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Yugo Greg! · 26 August 05

Greg Coleman has been working on an electric conversion project. He was kind enough to let me share details and pictures of the $800 Yugo EV.

Greg Coleman's Yugos

The electric is on the left. Note how much higher it sets…

Update from June ‘05:

I have driven the car home tonight for the first time. Road speed is about 35 mph because of the 5 HP motor. This will do as I drive a backroad with light traffic.

I built the car so inexpensively that the complete conversion cost for materials is under $800.00. It cost me almost $350.00 just to legalize the car…title, license and a windshield. I bought everything off eBay and got all new motor, controller (alltrex) and potentiometer, for 1/3 of what others wanted. For batteries I went with 4 deep cycle from Farm & Fleet on sale for $46.99 each.

Greg's Yugo Adaptor Plate

I have my own machine shop so I made the adapter for $30. Then used a double roller chain with twin sprockets to connect the Baldor motor to the 5 speed trans and no clutch. The car weighed 1800 lbs before the conversion. Now it weighs 1640 lbs.

Range is around 13 miles which works out OK for now. I am looking for a 10 HP motor and putting a bat pack in back seat of Optima (no fumes) batteries when they go on sale again.

I tried to find a bargain charger but they are way too costly, so I built my own. I took a small Sears arc welder that puts out 48 volts when fitted with a full wave bridge rectifier. It wouldn’t bring the pack up quick enough so I added a 12 volt transformer and another full wave bridge rectifier on the side of the original case. Now I get almost 60 volts and charges at 10 amps. Total cost of parts $25.00. I bought the welder and the charger (for the 12volt transformer) at garage sales.

Greg's Motor and Controller

I tried a 100 amp fuse on the pack but blew it on a hill. Now I have a 250 amp slow blow and seems to be fine.

Latest Update 8/26/05:

I did have to add 2 bridge rectifiers in series for EACH transformer but now it charges well.

I now have over 1020 miles on it and just have to add water every 200 miles.

Thanks Greg! Hopefully we can post more pics once he scores a set of Optimas.

If you have a conversion in progress or on the road that you’d like to share with us, drop me a note.

Comments 48
  1. darin    May 26, 2006 19:48 PM    #

    Hi Greg –
    Can you explain what I’m seeing in the image of your Baldor motor on this page:


    It looks like there’s chain wrapped around the end of your motor shaft.

    I’m trying to think of an easy way to offset my oversize drive motor from the input shaft of my transaxle (because there isn’t enough clearance for the half-shaft axle that runs back “behind” the motor), and I immediately thought of that picture and wondered if your chain was doing something similar – IE engaging a cog on your transaxle’s input shaft so you could offset the drive motor?

    thanks! Darin

  2. — Greg Coleman    May 26, 2006 22:13 PM    #

    Hi, the chain is just the link between two sprockets. This is a direct link to the input shaft on the transaxle.
    I thought I might have a problem with the axle, behind the motor, but the axle is far enough back that this motor clears it with room to spare. A chain drive as you might need to move your motor may be hard to do as there would be a need for access to it to hook it up and a support bearing for the trans shaft to offset the side pressure. What diameter is your motor?

  3. darin    May 27, 2006 12:59 PM    #

    Thanks for the reply, Greg.

    So the chain is what’s holding together the two halves of your motor-to-tranny shaft coupler? If so, a bit of play there gives you extra alignment tolerance too. Nice.

    My clearance problems are with the 12 inch diameter motor. (For reference, the flywheel on the ICE is more like 10 inches.)

    It looks like the path of least resistance is to abandon the big motor and use one of the 8 inch pump motors.

    The disadvantages with that approach are:

    – the big motor has field weakening – i’ll be losing that; – the controller is a better match for the big motor; – the pump motor has an internal splined shaft, and the corresponding stub I have from the pump itself is only 7/16 where it necks down – not sure if it’s up to the task; – the pump motor has no tail shaft, so i lose the option of running accessories and/or dreaming about regen :)

    On the plus side:

    – the pump motor will be easier to fit in all dimensions; – it’s about 125 lbs lighter than the drive motor
  4. — brian    May 15, 2007 22:02 PM    #

    i am interested to get in touch with the guy that converted the 800$ yugo ev. i would like to convert my car.

  5. Danny    May 29, 2007 14:52 PM    #

    Greg, congratulations, this is really amazing. Greetings from Serbia, the home country of Yugo :)

  6. J4N    Jun 02, 2007 10:20 AM    #

    nice work man!
    greets from germany.

  7. fred    Jun 11, 2007 00:43 AM    #

    could you do a solar roof for a trickle charge for the batteries while it sits in a parking lot all day?

  8. — Greg Coleman    Jul 08, 2007 23:52 PM    #

    Fred, I could but the ends of my trips have a convenient 120-volt plug in.

  9. — Tim Gill    Sep 14, 2007 12:57 PM    #

    Can you give me an update on your car? total miles? I’m thinking of converting a Fiero.


  10. — Mr V    Sep 15, 2007 13:07 PM    #

    What kind of Baldor motor was used? Can a Baldor 3 phase industrial motor work for an EV conversion? (I can get my hands on an M2515T)

  11. — Greg Coleman    Sep 16, 2007 00:02 AM    #

    The Baldor motor was from a fork lift. it series wound, single phase I believe. The miles on it right now is 1660, as I just started to drive it home on a regular basis, since the 72 volt upgrade.

  12. Andy Ward (UK)    Sep 24, 2007 07:37 AM    #

    Hi Greg.Just surfed onto your site looking for info to convert my VW Scirocco to run on the old electrickery !.I intend to use motors,batteries and relays from an old electric milk float and then use the car to raise money for charity once it is done as well as raise awareness of the advantages of electric vehicles.Do you know anyone who has converted a front wheel drive car ?.I need a range of 45+ Miles and a speed of 50Mph…is it possible ?.Cheers.Andy

  13. — James May    Sep 24, 2007 11:56 AM    #

    Hi Andy

    Where are you in the UK?

    Have you tried speaking to Robert at http://www.avt.uk.com/
    He might be able to help you. Especially good if you live in the south-west. He supplied my EV. It’s a converted Rover Metro

    If you are in Scotland you could call Greg. http://www.go-ev.co.uk

    James (Coventry UK)

  14. — John R. Wilkins    Oct 02, 2007 14:23 PM    #

    Dear Greg,

    I was wonderinmg if you have a YUGO EV for selling and sendinmg it to Chile in South America, and also which would the price be ?

    Awaiting your quick response, I remain yours sincerely,

    John R. Wilkins

  15. — Greg Coleman    Oct 05, 2007 01:06 AM    #

    Not at this time. I am trying to buy another one near here, but it is too nice to convert.
    I have no idea what the cost would be to ship one to you.
    Aren’t there some small cars already there to convert?

  16. — Phil    Nov 27, 2007 10:49 AM    #

    How do the F&F Batts do? Can you get a 25 mile range now?

  17. — Arnold Phaisano    Feb 09, 2008 08:16 AM    #

    Can you please post some pictures on how you couple the electric motor to the transmission. Or if you prefer, you could just do a drawing of the system.

    Thank you

  18. — Greg Coleman    Feb 26, 2008 00:34 AM    #

    I put some pictures of the connector I made, on the http://www.evalbum.com/
    I now have a good 72 volt pack and will be driving it everyday, as soon as the snow goes away )4-6” more tonight).

  19. — Greg Coleman    Mar 03, 2008 12:28 PM    #

    news: I’ve decided to go back to petrol again. The electric car didnt turn out to be what I wanted. I will be selling it whole to whoever gets me the right price. mail me at my page. Thanks for all the support!

  20. — James May    Mar 03, 2008 18:11 PM    #

    Don’t be a stranger here Greg!


  21. — Greg Coleman    Mar 08, 2008 01:53 AM    #

    Quote“news: I’ve decided to go back to petrol again.
    The electric car didnt turn out to be what I wanted. I will be selling it whole to whoever gets me the right price. mail me at my page. Thanks for all the support!”

    Someone posted as me!!!
    I am NOT going to get out of running my Yugo, or selling it.

  22. — Greg Coleman    Mar 08, 2008 01:56 AM    #

    And I wouldn’t use the word PETROL, to the idiot that put that information on here.

  23. Jer    Mar 08, 2008 10:00 AM    #

    That was pretty strange. Glad to hear it wasn’t you, Greg. I’ve lined-out the comment.

    BTW, the IP address for the fake Greg resolves to: Broward County Public Schools, Tallahassee Florida

  24. — James May    Mar 08, 2008 12:24 PM    #

    I couldn’t understand it, just figured you must have had a bad experience or something. Glad it’s not true!

  25. — Greg Coleman    Mar 09, 2008 00:59 AM    #

    Me too. I am experimenting with the new battery pack tonight.
    I have it on the charger for 2 hours and then will put it on for one more hour in the morning, while doing chores and breakfast.
    It is 10 degrees F tonight and want to see how the pack works when I go to my shop in town.

  26. — James May    Mar 09, 2008 06:47 AM    #

    If it’s a flooded pack, keep it well vented!

    I’m currently searching for a donor car for my next project. It currently looks as if it’ll be another Rover Metro. I’ll be moving away from flooded batteries. I’m planning a smaller and lighter pack. My car will be more like yours.

  27. — Greg Coleman    Mar 12, 2008 01:10 AM    #

    Well, it was cold this morning, but the pack was warmed just enough by the last bit of charge to go to town in fine shape.
    Ran it home tonight and had 74.5 volts left. The pack is coming up fine. It is under the hood, so no vents needed. Charger is in the rear seat area.

  28. — James May    Mar 12, 2008 09:27 AM    #

    Hi Greg

    With flooded batteries it’s possible for there to be enough hydrogen given off under the hood under charging to be a fire risk.
    Its worth actively venting it if there it any doubt.

  29. — Greg Coleman    Mar 13, 2008 00:30 AM    #

    That is true if you are gassing the pack a lot. I usually charge at a lesser rate and not much gassing. You can’t even smell any gas from it.
    But, famous last words…
    Thanks for the caution…

  30. — kevin Divine    May 10, 2008 13:50 PM    #

    Hi, I am in boise Idaho: USA, and I have a 1982 VW rabbit, I am junking the motor and planning on running all electic from a electirc fork lift. However, I have a automatic FRONt WHEEL DRIVE car, and I am simply curious as to how I adapt the motor to an automatic transmission without ruinig the tranny!??!?
    do I simply adapt the output spline on the motor to the torque convertor; like if I still had the regular gas powered motor still in the car? makes sense to me. Other than fabricating the adapter plate to mate the motor to the tranny, I have all the necessary parts from the electric fork lift to make this thing ZOOOM!! any input?? I am a 14 year ASE certified auto mechanic, and am familiar with electrical, but this is a whole new project for me!!! send an email to clubvippass@hotmail.com

  31. — Greg Coleman    May 10, 2008 23:04 PM    #

    You can adapt the motor to the original flexplate and run the auto as if still ICE powered, but you will have to idle the motor around 300 rpm to keep fluid pressure up while at a stop sign.
    I would use the idle solenoid from a carburetot on the pot to set an idle speed.
    You could put a pressure gauge on the trans pump pressure tap and then set the idle to enough that you can put the trans in gear and feel it engage.
    I wouldn’t worry about a cooler for the trans as it won’t make enough heat to bother anything.
    I used to run a Powerglide with just a loop in the cooler line and it never bothered.

  32. — Greg Coleman    May 11, 2008 01:16 AM    #

    On an added note, the F&F 12 volt 24MDCs are not the best battery for an EV.
    They are only 95AH and really need a GOOD charger to live for a couple years.
    I am thinking of Trojan 8 volts next time. It would only be 3 more batteries. I have also been toying with adding a 12 volt power tool bat in parallel with each of the 6 LAs that I have now.
    Experimenting with alternatives to Lith-ion.

  33. — Claude Larose    Jun 06, 2008 17:21 PM    #

    I have an idea but don’t know where to start, I drive a 2000 Volvo S70 FWD, since this car was also available as an AWD and the frame is the same I am wondering if/how I could adapt an electric motor to the rear axle drive shaft if I get the AWD rear axle to replace the existing one.

  34. — joel    Jun 06, 2008 20:14 PM    #

    I think its very possible if it comes awd all you need is a rear suspension & drive line all the way to the drive shaft , however you will need a huge torque motor sine the dire ratio is small, or another transmissions to use. if your use the awd transmission you will still have front driveline to take care off. so if you use the R WD, connected at drive shaft you will need a decent zize motor, or perhaps a underdrive tranny look it up an underdrive trans is a trans that only has a 1:1 and something like a 1:4, so you can take offthen switch to 1:1

  35. — joel    Jun 06, 2008 20:23 PM    #

    and you can use a auto tranny just plug n play, attach motor to the torke converter n thats it. i have a ice engine and i start it with a switch. i start it in drive ALL the time and so far2 yrs and nothing wrong with anything just make sure when you start you start slow until the tranny engages gear. then ur good to go

  36. — Greg Coleman    Jun 07, 2008 22:44 PM    #

    Starting ANY car in drive, is not a good idea. I would suggest you either adapt your automatic as described or find a regular stick trans. Depending on what your rearend ratio is, either trans is good for varying road conditions, also makes reverse easier.

  37. David H    Jun 26, 2008 11:06 AM    #

    I am adapting my automatic and I have everything all figured out and am waiting for the coupler. I can’t start my car in drive because it’s electronically controlled and will not allow it. If the transmission looses pressure, it disengages and WILL NOT engage until it is placed into Park and started back up. Idling is the way to go and really doesn’t use a whole lot of power.

  38. — Joe    Jul 22, 2008 09:19 AM    #

    This is great! I am from the eastern USA and I now live in Croatia (in the former Yugoslavia, home of the Yugo!). There must be 100’s of these old Yugo cars here and I could get a broken one very cheaply. I am tired of paying 8$ a gallon for gas (no lie). Time to go electric. Thanks for posting your story.

  39. — dave mudge    Jul 26, 2008 23:48 PM    #

    Thanks for sharing all of this info. I am thinking about converting a small pick-up truck. I would need about a 40 mile range twice a day but I can recharge while at work. Would it be better to buy the donor truck with an automatic transmission or a manual? Any favorite models of truck? Is one brand more suited to conversion than another?
    Thanks, dave m

  40. — Mark Colebank    Aug 02, 2008 06:45 AM    #

    Good day I am a real estate agent in south africa, my hobby is to build kit cars. I visited www.electric7.com. I am very very interested but I dont want to build a car that can only go around the block. I want to build it for a range of at least 70km. Do you have a formula of battery power to car weigh and motor size OR maybe help me get an idea to work out my range to ensure I salvage the correct e-motor and batteries . My Car will only weigh about 230kg but that is with out e-motor and no batteries.

    Thanks so much
    P.S Great site

  41. — Chris in MN    Sep 27, 2008 09:37 AM    #

    I have an old E250 Extended Econline van that still runs, but the motor may quit any day. I deliver telephone books and newspapers with it. I cannot find anyone that has converted a vehicle like this. How to you determine DC MOTOR size and battery requirements? Is there a formula? Anyway, the van could carry a couple tons of batteries. I read elsewhere that 700 pounds of batteries equals 1 gallon of gas. I burn about 4 gallons per day. So 2800 pounds of batteries would be possible. There is plenty of room. Thanks.

  42. — EVdude    Sep 27, 2008 19:36 PM    #

    You are correct when you say that 700 pounds of batteries is equal to on gallon of gas. the problem with that is that the more the van weighs the more electricity it uses so you might need to look into weight saving equipment.

  43. myazek    Oct 01, 2008 13:13 PM    #

    I am thinnking about converting one of the japanese mini thrucks they are bringing into the US now for offroad use. I am told if I made it electric I could get it licensed as a homebuilt. ICE is 40 HP vehicle weight as it sits right now about 1500 pounds U.S. How much motor do you think I need? I was looking to go 72 or 96 volts.

  44. — martin    Mar 19, 2009 17:49 PM    #

    hi all, i am looking at converting a suzuki vitara.can anyone help on the type/size of motor and batteries – nead to cover a commute of 35 to 40 miles – thats school work and shops and would like to get 55mph .
    read a book and blew my mind, help.

  45. — DanP.    Mar 20, 2009 05:53 AM    #

    2001 Vitara JLS Hard Top Utility Performance Specs Performance Overview – 1,999 cc 2 liters 4 in-line engine with 84.1 mm bore, 90 mm stroke, 9.3 compression ratio, double overhead cam and four valves per cylinder – Unleaded fuel – Fuel economy EPA highway (l/100km): 9.4 – Multi-point injection fuel system – Main 56 liter unleaded fuel tank – Power: SAE and 95 kW , 127 HP @ 6,000 rpm; 134 ft lb , 182 Nm @ 3,000 rpm

  46. — martin    Mar 20, 2009 15:55 PM    #

    dan, thanks, i have a 1.6 soft top and short wheel base, looking at your figures how do these match up with electric motors and is there any simple way of working out the amount of batteries neaded

  47. — DanP.    Mar 20, 2009 23:24 PM    #

    Look for similar configurations and weight.

    Power (kW) = Power (HP) x 0.7457
    Power (HP) = Power (kW) x 1.341

    PS (Pferde Starke) which is a German word means Horse Power and is the BHP (Brake Horse power) of the vehicle.
    eg: 100PS@5500rpm means the vehicle delivers 100bhp of max power when the engine runs at 5500rpm(revolutions per minute); PS and BHP are unit of power.

    NM or KGM are units of torque.
    130NM@2000rpm means the vehicle delivers max torque of 130 NM (Newton meter) at 2000 rpm
    130NM can also be written as 13Kgm (Kilogram meter).

    Knowledge may be power but Google is Great!

  48. — martin    Mar 21, 2009 13:23 PM    #

    thanks for the conversion kw to hp thats a big help and a start in the direction for the motor