London startup adds classic Mini to range of electric conversions
Startup London Electric Cars is making use of old Nissan Leaf powertrains to give a new lease of life to a British icon, offering to bring classic Minis into our upcoming all-electric transport future.
The British Motor Company introduced a new compact car for the masses in August 1959, designed by Sir Alec Issigonis and destined to become a pop culture icon. By the time production ended in 2000, more than five million Minis had been produced – but the name lives on in a new family of vehicles made by BMW, including a battery electric version.
Founded in 2017 in the heart of the UK's capital, London Electric Cars says it's on a mission "to create sustainably-converted classic cars using electric power, with real-life EV mileage predictions based on real-world city driving and in-car usage, such as stereo and heater." The company has already converted a number of British icons to electric drive, including the Land Rover, Morris Minor and Morris Traveller, and has now added the classic Mini to its range.
The basic conversion comes with a 20-kWh battery pack housed in the trunk and under the rear seat, which is made up of pre-owned Nissan Leaf cells. This not only finds a new outlet for existing EV batteries that would otherwise need to be disposed of or recycled, but also cuts the potential environmental negatives of creating brand new battery packs for the company's powertrains.
However that capacity is pretty low by today's production EV standards, though the company reckons that it should get city drivers around 60-70 miles (up to 112 km) of real-world per-charge range, and that could be enough to meet the needs of many inner city drivers. By comparison, the 2022 electric Mini has a per-charge EPA range estimate of only 114 miles (over 180 km) but a Vauxhall/Opel Corsa-e comes with a WLTP range of over 200 miles (330 km).
The converted classic Mini can be topped up from any Type 1 or Type 2 public charger, or via a 13-amp domestic socket, and rapid charging can be optioned in too. The motor installed here also comes from a pre-owned Leaf, and though we don't have any specifics, the company is touting 110 bhp (82 kW) performance. And of course, the electric Minis also benefit from being exempt from (UK) road tax, London's Ultra Low Emission Zone fees and congestion charges.
"As a classic car enthusiast and advocate for affordable and sustainable electric vehicle conversions, it made sense for us to focus on the original Mini," said company founder Matthew Quitter. "Alec Issigonis was one of the most collaborative and free-thinking designers, but also someone who knew how to stick to a budget. With this EV conversion we wanted the classic Mini to be an affordable yet useful option for city dwellers, not just in our home town of London but all over the world to tackle traffic and help put a stop to pollution."
A production-ready Mini conversion has already been driven over 2,000 miles by the company's engineering team in testing, and London Electric Cars has now opened the order books with a starting price of £25,000 (which converts to about US$35,400), but that doesn't include local taxes, shipping or the cost of the donor classic Mini. For an extra £5k, a 33-kWh battery option is available to increase the range from 70 miles to over 110 miles (177 km) per charge.
Conversions are reckoned to take about six weeks, though there is currently a six-month waiting list for new customers. And orders are open to folks outside the UK, too.
Source: London Electric Cars
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