There’s A Tesla Model 3 Performance Drivetrain Hiding Inside This Toyota Tacoma

By automotive-mag.com 5 Min Read

Meet Tescoma. At first glance, it’s just a first-generation Toyota Tacoma pickup. Simple, American-built, dependable. But take a peek under the hood and you’ll be surprised to find that the gasoline engine that used to hum when the truck was new is nowhere to be found.

In its place, there’s some orange wiring and a big, shiny piece of metal that says “Tesla” on it. But it’s all silent. Walk a few feet toward the bed and you’ll also see that the thing isn’t exactly stock.

This ladies and gentlemen, might just be the world’s first Toyota Tacoma with half of a Tesla Model 3 Performance drivetrain and a full battery swap. It’s the brainchild of Drewthecarguy over on the Tacoma World forums, who picked up a very well-taken-care-of two-wheel drive 2002 Tacoma and set out to build it into something special.

After driving a Tesla Model 3 as a daily driver for a while, he said he got addicted to the instant torque of an EV, so the project was clear: convert the old Tacoma into a battery-powered pickup.

In keeping with the truck’s original setup, the mastermind who came up with the idea decided to fit just the rear electric motor from a used Tesla Model 3 Performance, a move that resulted in a power output of around 300 horsepower. As a reminder, the Model 3 Performance came with a dual-motor setup, but a front motor was not used for this build. The electric sedan was also built in the same California factory as the two-decade-old pickup, albeit under different owners and names.

The high-voltage battery that came out of another Tesla Model 3 was disassembled and the four modules were split: two between the chassis rails and two in the truck bed, under a custom-made enclosure.

The builder said in his posts that he decided to go with a Model 3 battery instead of anything else because he wanted to have around 200 miles of range when fully charged. The decision to keep all four modules was down to the electric motor requiring 400 volts to work properly, so keeping just two modules would have resulted in just 200V without adding extra hardware.

The so-called penthouse that usually sits beneath a Model 3’s trunk and holds all the gubbins like the DC to DC converter, onboard charger, contactors and battery management system was relocated under the front hood. 

The suspension needed to be modified to cope with the extra weight of the batteries–roughly 1,200 pounds extra–so a Ridetech coilover setup was installed. The front brakes were upgraded with a set of used Cadillac ATS calipers and new EVO rotors that were drilled out at a local machine shop to fit the Tacoma’s hubs, while the rears got a set of Tesla-sourced brakes. 

The power steering uses a Volvo pump and the power brakes make use of a Tesla Model S vacuum pump, both of which are electrically powered. There’s also a Tesla Model S-sourced A/C compressor.

As for the charging situation, most other Tesla-swapped conversions keep the EV’s NACS connector as well as the vehicle’s ability to top up at Superchargers. Not this one, though. The man behind the project said he went for an aftermarket drive unit controller from EV Controls and that charging would be done through a J1772 connector to keep things less expensive.

Tesla-swapped 2002 Toyota Tacoma

The Tesla Model 3 Performance rear motor installed on the back of the 2002 Tacoma

As for performance, the converted Tacoma that was built last year is reportedly capable of going from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 3.5 seconds. That’s pretty brisk for a modern hot hatch, let alone a 22-year-old pickup.

The creation was up for sale a couple of times for $25,000, including on Doug DeMuro’s Cars and Bids website. The most recent listing we found was on a private Facebook group for $15,000, but that has since been removed, so we don’t know what happened to the EV-converted Tacoma.

In any case, we think it’s a pretty sweet ride and yet another proof that hot rodding won’t disappear in the age of electric cars. It’s just going to be different.

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