Wednesday, December 1, 2021

UK-based EV retrofitter company looks to grow in the US market

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Justin Lunny, CEO of the UK-based electric vehicle conversion company Everrati, sees his work as more than just taking on iconic vehicles, like the VW Microbus, and giving them an electric powertrain. “Our ethos is about redefining the cars,” Lunny said in an interview with The Verge. “We redefine them as an EV.” After two years in operation, Lunny is finally bringing that ethos to the US in the hopes of tapping into a growing EV conversion market.

No structure is damaged during the process of converting the cars: “To the untrained eye, they look like a beautiful, original Porsche or GT40 or Land Rover… true to the essence of the original, but without any emissions anymore,” Lunny shares.

All conversions are also reversible to retain value. For example, a converted 1991 Porsche can be unbolted and retuned back to its original state. Still, Lunny doesn’t anticipate any customers ever reversing their vehicles back to running gas, but the fact that they can do it was important. “No one will ever do it, but it’s a good thing to show,” Lunny said.

Everrati founders posing in front of a GT40 and a Porsche. Left is Justin Lunny (co-founder and CEO), right is Nick Williams (co-founder and COO)
Image: Everrati

Lunny has a background in building financial-technology companies, selling one of them in 2017. “My passions, however, are cars alongside tech,” he said. To that end, Everrati is mostly a self-funded operation, but it does include some investors. According to Lunny, Everrati is seeing 45 percent of customer interest coming from the US, a place where the company was not initially promoting itself.

The first US orders are coming from high-income areas in California and Florida, in addition to New York and Long Island. All of Everrati’s customers are wealthy tech and auto enthusiasts, with the first customer in the US being a “tech billionaire,” according to Lunny, who won’t share the customer’s identity. He describes Everrati’s main customers more eloquently: “High net-worth, sort of thought leaders, really; they believe in sustainability, but they got style,” he said.

“If you look at the Prius generation and the early Tesla generation… I generally see it [like] this kind of feel for what we are doing now,” Lunny explained. Tesla started off with selling the original Roadster to wealthy individuals first and then used that to make more affordable cars. Lunny sees a similar path for Everrati as it looks to its next round of funding the US: “Whilst I am not going to be the next Elon Musk, I have an idea that… these beautiful cars should be allowed to continue being driven.”

Everrati is a small firm but growing. The company currently stands at 19 employees, two of which were hired in recent weeks. To achieve “OEM high-quality standards” of engineering, Everrati hired several engineers from top manufacturers, including Lotus, McClaren, and a business partner from Mercedes-Benz. It also recently poached Amit Chandarana, vice president and head of commercial for Gettacar, an online used car retailer, to serve as a senior advisor for the US-based operation.

Everrati chooses specific cars and starts with the conversion work. When all the engineering and tooling are complete, the newly electric cars become available to order in the online configurator as a “customizable project.”

Green boxy Land Rover vehicle with a cloth top on a battered concrete slab surrounded by trees

An Everrati electric converted classic Land Rover.
Image: Everrati

If a customer wanted a Porsche 964, they can either bring their own, or Everrati will go find one and then convert it using the process it already built. But it can take time to complete a single project. For example, the process of converting a Land Rover, from development to final product, took 18 months. Everything works as expected, including the speedometer and shifters, which all behave exactly as they would if it were still a gas car.

“If 15 people want a Land Rover, for example, we know that we can build them to the same standard each time, as opposed to 20 different cars coming at different points,” Lunny said. “We kind of production-ize the process.”

Lunny defended the deliberative approach taken by Everrati as what makes the company distinct from the competition. “Dare I say, we are unique in that,” he said. “A lot of other companies will take your car in one day; three months later, you have it back. There’s no — dare I say — testing, security standards… a very different market.”

Electric vehicle conversions of old gas cars seems to be a small but fast-growing market. Companies like Zelectric and EV West are already established in the US and have been converting vehicles for years. Zelectric, in particular, originally started by stuffing Tesla donor parts into classic cars. Even big manufacturers like Ford are getting into the game by reselling Mustang Mach-E motors as drop-in crate motors. Lunny mentions that Ford’s motors are probably good for large American muscle-sized vehicles but does not see Everrati ever using them.

Lunny said the cars that they work on are very iconic and beautiful but acknowledges that they are bad for the environment. “These cars emit their own body weight in CO2 every couple thousand miles,” he said. “As we are moving to clean energy and clean air… lot of people won’t be comfortable with it, I think.”

The starting price of an Everrati converted vehicle is around $200,000, but most cars go for about $500,000. It’s going to go even higher because some customers are bringing in their own classic cars, some of which retail for over $1 million. The long-term goal is to be a real business; Lunny wants Everrati to become an iconic EV brand.

“We start with the high end. The key thing is going to be about quality — it’s about luxury, it’s about beautifully finished almost Concord-standard cars,” he said, “and that’s the first period of time, and of course, then as when we grow that market share we can look to do, possibly, a wider addressable market as the technology and the cost allows us to do.”

Red classic Porsche 911 964 driving on street

Everrati’s electric Porsche 911 (964) Coupe
Image: Everrati

The highest expense for the company is the batteries. Lunny shared that they have a partner company that builds packs based on Everrati’s design and specifications, with cells coming mostly from Chinese battery company Envision and some from LG. Everrati’s building 700-volt, 60kWh battery packs with liquid cooling, which can DC fast charge at up to 80kW via CCS Combo. Charging can take 45 minutes to go from 20 percent to 85 percent, Lunny said.

The GT40 is Everrati’s “home-grown EV supercar” with partner Superformance and the key next step into the US market. “Our next funding round is to solidify our leadership in the UK, we’ve got some real interest in the UK… and have a production base in California” and will be available to order early next year.

But there are cars that even Everrati won’t touch. Like a Porsche 959 with only 700 miles on the speedometer.

“We politely declined,” Lunny said of the customer who requested the conversion, “because we don’t believe that’s the right thing to do.”



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