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MountainPass

Vendor
Mar 2, 2018
1,445
2,851
Toronto, Canada
Hi Everyone,

We thought this might be an appropriate place to post about our hybrid converted Nissan 350z GT racecar. Moderators, if there is a better place for this thread please move it accordingly. Thank you!

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Our racecar "Kels" started its life in 2003 as a Koni Challenge racecar. We purchased it in 2008 and have been racing it professionally in various series over the last 12 years. The car started off red, then blue, then green, and now it's silver! Kels is currently one of the fastest time attack cars in North America, and most likely the fastest non-V8 naturally aspirated time attack car. Last year we decided to take on the monumental task of converting the Z to an inline hybrid, using a Formula E motor, motorsport inverter, BMW i8 battery and a number of custom parts and innovative ideas.

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The car no longer has a starter, clutch or flywheel. The e-Motor is responsible to get the vehicle moving while at the same time spinning the gasoline engine. Once Kels is moving quickly enough the gasoline engine is activated if the car is in Gasoline or Hybrid mode. The car can also be driven in EV mode which is useful for loading it in the trailer for example.

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We've been working on this project in the background for almost a year, and it ran under its own power for the first time in December. We broke the shaft that connected the engine and eMotor, and it took until now to get a new re-designed shaft built.

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Well, all systems are go. The paddle shifted gearbox is working well, the drive-by-wire actuated individual throttle bodies are doing well, and we've characterized the torque output of the engine using our MoTeC electronics so that we can command a specific torque request, and blend that request across the eMotor and the engine, so that the driver has a linear feeling pedal with adjustable boost and regen maps that can be selected via the steering wheel.

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I feel strongly that this is the ultimate in terms of a nerdy car lovers dream. New technology while retaining the euphoric sounds of a naturally aspirated racing engine. I am so excited to drive this thing.

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Here are some videos to give you some history on the car, an overview video of the hybrid system, and some pictures of the car from the dyno. Early next week our friends at Speed Academy will be releasing the video from our time on the dyno!

In 2019 we achieved my lifelong goal of turning a 1:18 at Mosport (same pace as an IMSA GTD car if you're famillier with that - basically the top level non manufacturer run GT class in North America):


Here is an overview of the hybrid system partially complete:


Here is an overview of the hybrid components from Speed Academy:


Here is a RWD lap record we set earlier this year from Toronto Motorsports Park:


Here is Kels from 2016 racing against some exotic cars and getting a bit of crash damage:


I hope you all find this interesting!
 

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lotusland

Member
Jun 30, 2011
304
358
Very impressive! Do you think that going full EV would offer better performance than the hybrid? By that I mean having as much "stuff" as you have now, but all dedicated to EV rather than split ICE/EV. With the level of complexity you have now you could have multiple motors for an EV drivetrain and much better control on a per-wheel basis. Either way though this is a great experiment. Maybe it's a better gateway drug for ICE fans as well.
 

Daniel in SD

Well-Known Member
Jan 25, 2018
6,557
9,307
San Diego
Very impressive! Do you think that going full EV would offer better performance than the hybrid? By that I mean having as much "stuff" as you have now, but all dedicated to EV rather than split ICE/EV. With the level of complexity you have now you could have multiple motors for an EV drivetrain and much better control on a per-wheel basis. Either way though this is a great experiment. Maybe it's a better gateway drug for ICE fans as well.
Or would full ICE be better? :p
Obviously it's working if you're winning time attack races. What is the advantage of the hybrid setup vs. a more powerful engine?
How much of the battery do you drain in a hot lap? Do you use regenerative braking?
 

lotusland

Member
Jun 30, 2011
304
358
Right -- is hybrid better than a monolithic approach? Personally I don't like hybrids because I am an engineer, and they are needlessly complex, but this is a special case. Is it better or is this mostly a "because it's there" situation?
 

MountainPass

Vendor
Mar 2, 2018
1,445
2,851
Toronto, Canada
Very impressive! Do you think that going full EV would offer better performance than the hybrid? By that I mean having as much "stuff" as you have now, but all dedicated to EV rather than split ICE/EV. With the level of complexity you have now you could have multiple motors for an EV drivetrain and much better control on a per-wheel basis. Either way though this is a great experiment. Maybe it's a better gateway drug for ICE fans as well.

This is definitely one of those "because we can" projects :p

Or would full ICE be better? :p
Obviously it's working if you're winning time attack races. What is the advantage of the hybrid setup vs. a more powerful engine?
How much of the battery do you drain in a hot lap? Do you use regenerative braking?

The car is an absolute dream to drive. We wanted to add power without going the forced induction route. Why not learn some new things along the way? We use regenerative braking only to charge the battery when possible, but managing motor/inverter/battery heat is the biggest problem right now, so if regen is contributing to that, we have 9 levels of regen/power on the steering wheel we can control. We are still in early testing (simulating Mosport GP on the dyno) but it looks like the battery isn't going to be the limiting factor during a time attack session, the motor temperature is!

Right -- is hybrid better than a monolithic approach? Personally I don't like hybrids because I am an engineer, and they are needlessly complex, but this is a special case. Is it better or is this mostly a "because it's there" situation?

I would take a 700hp NA engine over a 700hp hybrid any day, but right now that just isn't possible with the VQ platform!
 

MountainPass

Vendor
Mar 2, 2018
1,445
2,851
Toronto, Canada
Did consider LiPo batteries? Wouldn't they be lighter for a given max power?

Our battery situation is definitely less than ideal. Our original plan was to purchase cells and build a custom water-cooled battery. We tested the best cells we could find that were available to us, but the voltage sag was so bad we would effectively have 50hp when actually on the throttle. Ideally, we would like to run an 800V system. Anyone have an in with F1?
 

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