By on January 29, 2021


Hawthorne, California-based AEM EV will soon debut an EV conversion control system that increases horsepower when using Tesla’s Large Drive Unit (LDU) base drive.



AEM EV’s system, jointly developed with Cascadia Motion, a leader in EV propulsion, combined with the company’s VCU200 vehicle control unit, provides OE-level safety, vehicle control, and increased HP.


Together, AEM EV’s LDU Inverter Control Board and VCU200 eliminate control uncertainty and limitations. AEM EV’s integration delivers more power and full control through a system that’s been thoroughly validated. Increasing the Tesla LDU base drive’s HP by 26 percent over the baseline as measured on a chassis dynamometer, further increases in output power are possible prior to the system’s release in mid-Q1 of this year. Tesla LDU performance drive motor validation will occur sometime after the release date.


Tesla’s OEM board is replaced with the Inverter Control Board in the LDU inverter, which connects to the VCU200 via CAN bus. Included with the ICU is an adapter harness with near plug and play connectivity, with the exception of 12-volt power and ground connections. The VCU200 and LDU inverter control board are designed for EV conversions only, and will not operate Tesla vehicles equipped with a factory LDU.


To realize the power gains, and to use the additional controls and safety features the LDU inverter control board and the VCU200 for the Tesla LDU provides, they must be utilized in tandem. Some of the features include motor torque management, dynamic torque limits for traction and launch control, accelerator pedal, brake switch, PRND switches, and other driver or vehicle inputs. In addition, cooling pumps, fans, lights, safety-critical inputs, high-voltage startup and shutdown sequencing, CAN message translation, diagnostics, and thermal limitations are among the board’s functions. More information on the latest Tesla Model S can be found on an earlier post.


Software developed in-house for AEM EV VCUs simplifies power delivery and control of all the ancillary subsystems of EV conversion vehicles and motorsports applications. If you’re ready to go green with your classic muscle car, hot rod, or pickup truck, AEM EV can help you make the EV conversion as painless as possible. For more information, go to

[Images: Tesla, AEM EV]

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24 Comments on “More Power From Tesla EV Conversions...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “If you’re ready to go green with your classic muscle car, hot rod, or pickup truck, AEM EV can help you make the EV conversion as painless as possible.”

    Relatively speaking, I suppose. Such conversions are very expensive. The price jumps a lot if you’re looking for decent range, power steering, heating and A/C, power brakes, and weight balance.

    Personally, the only cars I’d consider for an EV conversion would be those with little value to begin with, and whose drivetrains aren’t particularly reliable or noteworthy. Otherwise, a crate engine and standard restoration are the best, least painful path to the finish line, and provide greater long-term value to future buyers.

    • 0 avatar

      Sure, if you wanna be like the OTHER 50,000 old dudes driving around in a 69 Charger.

      The point of EV converting an old muscle car is that you want to have something fun and unique, but modern. To marry the best of future technology with the best looking designs of the past. Just restoring it as close to the original as possible may get you more resale in the current market, but it doesn’t really move it forward into the future.

      But yeah, the cost of conversion currently is a real problem. I think eventually the actual solution will be kit cars that take a generic ev skateboard frame and let you slap on a shell made to look like the cool car you remember. Want an EV AC Cobra? Slap the shell on it. Want an EV etype? Slap that shell on it instead.

      But that will eventually require the industry coming together to standardize the underlying frames. The cost savings will have to come from volume and the only way you get volume in a market that is catering to niche tastes like this is if you are hitting multiple niches at once.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s your money and I can see the appeal on something like a late 70s Torino or ’81 Deville but with a ’69 Charger I would rather be like the 50,000 old guys.

        • 0 avatar
          Bill Wade

          426 Hemi 4 speed for the win. :)

          Batteries have no soul. :(

          • 0 avatar

            It’s like the old CD vs. Vinyl days when people said “CDs have no warmth.”

            The “soul” in gas cars is literally noise and flaws that insert themselves into the driving experience. An EV is a much more direct connection between the driver and the road. As much as I love a good V8 or 12cyl engine working in perfect unison with the curves of a back road, there’s no soul.

      • 0 avatar

        I dunno. I want to be an old dude with a garage of classic cars one day.

        I could see converting something like an air cooled porsche or VW. They aren’t rare, the original engines sound like trash, and most EV conversions provide a better driver experience. Even something like an early model first generation NSX would be a good candidate for an EV conversion because that engine was a dog and the lack of power steering would probably make it relatively simple. Any British car is a candidate for an EV swap because it would keep your driveway free of engine oil. It could make an 80’s XJS the perfect car.

        I don’t think I’d convert something like a classic Mustang or Challenger, where the V8 engine is the foundation of the car. They deserve a proper restoration with the correct engine. The exception is any Mustang with the feeble Ford inline 6 definitely deserves an EV conversion. Though most of those have been crushed by now.

  • avatar

    Ah, a picture of the mythical Roadster….
    It must have T-boned the mythical Semi carrying a load of mythical Cybertrucks and they all went over a cliff together and burst into flames, never to be seen again.

  • avatar

    More KWs, Yeah!

    I could see doing this to a classic sports car like an original Sting Ray or something British/Italian, but you’d really have to love the car and have lots of bucks

  • avatar

    “OE-level safety”

    So, don’t park it in the garage? (I kid, I kid.)

  • avatar

    There already exists a BEV conversion of the Jaguar E-type. Personally, I consider it sacrilege especially when the original ICE was their inline six.

  • avatar

    Personally, I think that Anyone who wants to take a classic muscle car, hot rod or pick up truck and convert it to electric power should be shot in the back of the head and set on fire and whatever is left should be tar and feathered and then drawn and quartered.

    Part of that Muscle car, hot rod experience is the sound of the engine, the vibrations, the smell of exhaust. You dont want that fine, buy a prius.

    AS the last paragraph for SCE to AUX said fine for cars with little value. I agree with that.

  • avatar

    I’m totally on board with this.

    “Hot Rod” doesn’t have to mean “loud.” It means “a vehicle whose performance has been improved from original.”

    The lower center of gravity made possible by the batteries in the floor, and the instant torque of an electric motor certainly have MY attention.

    I’ve been able to move on from carbs and distributors and enjoy this current computerized age. I think as the time draws near to leap into the electric future, I’ll be up for it – as long as it improves the performance and driveability.

    • 0 avatar

      @budda-boom: You’re totally right. In fact, if any of those muscle car designers/builders could have put an 1100 hp AWD drivetrain that got the car 0-60 in less than 2 seconds, they would have done it in a heartbeat. It wasn’t about the noise, performance was the priority no matter how you got it. The stuff you’d see in cars on Telegraph or Woodward back in the day was amazing.

      If you want to be a purist, then replacing early Ford 4 cylinders with V-8s or swapping out a flathead should be off the table.

      Of course, there are cars I personally wouldn’t want to electrify. I do like the sound of flatheads and early cars. Cars that I think were originally meant to be quiet, but fast and powerful like T-Birds I’d have no qualms about electrifying. A straight 8 Buick I probably wouldn’t touch. A V-8 late 50’s or early 60’s I might. Same with early 60’s luxury cars.

      • 0 avatar

        “It wasn’t about the noise, performance was the priority no matter how you got it.”

        I think you are way off my man. Muscle cars were built for speed, but there was definitely a noise and “peacocking” component to them as well.

        If they could have made a 1000hp EV GTO in 1968 Pontiac still would have figured out a way to make it not silent.

        And nearly any pony/muscle car (or even most AMG/M-cars) built after like 1993 certainly had “noise” as an engineering component.

  • avatar

    Actually this could save antiques/classics, which many were predicating to be languished by future generations.

  • avatar

    Isn’t this what Elon wanted in the first place? almost give-away drive trains for everybody to use, but a monopoly on the battery pack design?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Not that I’m aware of.

      There are big differences in the approach for drivetrain and battery design among the EV mfrs. This becomes evident in the EPA range of EVs with similar weight and performance. Generally, Tesla has them all beat for efficiency and miles per dollar.

      I could be wrong, but except for the prehistoric RAV4 that used a Tesla drivetrain and battery, I don’t think anyone is trying to use or license Tesla’s design. Even if they wanted to, Tesla has no spare capacity to sell new parts to them. The conversions I’ve heard of use Tesla parts salvaged from wrecks.

      In the case of AEM Electronics, it looks like they’re just selling you the controls – not the entire drivetrain. Some assembly required.

  • avatar

    Would my assumption that essentially all of this article is a copy-paste from the press release be wrong? Nah, didn’t think so.

  • avatar

    Tesla already puts heavy stress on its batteries to get the mileage it claims. Supercharging that is playing roulette with your battery life, in a $15,000+ battery.

    • 0 avatar

      “Supercharging that is playing roulette with your battery life”

      No it isn’t. You should read up on the electrode coating technology patents they’ve filing and the white papers Jeff Dahn has been publishing over the last few years. Other manufacturers have solved the problems as well. I just saw an article about the technology that was used to perform the analysis to figure out what they needed for the coatings. I think it’s only recently found its way into the batteries.

      Tesla is also much better at thermal management of the batteries than other manufacturers. For example on a leaf, there is no way to pre-condition the battery, but with a Tesla, you can set a supercharger as a destination and the car will pre-condition the battery for the charge.

      Quick/super charges perform analysis and monitor the battery on all makes while charging and try to prevent damage during charges.

      • 0 avatar

        How do you explain this sort of thing then? It seems like frequent supercharging still causes higher than average degradation.

  • avatar

    Conspicuously missing from the information is anything about the battery needed to produce that increase in HP.

    You can’t magically tune more power into a motor. The amount of mechanical power a motor puts out is directly proportional to the amount of electrical power it is consuming. Any given motor has a max power that it can produce given a power supply with sufficient current at the rated voltage. So to be able to increase the power you either in the original application the battery wasn’t capable of safely providing enough current and you give it a battery that can supply the needed current. Or you increase the voltage of the battery, and for that to work you have to assume it was designed to run on a higher voltage than it does in the original application.

    TL/DR you will need a bigger, more capable battery to increase the power output of the motor.

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