A California company named Zelectric Motors is taking classic vehicles, ripping out all the gasoline power bits, and swapping in an electric motor.
And before you protest that you bought your vintage V8 Mustang BECAUSE of the V8—The sound! The power! The chest-thumping!—consider that different doesn’t have to be bad.
What are the benefits of putting electric power in your classic?
Reliability is the primary benefit. CEO David Benardo is a classic car enthusiast who noticed that while the classics are great, they are vulnerable to breakdowns. All those vintage parts degrade over time and have a tendency to fail.
Electric vehicles, however, have about 66 percent fewer parts than gasoline vehicles. An electric’s average of 11,000 parts to a gasoline vehicle’s 30,000 means there’s just a lot less that can go wrong.
Add in the benefit of zero polluting emissions and 100 percent torque from a standstill means that your classic will be lighter, faster, and more reliable.
What’s the downside?
At this point, Zelectric can only produce 10 vehicles per year. We’re hoping that other companies closer to North Carolina (hello, Research Triangle!) will create a simple electric motor that can fit into any vehicle.
Another downside is cost: the base VW Beetle sedan from Zelectric is $68,000, and the Microbus is $130,000. However, that includes a) the vintage vehicle itself, 2) the cost of its restoration, and 3) the gasoline-to-electric conversion.
Won’t Tesla make electric vehicles less expensive though?
Yes! As Tesla and Chevrolet introduce their 200-mile, $30,000 electric vehicles this year, the technology for electric motors should fall precipitously. We’re betting that within five years, the universal electric motor conversion kit we hypothesized above could be inexpensive enough that any car—classic or just old—could be converted into a 200-mile electric for, say, $20,000.
That assumes you bring a car to the table, of course, and that it’s in decent shape. It’s just a crazy dream for now, but with all the traffic that’s coming to the Triangle, it would certainly make for a quieter, cleaner place to live.