Oswald is a black Morris Minor from 1953. But, after having its fossil-fuel-burning heart replaced with a recycled electric motor, it’s as quiet as a mouse. Most other sounds would have been masked by the car’s 68-year-old petrol engine. However, when driving alongside the Thames in London, all you hear are a few creaks and the revving of motorcycles and other passing traffic. Electric vehicles (EVs) are losing their sleek and futuristic look. On a mission to save vintage gas guzzlers from the scrap heap, Matthew Quitter converted Oswald to battery power and founded London Electric Cars in 2017.

The company, which operates out of a garage beneath a railway viaduct in Vauxhall, replaces combustion engines in historic automobiles with electric motors and batteries that would otherwise be discarded. These parts are generally taken from EVs that have been written off by insurance companies but still have working motors and batteries, such as Teslas and Nissan Leafs. Currently, the firm charges roughly £20,000 for each conversion, which is not inexpensive. However, the business claims that it intends to reduce the price to £5,000 to make it more accessible to a wider range of people.

While the UK government presently provides a £2,500 subsidy for the purchase of a new electric vehicle, Mr. Quitter believes that incentives for conversions should be considered as well. “Wasting millions of old petrol and diesel automobiles on our roads is a disgrace, and the governments’ EV discounts encourage scrappage,” he argues.