There’s a saying that if a dumb idea works, is it a dumb idea? Well, in the case of this single-cylinder gasoline generator-powered Tesla Model S, yes. It’s very, very dumb, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to know more about it.
YouTube channel Warped Perception has done a lot of wild automotive-related content, and this hacked Tesla might be the wildest yet. The idea behind it was to be able to take a Model S on a 1,600-mile road trip without needing to plug it in. To accomplish this, things got a little more complicated than just running a charging cable from the generator and setting off down the road.
To the credit of Warped Perception, the quality of the build is way above what I was expecting when I clicked the link to watch the video. The generator itself sits in the space where the Tesla’s rear cargo area used to be. It lives in an open-topped diamond plate box to keep weather and fumes out of the car’s cabin.
The generator is wired to a controller, so it behaves more like a hybrid car than an EV with a generator. The motor runs to charge the battery but can compensate for the load of the motors (kind of) without needing to be manually adjusted. The fuel system for the generator is held in the Tesla’s frunk in the form of a fuel cell.
The good news is that technically, the idea was successful in that Warped Perception was able to travel more than their 1,600-mile goal without plugging into a charger, but that’s kind of where the wins stop because the car was still drawing more than the generator would put out. Hence, the generator had to be left on basically constantly to charge the vehicle overnight when parked. That would be ok if it were a quiet generator, but it wasn’t.
To be fair, the generator did get a muffler; only it was a shitty, straight-through eBay-spec motorcycle muffler which did effectively nothing to dampen the sound. The whole video is filled with the toneless blat of a single-cylinder industrial engine screaming its guts out. If I had been stuck at the same hotel as this guy, I’d have burned the car to the ground overnight.
Also, the gas mileage that the generator offered over the trip was significantly worse than what you might expect to see from a somewhat late-model car with a regular four-cylinder engine, and it’s pathetic compared to what you’d get from a used Prius or something.
Still, as a proof of concept, it’s pretty neat, and it’s probably the only way to get your Tesla to shoot flames that’s not going to result in a four-alarm lithium fire, so hats off to Warped Perception, and I’m already looking forward to the next iteration.