David Beckham buys stake in car electrification company | Business

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Pictures David Beckham in expensive cars were a tabloid staple back in the days when the footballer was a star player, but now his interest has suddenly changed: garbage trucks.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder has acquired a 10% stake in Lunaz, a Silverstone-based company that electrifies classic Rolls-Royce, Jaguar and Range Rover cars. The company now hopes to apply the same engineering logic to garbage trucks and other specialized trucks, giving them a new lease of life when switching from fossil fuels.

The company is part of a small but growing trend for a new battery economy: ditch polluting engines and install batteries and electric motors with zero exhaust emissions.

The appeal to Beckham was evident during a Guardian test drive on Wednesday afternoon near the iconic Silverstone racetrack in the well-padded rear of a 1961 Rolls-Royce Phantom. Electric motors may lack the roar of the engine beloved by gasoline cars, but the smooth and quiet ride they offer lends itself well to a more rarefied ambience of chauffeured luxury. At first glance, 50 years ago, a luxurious interior could be upholstered by hand, but the wooden dials for charging and turning on tell a different story.

New cars with gasoline or diesel engines. will be banned by 2030 in the UK, but the government is unlikely to ban the use of classic cars, regardless of their emissions, while London Ultra Low Emissions Zone excludes historic vehicles. However, the demand for modernization continues to grow in the automotive market. Workshops are springing up across the country to cater to this new class of consumers as batteries finally reach the point where they can be inserted into older models.

The technology is there, but from a financial point of view, it will probably take some time before conversion of mass market vehicles becomes achievable. Lunaz fees for classic models start at £ 245,000 for a Range Rover, making it only affordable for the very wealthy. For the historic Rolls-Royce, those prices are £ 350,000 and up – a lot in terms of the range of bespoke options.

One or two new electric motors take up much less space than the motor, allowing Lunaz to cram custom batteries and everything customers need with new technologies, from air conditioning to power windows, phone chargers and built-in TVs.

Other companies are taking a different approach, buying parts, such as used batteries, from the few EVs that enter the used car market or are retired from accidents. Electrogenic, a classic car converter based in Oxfordshire, said prices could start at £ 30,000 (although they will rise in line with customer demand). Another, Swindon Powertrain, quotes roughly the same for converting an old Mini.

You can remake a Rolls-Royce Phantom or get a garbage truck for about the same price. According to David Lorenz, who founded Lunaz with John Hilton, who won the Formula 1 World Championship three times as Renault’s technical director, the uses are probably very different, but the thinking is remarkably similar.

“When you take these cars, you realize that the new electric car alternative has a higher price tag with the same components,” says Lorenz, standing next to the skeleton of a 2011 diesel-built bin truck that will quickly canceled. outside the city.

Keeping many of the hopper lift components and repairing others means the local council’s cost of switching to electric can be 40% less than buying a new diesel version, Lorenz said. In addition, the cost of electricity is less than a third of the diesel energy equivalent, which means that the total cost of ownership can be very attractive.

Garbage trucks are especially suitable because of their short and predictable routes – the distance between charging points continues to be a limiting factor preventing widespread use of electric trucks. Where engine, fuel tank and exhaust cleaning technologies have previously been used, it is easy to find space for six batteries about the size of a car.

Lunaz only began operations in 2018, and the new location at Silverstone should be capable of handling around 120 vehicles a year. A larger plant is slated to open soon to deal with trucks, and Lunaz hopes to renew 4,000 vehicles a year by 2028.

Beckham is not the only investor whose interest has sparked interest: among other contributors are the owners of the Daily Telegraph, the Barclay family, the billionaire brothers Ruben, the second-richest British Sunday Times, and Alexander Dellal, the son of a family of real estate investors. The size of their investments was not disclosed.

Representatives for Lunaz and Beckham declined to comment on whether the footballer, who was previously photographed driving several Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Porsche models, has actually refined one of his collections using electric technology.

The costs are still prohibitive but they fall… Lorenz says demand is high and EV conversion has a big role to play in the shift away from fossil fuels.

“We have to give up the ‘just buy new’ mentality,” he says. “There are 2 billion cars on this planet. Each of them can be converted to electrical. “

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