An electric Mustang coupe could be on the cards one day, with Ford preparing the next generation of its pony car as we speak. If you want that instant-on torque in the meantime, however, you'll have to build your own. AEM Electronics are doing just that, giving a 2007 Ford Mustang GT the humming heart of a Tesla.
The project came about as AEM needed a project car to show off its own inverter control board developed for Tesla drivetrains. The Mustang was sourced off Craigslist from an EV enthusiast who had already done a successful Tesla swap. The car was fitted with the Sport version of the Tesla Large Drive Unit, which AEM swapped out for the base unit as seen in the 2013-2015 Model S, which was the primary unit its hardware was developed for.
Running AEM's inverter board, the drivetrain is tuned to put out over 400 horsepower and a healthy 330 lb-ft of torque. Motor Trend reports that the car is capable of a 11.78 quarter-mile time with a trap speed of 117 mph on street tires, while achieving representative times of 12.2 seconds in its own runs. It's a quicker time than the Ford Mustang Mach-E, either way.
The build goes a long way to demonstrating what an electric Mustang could really be like, in sharp contrast to the Ford Mustang Mach-E. AEM's build is a performance-focused tire-shredding coupe, which is very much what the Mustang brand has historically traded on, rather than being a four-door SUV. The build made an appearance recently at the Holley High Voltage show at Sonoma Raceway, laying down a smoky burnout on the strip, as is good and proper.
The Mustang has been gutted, with the fuel tank, live rear axle, transmission, and engine all ripped out. Instead, fabrication work at the rear enabled the installation of an entire Tesla Model S subframe complete with motors in place. QA-1 coilovers in the rear are used in place of the original Model S air suspension. Finding wheels to fit the odd setup was tough, with a set of rims from a 2008 Corvette pressed into service as they had just the right offset for the job.
The drive unit is liquid-cooled, with hard lines running all the way to the front of the car into the stock Mustang GT radiator fitted with the stock cooling fan. A Model S cooling pump is used to circulate fluid through the system.
Batteries from a "hybrid minivan" were chosen for the build for their ability to deliver more current than the range-optimized Tesla cells. Six batteries are installed under the hood, with a further six under the car where the engine, transmission, and gas tank used to be. Combined with the company's electronics, AEM claim that it has achieved better performance from the Tesla drive unit than is available in its original stock trim.
Range was compromised somewhat to keep weight down and reduce complexity of the build. AEM's Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Lawson Mollica, reported to Hot Cars that the vehicle is readily capable of completing his daily commute of around 70 miles on a single charge, however.
Other mods include a Wilwood big brake kit with 14" rotors and meaty six-pot calipers up front, which help to bring the 3600 lb ride to a stop in a hurry. The car still lacks air conditioning, but a system is partially installed at the moment, according to Hot Cars.
The aim was to create a performance EV that could handle daily driving duties without breaking a sweat. Thus, AEM threw everything and the kitchen sink at the build. Rigged up with AEM's own electronics throughout, virtually everything on the car works. Solid-state power distribution modules run everything from the electric power steering to the brake vacuum pump and the battery's cooling loop, all controlled over CANBus from the AEM VCU200 controller.
The car's interior is remarkably clean and tidy for a custom project build like this one. The original gauge cluster has been removed, and replaced with an AEM CD5 digital dash, which displays everything from the charging process to speed and battery readouts. A button pad integrated into the center console in place of the shifter allows the driver to shift from park to drive or reverse, as well as powering the car up by engaging the contactors. Varying power levels can also be selected at the touch of a button.
AEM boasts that the real value of using their hardware for a Tesla swap is the tuning functionality of their solution. Unlike hacking standard Tesla modules, the AEM solution allows the motor to be driven as hard as one desires, and also doesn't put limitations on integrating with other hardware on the CANbus either. In a video AEM released of the car driving on the street, it's clear that the setup can be tuned for a good time, with the rear tires breaking loose under power.
Overall, the car serves as a demonstration of what can be achieved in the homebrew EV space. As a bonus, it's street legal in California to boot. Source a good Tesla drive unit, and source the right aftermarket control modules, and with a bit of fabrication you too could have a comfortable custom EV with great performance. Expect to see fierce competition in this space as electric swaps continue to catch on.
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