The era of the electric car is truly upon us. Once a popular feature of Victorian transportation, the electric engine’s development was stifled in favour of the much more inexpensive (and highly lucrative) combustion motor. Now, thanks to developments in technology and design, as well as a keen global interest in reducing carbon emissions, we are finally seeing a huge resurgence in electric vehicles.
Much of the renewed interest in electrics is credited to Silicon Valley tech mogul Elon Musk and his Tesla Motors. Since introducing their first car in 2008, the Tesla brand proved that it was possible to build attractive electric vehicles that could be both green and rapid without compromising design.
Since then, consumers have been enamoured with the idea of a trendy cars that hold eco and street creds in equal measure; forcing major car manufacturers to join the race for a growing electric market.
At electric cars become more mainstream (and the technology behind is being shared openly), electric custom shops and new brands are surging across the globe. We explore some of the most incredible designs and brands out there:
A Royal Jag
In 2018 Jaguar gifted Prince Harry a bespoke zero emissions classic model called the ‘Jaguar Concept 0’ to drive on the day of wedding to Meghan Markle. As with all things Royal, the car caused enormous public interest around the world and a lead to a major spike in online searches for electric cars.
Interestingly, Jaguar designed the custom electric engine to be able to retrofit any classic in their range, so we should be seeing many more electric classics on our roads soon.
One thing is for certain – seeing the converted classic 1968 Jaguar E Type smoothly drive off with the newlyweds inside was the perfect metaphor for the old meeting new. Body shops, custom houses and major manufacturers alike took note – this is the future.
The Electric Defender
Utilising a 450 horsepower Tesla motor at its core, the collaboration brings an iconic British design into the new era, super charging it to achieve 0-60 MpH in 5 seconds (although there is a 600 horsepower option for speed demons that want to get that down to 3 seconds).
With a range of 125-250 miles (depending on model and usage) this vehicle is set to become the gold standard for upscale SUVs across the globe.
This new electric car marque has the most British origin story out there; founded by English billionaire Jim Ratcliffe it uses the original and much-loved boxy Land Rover Defender as inspiration and is named after the founder’s favourite London pub.
Designed with form and function in mind, the Grenadier is intended as an off-road vehicle that can equally look slick on city streets. Complete with digital screens and all the modern comforts expected from a luxury vehicle, this SUV is surprising inexpensive – at a starting price of £50,000.
Hispano Suiza Carmen
As the heir to the famous Dubonnet French aperitif alcohol empire, André Dubonnet dedicated his time to being a debonair daredevil. Alongside many impressive accomplishments he was celebrated French pilot, race-car driver (for Hispano-Suiza and Bugatti), inventor and a stalwart of Parisienne society in the early 20th Century.
As a celebrated racing driver Dubonnet also had a hand in the design of a few of the vehicles he raced, in particular the Hispano-Suiza Xenia 1938 model. Although the company folded not long after and Dubonnet was unable to race the car, its design has remained iconic in classic car circles.
Now, almost a century later, the cutting edge firm QEV Technologies which powers many of the key Formula-E engines, has revitalised it and reintroduced it with a full electric engine. The result – a sleek and both classic and futuristic take on the original Xenia but renamed Carmen in honour of the debonaire driver’s daughter.