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Will James Bond be driving an electric Aston Martin?

When thinking about the future of cars, one usually pictures lightweight flying cars that drive you home, activated by a simple voice command. A innovative project is connecting two timelines – past and present – to create a hybrid option that no one has ever thought of; an electric classic car.

Most modern carmakers are actively developing a new range of electric vehicles. This is generating a sizeable waste stream that poses a real challenge for recyclers. As the ban on internal combustion engine vehicle sales looms, currently expected for 2030, the uptake of EVs will further increase.

Modular batteries

The problem is, lithium-ion batteries tend to retire from transport applications when they reach 70-80% capacity. London-based consultancy firm HSSMI is now conducting a study to see if it’s possible to retrofit vintage cars into modern-day electric vehicles so as to extend the battery lifecycle. The electrification project dubbed ‘Cicero’ is being funded by Innovate UK with R&D support from Aspire Engineering, Patrimony EV and Loughborough University.

The concept behind Cicero is straight-forward; tear down used batteries to a modular level and re-structure them for use in a ‘heritage’ vehicle. The consortium argues the ‘uniqueness’ of the project lies in the use of a digital twin, which will enable battery testing to meet end user requirements for a range or power.

Explosive growth

It’s hard, if not impossible, to keep track of all vehicles ever sold. Market analysts believe the number of cars on the road today has easily surpassed 1.5 billion. The explosive growth of the automotive sector has taken big leaps in the last decades; the global fleet grew from around 340 million in 1979 to 670 million in 1996. If this trend continues, we could be driving 2.8 billion vehicles by 2036. 

Meanwhile, the number of light electric vehicles produced globally reached 2.2 million units in 2019. This is 9 % higher than for 2018, a noticeable spike, though not as significant as the +46% and +69% results seen in the last eight years or so. 

Up for auction

The world’s most popular vehicles include the Ford Model T (1908), which was marketed as ‘the first affordable car’; Rolls-Royce Phantom (1925); Cadillac Eldorado (1959); Jaguar E-Type (1961), which Enzo Ferrari called ‘the most beautiful car ever made’; Aston Martin DB5 (1964), which was popularised by the James Bond series; as well as the Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS (1969); and MG MGB Roadster (1980).

Did you know there are a number of old timers that fetched an impressive price at auction? The most expensive vehicles sold to date are;

  • 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO (US$ 70 million)
  • 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 Formula 1 (US$ 29 million)
  • 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 (US$ 22.55 million)
  • 1935 Duesenberg SSJ (US$ 22 million)
  • 1970 Porsche 917K (US$ 14 million)
  • 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider (US$ 19.8 million)
  • 1955 Jaguar D-Type, XKD501 (US$ 21.78 million)

It’s strange to think that some of these golden oldies could re-emerge in society thanks to a retooled battery. But who knows what the future holds…

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