British start-up saves classic cars from landfill by converting them to electric

Classic car enthusiasts will always be able to keep their cars on the road thanks to a UK company giving them a 21st century makeover.

According to the UK Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, there are 40 million vehicles on UK roads.

Many of them are now in conflict with the UK government’s green thinking plans. UK government advisers have said 46% of cars in the UK need to be electric by 2030 to meet UK climate targets. And motorists are already getting up to £ 2,000 (€ 2,345) for scrapping their old polluting cars.

However, a start-up in the UK has been launched to prevent conventional engines from going to the landfill.

At its headquarters in central London, London Electric Cars has replaced the energy-hungry engines of Rover Minis, Land Rovers and Morris Minors with clean energy.

Launched by founder Matthew Quitter, 44, the innovative start-up converts vintage cars into zero-emission vehicles using recycled Nissan Leaf and Tesla batteries.

“I saw companies in California converting cars and at the time nobody in the UK was doing it,” Quitter said.

3D printers and lithium-ion cells

Quit began in 2017 by converting its own 1953 Morris Minor using nine lithium-ion prism cells. He now has a team of 10 people working on conversions.

As every makeover is tailor-made, a car conversion can take up to six months and the price for a conversion starts at £ 25,000 (€ 29,326). However, as electric cars are exempt from congestion charges or road tax in the UK, owners only need to pay for electricity, which means they can get around the City of London at any time. from £ 1 (€ 1.17) per week.

While Quitter’s engineers work with 3D printers and lithium-ion cells, they try to keep the majority of classic car equipment and accessories intact.

“One of the things we try to do is maintain the cars as much as possible for historical integrity,” Quitter said. “Things like the gauges are a little less consistent than say a modern car. But for most classic car owners, it’s the quirkiness they like.”

The fact that older cars didn’t come with modern accessories like power steering or satellite navigation systems made the conversion more affordable as there is less labor involved.

Minis and Land Rovers feature heavily in the team’s makeovers, though more unique cars have also passed through their garage in Lambeth. Engineers have given new life to a Lancia B2, a Bentley T2 and a converted London taxi, formerly owned by business magnate Nubar Gulbenkian for the Peninsula Hotel Group.

Electronics entrepreneur and vintage car enthusiast Roy Campbell, 69, was elated when he realized he could combine his two passions. He bought a 1970s Bond Bug, which London Electric Cars fitted with a Tesla battery in February 2021.

The wedge-shaped micro-car has a fiberglass shell, which encloses the driver with the engine. Campbell said the combination of smoke, noise and heat was not a pleasant experience.

“Now I could just sit there and read the paper. It’s completely silent. The benefits of converting to electric are really overblown with this car,” he said.

Bring conversions to a mass market

While conversions don’t come cheap, Campbell said it still made financial sense for classic car owners.

“The value is always there after. It’s not like you’re throwing money away,” he added.

Campbell plans to take the car on the first electric vehicle rally from London to Brighton on September 18, a 95km ride. The converted Bond Bug can travel 80 km before it needs to be recharged.

Since the launch of London Electric Cars it has been joined in the market by other UK electric conversion companies including Lunaz Design, backed by David Beckham, specializing in converting Rolls-Royce cars from 350 £ 000 (€ 410,487) at its headquarters in Silverstone. , the home of the British F1 Grand Prix.

“There is a big difference between us and other companies,” said Quitter. “We are trying to find a way to bring this to the mass market.”

Quit’s plans to make conversions more accessible include sending conversion kits by mail.

“We can send them the conversion kits to convert their cars and that gives us a much bigger reach,” he said.

The goal of the company is now to make conversions faster.

“We are focusing on getting cars in and out as quickly as possible, reducing [the time it takes to convert the cars] from six months to three months, ”said Quitter.

This story is part of Mobility Week on Euronews. From September 13 to 17, 2021, we explore the trends shaping the future of transportation and personal mobility. See more stories here.

About Nancy Owens

Nancy Owens

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