Reverse Engineering a Tesla Drivetrain

Guest Post by Michal Elias. Michal Elias is an engineer based in Switzerland specializing in RF engineering, FPGA development, robotics and automotive tech development. Disclaimer: we do not recommend this procedure, but, we found Michal's post fascinating and thought it might be an interesting read/watch for many of you.

The Tesla drivetrain has been reverse engineered (and hacked) -- it's done. The Tesla motor is happily spinning next to me, as I write this text. You can see video proof featured here (see below).


This is actually quite an achievement for me, as this is the most advanced electric car drivetrain in production. And now, anyone can grab a wrecked Tesla Model S, Mercedes B electric (as I did), or Toyota RAV4 electric, as they share the same motor, and reuse these motors in any car. Another interesting thing is that they all have different ratings on a paper – Tesla Model S is obviously more powerful than Mercedes B, but it all boils down to the same drivetrain inside – all that changes is firmware. Unfortunately the CAN protocol changes, so the interface is not the same.


Above: The original Tesla motor controller

But this doesn’t really matter when you replace the motor controller from Tesla with a new one, where you have full control of all of the parameters. You can even put two such motors in one car, and they will not collide with each other. Do you want to squeeze all the possible power from your drivetrain, and put it in some kick-a** car? With the UMC Drive motor controller you can...


Above: UMC Drive with a Tesla inverter

Short summary of the UMC Drive

– Possibility to drive three phase motor (induction, BLDC, hybrid designs, etc.)

– Both sensor as well as sensorless capabilities

– Drive by wire dual output accelerator support

– CAN interface

– Isolated USB interface

– Very robust input protection

– Compatible with Toyota/Lexus, Chevrolet Volt inverters, Tesla inverters and others

– Self-learning of new motors (you can use this with motors I have never owned)


Above: UMC Drive 2.0 assembled and ready for testing

When everything started working, and I could spin any motor here at my place with the Tesla inverter, it was time to somehow bring that huge Tesla motor in my tiny apartment. Not an easy task! But thanks to a friend of mine, we managed...

Above: loaded up and ready for transport, and... it's here!


Republished with permission from Michal Elias. To find Michal's original blog post and learn more, visit here.

Please note - if you enjoyed this blog post, click the links to these other popular blog posts below:

Tesla Model S Teardown (Part 1)

Tesla Model S Teardown (Part 2)

Tesla Model S Battery Pack Teardown