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Old 06-28-2014, 05:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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2001 Chevy Suburban conversion to Electric PHEV Project

Good Afternoon Everyone. I am looking to do a project basically just because I want to. I want to convert my 2001 Chevy Suburban 2WD in to a gas/electric hybrid with the following features:

1. Removable battery packs so that I can charge one pack while I am driving on the other.
2. I will settle for a 72V battery system but I really want a 144V battery system(difference of $5K for a LiOn battery system)
3. I have a preference for LiOn batteries.
4. I don't want it to talk to the trucks computer system in v1.0. Therefore I would like to control the electric motor via a pot box or some other type of control to engage and control power to the electric motor.
5. The electric motor can be one of the NetGain models but I am debating on the 9 series or 11 series.
6. Since I won't be able to set up an elaborate braking regen system, I would like to use 2 or 3 extra high output alternators that would work as a generator to recharge the LiOn battery pack when I can't get to a plug fast enough (road trip). I saw a design where a guy on youtube had 5 or 6 connected by one serp belt. He was using it for to charge ultra capacitors for a music loudness competition.

With that being said, I want to ask the group what they think the best option would be out of the following:

1. Since I don't have a 4WD I am thinking of adding a rebuilt/new transfer case with a modification to accept the electric motor instead of where it would normally connect to the front driveshaft. The electric motor would turn the single driveshaft when engaged.

2. Have a transfer case like device built that doesn't require a shift to 4WD but its only purpose would be to give the driveshaft extra power over and above the power coming off the transmission. When not running, the device would spin freely and possibly be disengaged from electric motor. Would you go belt drive, chain drive or gear drive for this device?

3. Attach inline to the driveshaft (via cutting and modifying the driveshaft) as I have seen in many DIY hybrid versions.

4. Replace my front axle with a 4WD front axle that has a front diff and driveshaft connected to it. Instead of that front driveshaft connecting to a transfer case, connect it directly to the electric motor. This would seem to be the heaviest design so I would plan to use the shortest possible carbon fiber driveshaft and a lightweight aluminum cased front differential.

5. I also thought that going into the rear differential from the back of the truck would be a good design but I think Eaton or some other company has already done that and they may have a patent on the design. Also I could not find a company that would do a double-sided rear differential.


In any case, this is more experimental for me than practical so I am not interested in getting the engine from Tahoe Hybrid or downsizing the Suburban and replacing it with a Leaf or going all electric or any other different purchase options that don't involve a solution combining gas and electric in my paid for 2001 Suburban. I just want to do this project and I hope someone out there will be as excited as I am. Thanks in advance.


Last edited by tlh129; 06-28-2014 at 11:07 PM.. Reason: forgot #6
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Old 06-28-2014, 09:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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You need to get with someone who knows transfer cases. Some 4wd do not spin the front parts unless its shifted. Otherwise spin the front drive shaft, however there is a segment in the front axle that is operated by vacuum or serve to complete the connection. Sounds like you want it to always be in 4wd, Im sure thats something easy to change inside the transfer case so you dont need to make any holes in the cab for levers or rig up any wiring.

Not sure why the battery has to be removable? Lipo4 can be charged very aggressively unless you were going to take the pack in and charge it under your desk so to speak.
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Old 06-28-2014, 10:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for the reply Cobb. So you would go the route of the modified transfer case #1 or #2? As for the battery, I am sure I won't be able to charge at work. The charge at my desk was really funny though because of where I work. I like the idea of switching battery packs on demand so I never have to wait because I get home late during certain months of year and I question if I am able to charge in time for me to get back to work the next morning. It is just a desired luxury, not a deal breaker.
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Old 06-29-2014, 12:25 AM   #4 (permalink)
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How far is your commute? What's your budget? What are your goals like EV range and power? How are you planning to use electric vs gas? Any reason why you're not going full EV?

I know you want to use the Suburban, but you'd really be much better off with a different vehicle. The Suburban is a heavy brick, meaning you'll need more power and more kwh of batteries to have the same performance of a smaller vehicle. Using a Suburban as a one person commuter isn't very efficient no matter what the fuel is. Even an S-10 or Ranger would be better.
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Old 06-29-2014, 09:11 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for your reply Vskid3,

My daily commute is 15mi one way, when I am not picking up my 2 kids. I use my car to make that commute most of the time without my kids. However, whenever I have my kids, Wednesday night, Thursday night and every other Saturday and Sunday, I have their friends for team sport practices and games. I also coach little league flag football and basketball during the seasons. I also travel to other cities up to 4 hours away to put on adult flag football tournaments and I take my officials with me along with some players. Normal weekends, I do trips to Lowes picking up things for home improvement project. Sometimes I need my trailer, sometimes I just need my Suburban, sometimes I just need my car.

I want to be a little more clearer than I was in my original post. I actually want to do this. It is an attractive experiment to me. I have no interest in another vehicle or going full EV with this one. Therefore the budget will be whatever it takes over time. I did some preliminary calcs about 4 weeks ago and they come up to about $25K. I know people spend this one bathrooms, kitchens, yards, vacations, other vehicles and enhancements to those vehicles, art, weddings, off-road vehicles, model airplanes, RC airplanes and vehicles, video games and other forms of wants and entertainment. This is actually my desire. I just want proof of concept for version 1.0. In version 2.0, I plan on doing things like finding places to shave weight such as removing my spare, possibly shrinking the tank, getting a carbon fiber hood fabricated along with replacing the real chrome bumpers with carbon fiber, replacing all the seats, with lighter weight seats, finding lighter alloy rims, removing the outside mirrors, possibly downsizing to a smaller engine, and adding lightweight 300W solar panels to the roof and possibly the sides of the vehicle. Now the Suburban has just become an attraction or monstrosity, depending on who is looking at it. So in other words, I just think this would be a really cool project I want to undertake. Thanks.
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Old 06-29-2014, 11:09 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I'd swap to a trans with a pto (compact, full time or selective drive), or the tahoe hybrid transmission (motor built in).
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Old 06-29-2014, 11:24 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks Xntrx. I didn't know that there was a such thing as a PTO (unless you are saying that this is how tow packages are designed) for a passenger vehicle or non-tractor/mower. Also wouldn't I have to make the whole concept work in reverse? It seems instead of power-take-off, it would be power add in. As for the Tahoe Hybrid transmission, has the engine to transmission design not changed so much in almost ten years that I would be able to mate a 2001 5.3L vortec engine to a minimum of a 2008 transmission?
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Old 06-29-2014, 11:46 AM   #8 (permalink)
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PTO should works in reverse. The problem is with any transfer case/ PTO option is you'll be driving it from the coast side, so longevity may be a concern.

For the Tahoe, GM like to keep the same bellhousing. The SBC kept it for 50 years, and they only changed it slightly for the LS series. You'll want to confirm everything, since I've not messed with those much lately. This is the factory solution for your problem though.
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Old 06-29-2014, 12:23 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Ok I have been researching the PTO solution since responding to your last response. Learned a few new things. However, I guess I still dont understand how the PTO will allow the electric motor to do its thing on demand. My basic understanding of a PTO has always been that you are sending some of the engines power to a secondary device that never has anything to do with the propulsion of the vehicle. Now as I am typing this , I think you are telling me that the power will still go to seconday device and it will be assisted by the electric motor. Do I have that right?
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Old 06-29-2014, 12:45 PM   #10 (permalink)
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http://www.munciepower.com/clientupl.../TR-G94-01.pdf

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