Electric cars can be fun. There, I said it. As much as some enthusiasts like to joke about all EVs being as lively as a Toyota Prius, there's just something about that instant off-the-line torque that's just *chef's kiss.* But the lack of visceral engine sound and row-your-own gearbox can make a battery-powered car a bit less fun to drive after a few months, at least to some drivers. That's what happened to Justin, a Chinese car enthusiast who drives a Tesla Model 3.
Justin says that while his Tesla is "fun and fast," it quickly became boring to drive. He recalls watching Rich Rebuilds creating the world's first V8-swapped Tesla, which inspired him to concoct a swap idea of his own. But unlike Rich, who went with a combustion setup, Justin wanted to combine the instant torque of an EV with the fun of a turbocharged gasser. That meant building a hybrid.
Here's how it's planned to go down. The Tesla Model 3 will retain one 300-horsepower factory electric motor in the rear of the car and its factory battery. A second motor and gearbox—which is manual, by the way—are being worked to fit into the space where the frunk once was. The gasoline motor will power the front wheels exclusively, which means the car will have an all-wheel-drive layout with an estimated 70-30 power split.
Despite the comment section of his TikTok video calling on the builder to use a Honda-sourced K-series engine, Justin chose to go with something different, citing ease of replacement parts and cost-effectiveness for performance gains. Under the frunk sits a Volkswagen EA888 2.0-liter four-cylinder plucked from a Volkswagen Golf.
With plenty of aftermarket support thanks to the Golf R and GTI, building the engine into a 750-horsepower monster looked to be quite an achievable feat. Justin and his team built the engine with forged internals and slapped on a Garrett G30-770 turbocharger to get the job done. To make sure they hit that goal of more than 700 horsepower, a little bit of nitrous is used to provide the extra power when the turbo runs out of breath.
Justin and his team also made a custom subframe and suspension setup to accommodate the new engine in the front of the car. They also relocated all of the factory Tesla components that sit in the frunk to the rear of the car. It took around three months for the initial fitment of the engine and the fabrication to be completed, but by the end of all of that hard work, Justin could hear the Volkswagen engine roar to life while mounted inside of the frunk.
The high voltage Tesla battery was able to be mounted back in its original location, meaning that nearly everything behind the Volkswagen drivetrain stays untouched. One big question is just how nicely the combustion engine will play with Tesla's stock software and its electric drive unit. Regardless, Justin's series on the car will soon reveal some of its secrets.
Justin's project is still a work in progress, but it's already undergone quite a bit of work and looks like it will be a success. He says that he expects the car to be drivable by mid-June.