Technically, a transaxle and motor all-in-one, the Tesla Performance Rear Drive Unit is the bad boy of electric motors for EV conversions, creating up to 589 horsepower. These were found on the “Performance” variants (starting with a P) of the Tesla Model S and Model X.
The dual-motor setups without the P designation such as the 85D, 90D, and 100D all came with a smaller rear drive unit. That piddly little thing is not what we’re discussing here, this is the monster motor that has been featured in EV conversion after EV conversion that flaunts performance over all other things.
One such conversion is from EV West. The Large Tesla Performance Rear Drive Unit that powers silent, smokey burnouts is from a Tesla Model S P85. To give it the juice, there’s a 32KwH battery pack filled with cells from LG Chem. Half are in the front, and half are in the rear for weight distribution purposes. In total, the electrons flowing through the motor produce about 550 hp.
This is the complete list of vehicles in which a Large Performance Rear Drive Unit are in:
- Tesla Model S P85, P85+, P90D, P100D
- Tesla Model X P90D, P100D
Telsa Large Rear Drive Units consist of three main parts: the Inverter, the Transmission, and the Motor.
The Inverter is how the drive unit converts DC power from the battery to the AC power that the 3-phase AC Induction Motor needs to run. This is where there lies the majority of physical differences between the Base and Performance models. The Inverter has to handle a ton of energy being pumped through it.
There are conflicting rumors about which models of Inverter can handle what power. The short story is: if you want to put more amperage through the Inverter than what it originally was designed for in regards to the exact model of Tesla from which the Drive Unit originates, you may be risking damage.
So how much power did these Inverter/Motor combinations make within the Performance models?
- P85, P85+: 416 horsepower
- P90D, P100D: 503 horsepower
- P100D Ludicrous: 589 horsepower
The Motors of the Drive Unit have been rumored to be very similar between models (even Base Large Rear Drive Units have the same Motor). So, if you plan on bypassing the Inverter, which is not typical, you could turn a P85 Motor into a Ludicrous Motor by pumping a bunch of amps through it. That said, there is credible rumors that Motors that were found to have better tolerances and performance when tested were cherry-picked off the assembly line to be used in higher-output models. This is a common practice called “product binning.” So even if Motor came off the assembly line right beside another Motor, it doesn’t necessarily mean it can handle the same amount of power. As with Inverters, you’re best advised not to exceed the output of the original specification unless you are buying from a 3rd party supplier with a super awesome warranty.
There is more than one part number associated with the Tesla Performance Rear Drive Unit. Concrete information about differences remains somewhat elusive. A decent rule of thumb is that the later the drive unit was manufactured, the more it can handle hard launches reliably. One benefit of a typical EV conversion is that it will likely come in at a lighter weight than the original Model S or Model X that it came in, ensuring that even with the hardest of launches there will be fewer forces on the drivetrain.
That said, early units and to a lesser extent newer units have a reputation for making a “whirring” noise at higher speeds and many were replaced by Tesla. It’s unlikely that you’d find a defective unit in the secondary market unless it came from a crashed vehicle that had not been fixed yet, since Tesla likely would have replaced it and remanufactured the defective unit. That said, this means that remanufactured units are common and can be identified by special parts numbers. There’s no indication that these remanufactured units are more or less reliable than other drive units built at the same time.
- 1002633-01-R – The original Performance Rear Drive Unit from the P85 and P85+.
- 1025598-00-P – The original Performance Rear Drive Unit from the P85 and P85+. Remanufactured by the factory.
- 1002633-00-Q – Revision to original Large Performance Rear Drive Unit. Rumored to use ceramic bearings.
- 1002633-01-Q -Revision to original Large Performance Rear Drive Unit. Rumored to use ceramic bearings. The “01” may designate it being used in international markets.
- 1025276-00-Q – Revision to the original Large Performance Rear Drive Unit. Rumored to use ceramic bearings. Remanufactured by the factory.
- 1002633-01-B – Found in the P90D.
Other model numbers (especially post-2016 models) may exist and will be added as they become more common in the wild.
So where to get one of these behemouths? Ebay is always an option, although your mileage may vary on support after getting the lump of power dropped off in your driveway. Some companies have taken it upon themselves to make it easier to incorporate these motors into your drivetrain.
057 has lightly refurbished versions that make the Drive Units easier to control using their proprietary 057 Drive Unit Controller, and advertise horsepower ratings slightly higher than factory to boot. The drive unit is warrantied against dead-on-arrivals, but they are not willing to go further than that and guarantee the unit for any length of time or mileage. 057 is a reputable company within EV conversion circles.
Stealth EV similarly has lightly refurbished units with proprietary drive controllers. EV West has a kit that includes other components necessary for getting the Drive Unit to live. You’ll want to confirm with them about whether you are getting a Performance unit or not. Amp REVOLT sells the drive units with driveshaft adapters, and again you’ll want to make sure you know if they have a Performance model or not.
Overall, Tesla Performance Large Rear Drive Units (whew!) are kind of a bargain. They are relatively inexpensive for the horsepower you can create, and they come with an Inverter, Transmission, and Motor all-in-one, in a configuration that can be slotted under the rear (often with a fair bit of modification) of many cars. Some go so far as to use the entire rear suspension setup of the Tesla! If you are looking to benefit from the engineering prowess of a mult-billion dollar EV company at the forefront of innovation, snagging one of these high-horsepower monsters as the basis for your next EV conversion could be the way to go.