Luxury Cars – The firm turning classic cars into new-age EVs
- As the world slowly transitions toward electric cars, many luxury automakers aren’t quite there yet.
- For some, that’s where UK-based firm Lunaz Design comes in.
- Lunaz takes classic cars — Rolls-Royces, Jaguars, Bentleys, and the like — and makes them into EVs.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
There will come a time when cars that use fossil fuels to get around will be a novelty, and our roads will be packed with cars silently flinging passengers along with electricity. But many modern electric cars are, and will continue to be, bound to modern rules and regulations.
In the UK, that’s where Lunaz Design comes in. Its mission is to take some of the finest cars ever to hit the road and futureproof them, for prices starting at about $335,000.
Lunaz Design’s founder, David Lorenz, started the firm after he realized his infant daughter’s generation wouldn’t be able to enjoy — or have the patience for — unreliable, fuel-thirsty classic cars. He wants to ensure that isn’t a hindrance.
In order to make sure that happens, Lorenz hired former Formula One team engineering boss Jon Hilton to come in and design a money-no-object electric powertrain that could be fitted to pretty much any car Lunaz might want to electrify. The custom powertrain boasts 375 horsepower, 516 pound-feet of torque, and an 80 kWh battery pack giving at least 200 miles of range.
When Lunaz decides to electrify a classic, it brings a car in, strips it down, scans it to see where the fresh electric innards can go, and then sets about installing them.
The firm’s first cars (a Jaguar XK120 Coupé, a Bentley Continental S2 Flying Spur, a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, and a Rolls-Royce Phantom V) were for a more specialized audience: those who appreciate taking a red-carpet classic around town on occasion. But when it came to day-to-day driving, Lunaz didn’t have much that would suit. Until now.
Customers wanting to go green but look old school can now have a classic Range Rover with a Lunaz powerplant — still showy, just not to the same degree. And while it was always the plan to electrify them, it wasn’t supposed to happen just yet.
“If you think ‘iconic SUV,’ the first thing you think about is the Range Rover Classic,” Lorenz told Insider. “It’s just such a beautiful car. It’s got relevance, whether you put that car on Rodeo Drive or you put it in a field, the car looks amazing.
“I wasn’t meant to do the Range Rovers next. But it was due to the customer demand, and actually speaking with our current customer base and requests that were coming in, which brought the Range Rover forward. One of them actually asked if he could have a 4×4 built to tow his other classic.”
With customers new and old clamoring for something fully electric to tool around town in, it seems Lunaz is answering a question that mainstream manufacturers are taking a little too long on. Rolls-Royce, for example, is waiting on its modern electric revolution.
“All we’re doing is answering to the consumer base,” Lorenz said. “People want an electric Rolls-Royce. So, I’ve built the company to deliver what I believe the world needs and people want.”
Once the hard bit of figuring out how the powertrain and electrics are going to fit and work within the framework of an old gas-powered car, Lunaz works on the aesthetics. Even though the cars aren’t the same underneath, the company likes to keep them as original as possible.
The untrained eye would simply see an old Range Rover, but if you know what you’re looking for, you’ll see Lunaz’s fingerprints all over it. As EVs usher in a future without traditional manual transmissions, the lack of a manual shifter can be the most obvious.
An expansion to its lineup of cars, however, is only part of the Lunaz story. Silverstone, the UK’s home of motorsport and a huge automotive hub, was where Lorenz opened Lunaz’s first factory when he started the company in 2018. It will always be the firm’s spiritual home, Lorenz said, but it’s time to move on from its original digs as the company is outgrowing them.
His Zoom interview with Insider was the first from the company’s brand-new factory — one that’s five times as large and houses every aspect of the Lunaz build process, which the old building couldn’t do. Eighteen cars will be able to be built at once, with current build times sitting at 10 months. Lorenz plans on making that shorter.
The fact that Lunaz has outgrown its original facility so quickly, and managed to flourish during 2020, is impressive to say the least. But for Lorenz, this seems to be just the beginning of something much bigger.
“We’re just in negotiations on the second factory, which is larger than this factory,” Lorenz said, before revealing that it’s “just shy” of twice the size of Lunaz’s latest facility. “Though I can’t tell you where.”
His focus on British cars in his British factory leads to a suggestion that perhaps his upcoming facility may be both outside of the UK and specialize in vehicles native to its mystery location. He smiled, but remained tight lipped.
With a proprietary electric powertrain that can be fitted to pretty much any vehicle, Lunaz could offer its technology as a crate motor for DIY engine-swappers or other companies — something electric supercar maker Rimac has made an entire business model out of. Or, as Lorenz teased: “The Lunaz group will be applying the technology elsewhere.”
For now, just what the Lunaz Group will be doing is not up for discussion. But it is clear that what started as a way to give his child a future has snowballed into something much, much bigger — even in the middle of a pandemic that’s upended traditional work and sales practices.
“I never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined our sales being done over Zoom,” Lorenz said. “The first time it happened, I was almost shocked that we’d completed a sale over Zoom, because I was only thinking how I would buy a car, wanting to visit the factory. But we’re delivering products that these individuals want.
“I’m really looking forward to the global response once these vehicles are driving hotel customers to different locations or being used in London, or seeing the car charge in Monaco. That’s where I really feel the global response is going to really accelerate.”
Luxury Cars – The firm turning classic cars into new-age EVs