This Tesla Model 3 hybrid build will offer 1,000 horsepower of gasoline-powered fun
Electric cars can be fun. That’s where I said it. As much as some enthusiasts joke about all EVs being as lively as a Toyota Prius, there’s just something about that instant torque out of the box that just*kiss of the chef.* But the lack of visceral engine sound and dedicated rudder gearing can make running a battery-powered car less fun after a few months, at least for some drivers. This happened to Justin, a Chinese car enthusiast who drives a Tesla Model 3.
Justin says that while his Tesla was “fun and fast,” it quickly became boring to drive. He recalls watching Rich Rebuilds create the world’s first V8 swapped Tesla, which inspired him to dream up a swap idea of his own. But unlike Rich, who opted for a combustion setup, Justin wanted to combine the instantaneous torque of an electric vehicle with the fun of a turbocharged carburetor. That meant building a hybrid.
This is how the descent is planned. The Tesla Model 3 will retain a 300hp 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 machined to fit in the space where the frunk once resided. The petrol engine will only power the front wheels, meaning the car will have an all-wheel drive layout with an estimated 70-30 power split.
Despite the comments section of his TikTok video urging the manufacturer to use a Honda K-series engine, Justin opted otherwise, citing ease of parts supply and cost-effectiveness for performance upgrades. 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, fitting the engine into a 750hp monster seemed like a perfectly achievable feat. Justin and his team built the engine with forged internals and installed a Garrett G30-770 turbocharger to get the job done. To ensure they hit that 700+ horsepower target, a little nitrous oxide is used to provide the extra power when the turbo runs out of steam.
Justin and his team also made a custom subframe and suspension to house the new engine in the front of the car. They’ve also moved all of the factory Tesla components that sit in the trunk to the rear of the car. It took about three months to complete the initial engine installation and fabrication, but at the end of all that hard work, Justin could hear the Volkswagen engine come to life while mounted in the trunk.
The high-voltage Tesla battery could be reinstalled in its original place, leaving almost everything behind the Volkswagen drive train untouched. A big question is how well the internal combustion engine will play with Tesla’s standard software and its electric drive. 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 done some work and looks set to be a success. He expects the car to be ready to drive by mid-June, he says.
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