Electric vintage cars
VW plans its last fossil fuel engines, Aston Martin retrofits electric motors
SENSITIVE fans of a V8’s fuel-guzzling burble may find the following news disturbing — Volkswagen and Aston Martin are going electric.
Aston Martin Lagonda announced a plan to future-proof increasingly valuable collectible cars with a “reversible” EV powertrain conversion, while VW is making its last generation of internal combustion engines.
Bloomberg quoted Michael Jost, strategy chief for Volkswagen group, who said at an industry conference in Wolfsburg, Germany, that VW’s engineers “are working on the last platform for vehicles that aren’t CO2 neutral”.
“We’re gradually fading out combustion engines to the absolute minimum,” Jost said.
VW is the world’s largest automaker with 12 automotive brands in its stable — from bikes to trucks — and the group has already introduced several electric cars, from the VW Golf to the 2019 Porsche Taycan.
Jost expects the rollout across the 12 brands in its stable to comprise some 15 million vehicles, as the company earmarks $50 billion over the next five years to spend on its transformation to selfdriving, electric cars.
Aston Martin Lagonda is not looking forward with its plans, but backwards in order to save old cars using cassettes.
Only, these cassettes are flat battery packs and electric motors that are fitted in place of the old fossil fuel engine.
Aston Martin claims it is a first, but Mahindra has been converting its cars for frugal drivers in India, while Aston Martin Lagonda plans to do it for wellheeled buyers of collectible cars — starting with a 1970 DB6 MkII Volante, which was originally hand-built at Newport Pagnell.
Sitting on the original engine and gearbox mountings, the cassette is enclosed within its own self-contained cell. Umbilical cords from the power unit then feed the car’s electrical systems. Power management is operated via a dedicated screen, which is “discreetly fitted to the car’s interior”.
Aston Martin said in a statement: “Given the historical significance of these collectors cars, it’s vital any EV conversion is sympathetic to the integrity of the original car.
“The cassette system offers the perfect solution, offering owners the reassurance of knowing their car is futureproofed and socially responsible, yet still an authentic Aston Martin with the abili- ty to reinstate its original powertrain if desired.
Andy Palmer, Aston Martin Lagonda president and group chief executive officer, said of the Heritage EV concept: “We are very aware of the environmental and social pressures that threaten to restrict the use of classic cars in the years to come.
“Our Second Century Plan not only encompasses our new and future models, but also protects our treasured heritage. I believe this not only makes Aston Martin unique, but a truly forwardthinking leader in this field.”
At the local Vintage Sports Cars Club, the response to the advent of quietly humming electric motors instead of the roar of a straight six were met with scorn.
Retired mechanic and one of Wheels’ most avid readers, Mike Smith, said his Jaguar and MG will keep burning fossil fuels until his last breath.
“There is no soul in an electric motor, it does not make you grin when you drive it,” he said.
Having built with Jens Denks the world’s first, only and thus fastest allwheel drive electric-fuel hybrid Atos, and as rider of an electric scooter, I had to differ.
“One gets a very wide grin each time you pass the fuel pumps in an evee,” I told Smith.
Aston Martin plans to usher in the classic electric car, as it did with this 1970 DB6 MkII Volante that has a battery pack in place of the engine.