SHOULD I CONVERT MY CLASSIC TO ELECTRIC?
Posted by Tom Lee on
Making headlines for its silent transportation for last year's hottest royal couple, the E-Type Zero electric conversion by Jaguar Classic was not only a turning point for electric conversions, it was also a topic of discussion for enthusiasts thinking about binning petrol or diesel and adopting electric.
We delve into this topic by looking at the benefits, potential drawbacks and, most importantly, the cost implications of making the change.
SO, WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
You could argue that going electric means better acceleration. Electric motors deliver maximum torque from the beginning of the power delivery, unlike petrol or diesel cars, which must hit a power band (and then a gear change). Gearless electric motors don’t have to do this. As a rule, an electric conversion can help you to make your classic faster, but you’ll have to swap your Top Trump cards from bhp to kwh.
Cost-saving on fuel
Another benefit is a cost-saving on fuel. After you’ve paid for the electric conversion and maybe sold the engine (should you wish), you will save cash every day by running on electricity over petrol or diesel fuel. If you’re a heavy user of your classic, you could see your fuel bill slashed by a larger percentage than if you’re not.
Less to go wrong
There’s less to go wrong. If you have a well-maintained car that you have converted to electric you may well experience fewer hiccups because, in essence, there are fewer moving parts with an electric drivetrain.
Lastly, there’s the environment. With global temperatures reaching alarming levels, you might feel it is high time that you joined the party and did your little bit to help our planet. That might mean going electric.
SO, WHAT ARE THE DRAWBACKS?
Internal combustion engines using conventional fuel are tried-and-tested. They’ve been around since the 1890s – a 130-year history. With the average car taking less than five minutes to fuel and with petrol stations never that far away, swapping to electric-only can cause range anxiety. A driver of a conventionally fueled car does not have the worry that owners of pure electric vehicles (and conversions) have, which is that they might run out of power before they reach their end destinations.
At present there is not the infrastructure in place to power electric vehicles on a large scale. However, with a growing number of public and private charging options and councils and government backing the idea of electrification, this may not be the case in say, 10 years’ time. Only you can decide whether it’s an option that works for you, based on usage, proximity to public charging and your ability to charge at home.
Changing the way that a classic car is powered will mean a change in your V5C certificate and added paperwork. The DVLA will then decide if your car needs to be inspected from a road-going point of view or should it need to be given a new vehicle tax bracket. A change to an electric drivetrain will also mean a change in weight and could affect the seating configuration and boot space too.
Battery capacity and lifespan
Another worry for many EV drivers is the battery capacity and lifespan. Currently an electric drivetrain doesn’t last as long as an internal combustion engine. Of course, the game is constantly changing with this technology and if you have decided to go electric you might well be in danger of putting a ‘VHS’ in your car not fully appreciating that ‘streaming’ is only around the corner.
If you are convinced that electric is here to stay and you’re really serious about converting your classic to run on electric, the elephant in the room will undoubtedly be the cost.
Everything EV offers kits for off-the-shelf cars that cost upwards of £4,500 to convert your car, and can be priced to £7,500, not including the hours nor tools to add this to your classic.
Alternatively, a company such as Electric Classic Cars can just supply you the parts and you can do the work yourself at a reduced cost. This is not a job for rookies, however and those without the skills will probably just hand their vehicles over to the experts at Electric Classic Cars and let them do it at the workshop.
Electric Classic Cars’ prices range from a sub-100-mile range conversion that costs £12,000, to a large 4x4 vehicle with in excess of 200 miles could be as much as £50,000.
Finally, while it’s not just the newlyweds powering up their marital E-Type, did you know that Aston Martin converted the Prince of Wales’ DB6 Volante to be run on disused English white wine? If electricity isn’t your bag, there’s always the humble grape.