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Electric Volvo Amazon combi - the first conversion steps

Volvo Amazon combi
ER Classics Desktop 2022

In the article "Electric Volvo Amazon combiI described the exploration and feasibility of converting my Volvo Amazon combi to fully electric. In this article in the series the first conversion steps are discussed.

De-ICE ing and weighing

After weighing the car as a whole, the stripping could begin. First of all, I have expanded the engine and gearbox. Or the ICE-ing as it is called in electrical conversion terms. ICE stands for Internal Combustion Engine.

Disassemble B20 combustion engine
Disassemble B20 combustion engine

After that, the car was back on the weighing setup. The car weighed 1219 kg in advance. Now I arrived at 333 kg for the front, 585 kg at the rear and therefore a total of 918 kg. At the front it has become 244 kg lighter and at the rear 58 kg, a total of 300 kg lighter.

The increase for the electrical components is around the 420 kg

  • Siemens AC motor = 86 kg
  • DMOC 645 controller = 27,5 kg
  • 90 CALB LiFePO4 batteries = 306 kg

Then the gearbox is added again, so the total expected weight increase was approximately 450 kg. This brings the total to around 1370 kg. The curb weight is originally 1174 kg, so the increase is 196 kg. Even if that were to be 250 kg, 500 kg of the 250 kg payload remains. I planned to put 65 batteries in the back and 25 in the front. Considering I lost more weight in the front than I thought, 60-30 seemed a better distribution. Then the front remains about the same weight and the increase is behind.

Puzzling and fitting

Now that the car was empty, the big puzzle could begin where which electrical components should be placed. Based on the weighting, I came to the conclusion that it was better to place 30 instead of 25 cells in the front. The question is, does that fit? To get an idea of ​​the dimensions of the motor and controller I made dummies from cardboard. The Siemens AC motor is more or less in the same place as the old B20 motor. The biggest issue was where I could put the relatively large controller (DMOC).

Mockup engine, controller, batteries with cardboard.
Mockup engine, controller, batteries with cardboard.

Cardboard is nice for a first indication, but little shape exactly and shape fixed. That's why I was the first to get started with the powertrain.

Upgrade gearbox and engine modification

The Siemens AC motor that I am going to use has a torque of 300 Nm peak in the range of 0 to 3000 revolutions.

Torque curve Siemens AC motor
Torque curve Siemens AC motor

A standard M40 gearbox cannot handle this (long) and the bearings will wear out quickly as a result. That's why I'm going to use an M400 gearbox. This comes from a Volvo 164 and is one of the strongest gearboxes that Volvo used for the rear-wheel drive cars at that time. Moreover, by using this tank I can keep the long gear lever characteristic of the Amazon.

Volvo M400 gearbox with long lever.
Volvo M400 gearbox with long lever.

A special adapter is made to attach the electric motor to the original clutch housing. Not only the gearbox gets an upgrade, the engine is also modified. The Siemens AC motor is equipped with a shaft with splines from the factory.

Siemens AC electric motor
Siemens AC electric motor

However, this has been redesigned and further developed by Garage 71. The shaft is removed from the motor for this purpose, turned and provided with a keyway and a puck. An important advantage is that you now have less height. On the one hand, this is beneficial for the transmission of the forces and at the same time the adapter between the motor and the box becomes thinner and therefore cheaper. In addition, the overall installation length decreases. The end result will then look like this.

Custom Siemens AC motors with adapter and puck.
Custom Siemens AC motors with adapter and puck.

Continue fitting and measuring

Then the whole of the engine and box could be hung in the car.

Fit Siemens electric motor with gearbox.
Fit Siemens electric motor with gearbox.

The good news was that the motor and controller were a lot more compact than my cardboard molds. The cables on the controller turned out to be quite short and the bonnet, despite its convex shape, quite low. This made the controller fit more or less in the front of the original radiator.

Positioning controller in front and space battery box (wooden dummy).
Positioning controller in front and space battery box (wooden dummy).

Engine suspension

Re-using the original Volvo B20 engine mounts was not an option because the Siemens AC engine is slightly wider. That is why I started making a prototype with some corner pieces.

Prototype engine mount
Prototype engine mount

The engine is very slightly under an angle. However, this should be able to compensate for the universal joints of the drive shaft. Using the prototype, Garage71 drew the support and had the parts for this laser cut from 4 mm stainless steel.

In the end we welded the support 'in the work'. This puts the engine in place.

Motor support electric motor
Motor support electric motor

After these first steps of the conversion to electric I started with the restoration of the car. More about that in a next episode of this Electric Volvo Amazon combi conversion series (tag # old volvo-electric) on AM Classic. Want to see a preview or more details in advance? The project can be found at



Leave a Reply
  1. Is a combi Volvo advisable or does this also fit in a sedan 240.
    Inventing the wheel several times is not smart, in other words your modifications, with drawings and specifications, are available to others and if so; what should be in return?

  2. I think it is a beautiful project very beautiful. Would like to know a lot more about this personally.
    I wish you all the best with your project.

  3. good afternoon i have a volvo 240 from 1983 that i want to convert to elektries can you tell me what it costs to convert that gr.Adrie Janssen

  4. Thank you for your response.
    Well, the cost picture, that is indeed the least fun side of the story; it's just expensive. The 15.000 euro is still a conservative estimate. With a modest engine and controller and a battery pack from, for example, a Leaf, you have to make it. But with a somewhat more high-end motor, controller and battery pack you will soon come to the 20 a 25K.
    Indeed, the RDW also sets fairly strict requirements with regard to components to be used. “At your own discretion” is possible, but then there are all kinds of inspections and therefore costs.
    It does make a difference that a Daf is not too heavy a car. In the coming years, more and more parts will come onto the market from scrapped electric production cars, which means that the costs for a do-it-yourself conversion will probably decrease.

  5. I'm curious about the costs,
    Last year a Daf 33 was converted to E-Daf, but the 15000 euro from the project prevents me from converting one of my Dafs.
    The RDW also set quite a few requirements for the use
    components so that it is almost impossible to get something to it
    build your own insight.
    But I wish you every success with the project.

    • tis but 12K Matt, isn't that bad again?
      I have never bought a new car, then this animal may cost a little more. cheaper was really not possible (with RDtW approval)

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