It'd be wrong to say Tesla motor conversions are as common as LS swaps these days, but courageous builders are throwing them in everything they can. Whether a classic Plymouth or a '90s Acura NSX, all sorts of projects are being modernized with electric vehicle tech. This Can-Am Maverick UTV with a Model 3 motor is its own deal, and it absolutely rips through the desert in eery silence.
It's so quiet that you can hear its paddle tires whir through the sand at full tilt. The strange sound is normally drowned out by high-horsepower V8s, or in the case of a stock Maverick X3, a turbocharged three-cylinder. But not here. Have a listen:
Don Swadley is an inventor and owns the battery-powered rig, and he's actually built some unconventional off-roaders before. He famously constructed a Tesla sand truck we covered back in 2018, meaning this UTV is just his latest creation. He applied years of lessons from that project to the Can-Am we're looking at here, from tuning the long-travel suspension with Fox Racing shocks to wiring together an electric drivetrain that can go 125 miles per charge with a little juice left over.
Swadley tapped 10 Chevy Bolt EV batteries that weigh roughly 70 pounds apiece to power the side-by-side. They all feed a single Tesla Model 3 motor in the rear, which keeps the weight down some while also being better for wide-open running in the dunes. It's undoubtedly heavier than a stock Can-Am Maverick X3, which sports a 900cc Rotax engine, but I bet it makes exponentially more twist.
It sports a mix of parts from key players in the electric aftermarket like EV West and Unplugged Performance. SDR Motorsports built the cage and doors for a safer, improved structure, while the big brake kit and rear radius rods are from Extreme Performance. Swadley assembled it himself, chronicling the build on Instagram the entire time.
There's more to a battery and motor conversion than a traditional engine swap, to be sure. You've got to know your way around high-voltage hardware, understand the intricacies of wiring packs in a series, and make everything talk together. Swadley does this well and even made his own portable charger to use at his motorhome. It won't go a full weekend without needing to be plugged in—that much he's honest about—but if you've got access to 50-amp service like many campgrounds provide, it's just as practical as a gas-powered toy.
Plus, it's pretty alien to experience that speed without any sound other than the tires digging in.
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