Lunaz electrification, or EV Loonies? You decide.
Established in 2018, a Silverstone-based EV conversion specialist possessing a pedigree steeped in prestige and classic marques, as well as leading motorsport developments, is making hay on the back of the fossil fuel ban, as Iain Robertson explains.
Numerous questions surround the recent intention of PM Boris Johnson to ban the sales of fossil-fuelled motor vehicles, including hybrids, by 2035. Yet, it is worth pointing out that it was a statement couched in public relations value and a need for consultation that is still 15 years away from fulfilment, were it to be passed legally in the first place. Inevitably, despite a need for all motorists to wake up to environmental responsibilities, in light of diminishing supplies of oil, the price premium carried currently by EVs will have to be removed, or reduced significantly, to achieve some form of parity with conventional transport.
While a reduction in road transport may resolve the overcrowding on our highways and byways and in our conurbations, the stated intention is divisive, as it insists that the nation will become EV-centred, which is sure to reduce accessibility and affordability significantly. Yet, there are issues related to obtaining enough of the precious metals and materials needed for sufficient battery production, let alone the immense drain on available electricity supplies, for which it is suggested that a further four nuclear power stations would be needed nationally; there is inadequate power in the system.
Although the classic car movement, which does have some might, is much less demanding on fossil fuels due to markedly lower mileages being put onto treasured old machines, even a vastly reduced supply of both petrol and diesel might have a negative impact on that segment of the vehicle market, perhaps driving them off our roads altogether. On that basis, a company like Lunaz Ltd does present a viable alternative using a proprietary electrification pack. Its factory location adjacent to Silverstone Circuit, in Northamptonshire, is based on a ‘centre of technological excellence’, ready access to a ‘test facility’ and heaps of engineering know-how.
According to company boss and technical lead, Jon Hilton, the former Rolls-Royce engineering wizard, who was responsible for developing the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) used by World Sportscars and F1: “The Lunaz solution takes cars that are under threat and gives them new purpose. These cars will be true to the originals in their aesthetic, peerless in their performance and effortless in their day-to-day use. To breathe new life into these classics represents such important engineering.”
Lunaz is a niche business. Lunaz supplies to the needs of the super-rich, whom can afford to pay the basic £350,000 conversion price (not including local taxes and duties). Yet, it is fair to state that some of those people are genuine enthusiasts, to whom a cleaner/greener future must include their classic car choices, without restrictions being applied.
Lunaz commenced working on a 1953 Jaguar XK120 around two years ago, since when it has been tested and proven exhaustively, with the ultimate aim of providing a fully-charged mileage range that is the equivalent of a current EV…although which specific EV is not stated, which presupposes that the Jag will return between 120 and 220-miles using its fast-charging capabilities. The firm employs 35 engineers, craftsmen, designers and electric drivetrain specialists, most of whom have come from the likes of F1, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Jaguar, VW and McLaren, suggesting additionally that its workforce will double by the end of this year to meet customer demand.
In addition to the Jaguar, a 1961 eight-seat Rolls-Royce Phantom V and a 1956 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud are nearing completion ahead of the opening of order books for strictly limited production runs. A 1961 Bentley S3 Continental Flying Spur is also joining the Lunaz collection, in the process adding a third iconic British marque to the company’s stable of electrified classics. It is a clever move in branding alone.
Every electric classic created by Lunaz undergoes total restoration before it is converted to the firm’s proprietary electric powertrain. Modern technological features that include satellite navigation, smartphone connectivity, full climate control and power steering will be integrated sensitively to deliver on the Lunaz promise to create the most sustainable, usable and reliable classic cars in the world. Each model benefits from fast charging capability, regenerative braking and the scope for clients to specify highly unique personalisation, through consultation with a specialist designer. This activity ensures that no two electric classic cars by Lunaz will ever be identical.
The electric Jaguar XK120 by Lunaz benefits from the business’s proprietary electric powertrain. Its battery size is a substantial 80kWh, the equivalent of 516lbs ft of torque from zero engine speed and a maximum power output of 375bhp. The twin electric motors will propel the car from 0-60mph in less than 5.0s, which will demand that chassis modifications are considerable, to tolerate the extra torsional enhancements.
While I congratulate Lunaz, Jon Hilton and his team for their enterprise, the jury is still out on whether or not such conversions are the right thing to do, on some of the more valuable classic cars existing today. In some ways, the activity will extend their driving life expectancy, although the impact on the car’s classic value does not appear to have been measured…which would be exceptionally difficult. While I am sure that the ‘from £350k’ price tag can be justified, whether the vehicle can be future proofed in other ways (such as when battery life has been expunged) is not aired. The bastardisation of a classic car never designed for such forces to be pushed through its construction is sure to raise major questions about longevity, regardless of rebuild integrity.
Perhaps it is just a convenient happenstance that has raised the spirits of a specialist vehicle builder, which is more than willing to underscore the relative urgency and therefore adroitness of its monied niche activities. On the other hand, should the hydrogen fuel cell become the more apposite motive force, perhaps the plans are already in place to continue specialist production along those lines instead.
Conclusion: Is Lunaz a positive force, albeit targeted at a very limited and super-wealthy market niche? Or is it just a lunatic venture that might harbour further reaching and negative values? It is certainly a brief talking point.