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U.K. Startup Wants to Turn Jaguar and Rolls-Royce Classics into Electric Cars

Jaguar XK120, Rolls-Royce Cloud and Phantom V are the first projects, which will cost $430,000 and up plus the price of the car.

By Mike Duff, Car and Driver

  • U.K. startup Lunaz is taking the electric restomod into high-luxury territory with a program to turn classic Jaguar and Rolls-Royce cars into EVs.
  • There will be modern comforts on board, too, including infotainment, navigation, even Wi-Fi.
  • More interesting is that, equipped with electric motors, the cars could be considerably quicker than the original internal-combustion-engine models.

As big automakers move into electrification for new models, so smaller players are considering how to offer what the software industry would refer to as backward compatibility: converting classics into EVs.

This isn't a new idea, of course. Lots of workshops already offer various grades of electro restomods. But a new outfit in the U.K. is determined to take the idea into a new realm with the promise of ultra-exclusive conversions of high-end classics. Silverstone-based Lunaz has confirmed that it is working on models including a Rolls-Royce Phantom V and a Jaguar XK120 and is now inviting those who want to power their classics on flowing ions rather than gasoline to get in touch.

As with the electric Jaguar E-type Zero which featured in the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and Aston's proposal to create a modular EV powertrain for some of its classic models, Lunaz will replace the internal-combustion engines of classic cars with a new powertrain incorporating both electric motors and a battery pack. We're told that technical details will vary between cars, but the company says its XK120 demonstrator is fitted with an 80.0-kWh battery pack with drive coming from two 188-hp motors working on the same shaft and turning the existing rear differential. With a combined total of 375 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, it should be considerably quicker than the original car.

The plan is to offer regenerative braking, with active monitoring of wheel speed at each corner of the car to make sure this doesn't cause locking up on slippery surfaces. Other modifications will include "modern conveniences such as satellite telecommunications, WiFi, audio-visual entertainment and navigational aids."

While Aston and Jaguar's conversions both weigh almost the same as the original cars, Lunaz admits that its bigger battery packs will add weight. In the case of the XK120, that more than 300 extra pounds, with larger battery packs that give bigger range and will also support fast charging. The company won't say who is supplying its battery cells, but a spokesman told C/D: "These are brand new and of the modern pouch type, made in very large quantities for mainstream automotive applications. We assemble the cells into battery packs in house, and because we are fitting large battery packs with hundreds of cells, the charge current per cell is low and we do not require active cooling."

The company was founded by David Lorenz, who says he wants to make sure that his young daughter is still able to experience classic cars when she grows up. (It is worth noting that the U.K. has no plans to ban existing internal-combustion cars, even as it moves towards wide scale electrification.) The managing director is Jon Hilton, who previously worked for the Renault Formula 1 team and also created his own mechanical KERS company called Flybrid.

Conversion won't be cheap, of course. Lunaz says that it will cost the equivalent of at least $430,000. Also, the work will also damage originality and potentially reduce the value of the donor vehicle. For those able to afford such cars in the first place and keen to show off their green credentials, that is unlikely to be a deal breaker.


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Autos News: U.K. Startup Wants to Turn Jaguar and Rolls-Royce Classics into Electric Cars
U.K. Startup Wants to Turn Jaguar and Rolls-Royce Classics into Electric Cars
Jaguar XK120, Rolls-Royce Cloud and Phantom V are the first projects, which will cost $430,000 and up plus the price of the car.
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