolant reservoir, etc. It was a matter of test fitting and grinding and repeating until it was perfect.

I used the existing original VW motor mounts and adapted them to carry the EV components.

It appeared that there was a lot of room to arrange all of the components. In the end it was quiet a tetris to make it all fit reasonably. I am pretty pleased with the result, it works!

DIY HV cables from the inverter to the motor.
Originally in a Nissan Leaf the inverter sits on top of the motor and they’re connected with these copper slabs. Because in my layout they were separeted, I made three of these 1 meter long high voltage cables from 70mm² welding cable.

Here is the whole stack ready to go in.

There was one thing I couldn’t do myself.

This cover was 3D printed to shield the connectors from dust, water and snow. The holes were covered later, don’t worry!

Jaakko Sirainen made the 3D model for the print. Thank you Panda also for the help!

This is why my build was 99.99% DIY.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help!

Connecting the driveshafts

Ghetto style.

Made stepped cuts to make a sturdy connection.

The Nissan Leaf gearbox and Volkswagen driveshafts had to be mated together to make the wheels spin. Originally I thought I’d have someone make custom adapters for the driveshafts. Then I found out that someone was planning to begin selling these adapters. Unfortunately or luckily? this person couldn’t do this in time. So I went on to cut and weld the shafts myself!

I had bought the Nissan Leaf driveshafts and I also had a new pair of VW shafts so I could mess around and start over if the first try failed. There was no need for that because I got it right the first time.

I cut the shafts and slid a pipe to be welded on top the stepped connecting welds. The pipe will secure the connection. True ghetto style apocalyptic auto mechanics!

Leaf + VW driveshafts
The Fiskars scissors can do wonders.

Cables & Wires, lots of them.

There were over a 100 wires to connect. Luckily Resolve-EV has a well documented manual on the process. Still it took a couple of sleepless nights to connect everything.

To be continued…
Updated 6.12.2022

© Motör Circus