Classic Mini – Modern Twist

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By Chris Pollitt

There is no escaping the fact that electric classic cars are a thing. In fact, within the classic car world, the EV conversion sector is one that is booming. And while we’ll be the first to admit that with some cars, we don’t really get it (after all, the engine is the heart in many cases) there are others that suit it down to the ground. Cars like the original Mini for example. The A Series engine was a plucky little unit, but it’s just an engine. It’s not the heart of a Mini. It’s not a defining feature. The looks of the Mini, and of course, the gigglesome handling however, are. So, binning the old A off in favour of a more modern electric solution actually seems like something of a good idea. Which is probably why the team at London Electric Cars has started doing exactly that. 

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The press release is big on the idea of this being an affordable conversion, but that’s a subjective thing. The conversion starts at £25k, and that doesn’t include the donor car that is to be converted. So really, you need to add another ten onto that. But that’s okay, because you wouldn’t want to spend £25k on a ropy £2,000 rot-box of a Mini, would you? Exactly. 

The EV conversion is aimed squarely at city use, and that’s probably why we like it so much. The classic shape of the Mini is, somewhat ironically, refreshing and new when presented in an urban environment. Modern city cars are soulless blobs painted in pastel colours in a desperate attempt to give them some character. The LEC Mini is, well, it’s a Mini. A cheeky scamp of a car with honest, proper charm. And it’s cool, which we’re assured young city go-getters are all about. 

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It’s also clever in the way it’s engineered, which is a huge selling point. The LEC Mini isn’t full of off-the shelf EV kit. Instead, it reuses what’s already out there. This is good news on the full lifecycle impact front. 

Focusing on the full lifecycle impact of the conversion, and not just the powerplant itself, the team has conducted extensive research, development and independent analysis to prove that by using a pre-owned Nissan Leaf infrastructure (motor and battery cells) it is a more sustainable solution than mining and creating materials for an LEC-only powertrain. The company also has plans to reuse and renew computer hardware and batteries inside traction packs and uses additive manufacturing technologies to assist with the production and engineering of the LEC classic Mini conversions, all conducted from its London-based workshop.

Matthew Quitter, Founder and Managing Director of London Electric Cars said: “As a classic car enthusiast and advocate for affordable and sustainable electric vehicle conversions, it made sense for us [LEC] to focus on the original Mini. [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.

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“There’s also a bigger picture to think of here. With the UK’s announcement of the world’s most ambitious climate change target of a 78% CO2 reduction by 2035, it is clear that combustion engines will soon be a thing of the past. LEC offers an affordable conversion that keeps these British classic cars on the road. The vehicle becomes fast and clean whilst maintaining the originality and appeal that our customers love about a classic car.”

Based in the heart of London, LEC is the only electric car conversion specialist within the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) as well as being the only EV converter based in one of the world’s largest cities. London Electric Cars wants to bring a bit of classic style to a modern need, giving people options that truly represent their individual tastes and styles. No generic boxes need apply.

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Founded in 2017, the company is 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 base 20 kWh LEC classic Mini conversion has a projected range of 60 – 70 miles, with owners having the ability to install a higher kWh motor and upgraded batteries to provide more range at an additional cost. But for city driving, that’s really more than enough. When have you ever covered 70 miles, in one sitting, in London? Or any city for that matter? Drivers can use any Type 1 or Type 2 public charger available country-wide, rapid charging on demand, as well as use their private home wall-box systems and also charge from a domestic 13A socket should they wish.

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We like what’s happening here. Cars like this, by which we mean classics on which their entire identity is based on the engine, are prime candidates for EV conversion. And if these cars can become a regular sight in our towns and cities, it’s nothing but good news. It keeps history alive, but with a modern twist. It will keep classic car passions flowing, and it will be a welcome break within a sea of iD3s, Zoes and Tesla Modelsomethingorothers.

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