It’s become popular to take old cars and not only restore them to working condition, but upgrade them with modern features. The Ford Bronco has become a popular subject for this treatment, known as “restomodding.” But Zero Labs took that idea in a different direction, installing an electric powertrain in Ford’s venerable SUV.
The sealed-off grille is a dead giveaway, but other than that, Zero Labs’ creation looks more or less like a stock Bronco. However, some of the body panels are actually carbon fiber, according to Zero Labs. In contrast to the spartan interior of a stock Bronco, the electric version can be fitted with walnut and bamboo trim, and leather upholstery. A “vegan” interior option is also available, according to Zero Labs.
The company uses a stock Bronco chassis, with the gasoline engine replaced by a 369-horsepower electric motor. In an unusual move for an electric car, the motor is mated to a five-speed manual transmission. Multi-speed transmissions aren’t typically used in electric cars, as the abundant torque produced by electric motors makes them largely unnecessary. A 70-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack affords an estimated range of 190 miles, which is more than a base Nissan Leaf. Level 2 AC charging is included, but there is no DC fast-charging option.
The Bronco is known for its off-road capability, and Zero Labs’ electric conversion doesn’t change that. The electric Bronco features “part-time/full four-wheel drive” with an Atlas two-speed transfer case, according to Zero Labs, as well as adjustable Fox coiler shock absorbers. The stock brakes were replaced by upgraded Brembo units that offer more stopping power.
Zero Labs hasn’t disclosed pricing, but said customers can place reservations for free. The company also hasn’t disclosed when production will start, only saying that it will start with 150 “first-edition” vehicles. Zero Labs isn’t the only company fitting old cars with new electric powertrains. Dutch firm Voitures Extravert is doing the same thing with vintage Porsche 911s, and Austria’s Kreisel Electric has converted a variety of vehicles to electric power. If you have patience and sufficient mechanical skills, an electric conversion is something you can do at home.
Ford is planning to relaunch the Bronco in 2020, marking the SUV’s return to showrooms for the first time since 1996. Don’t expect Ford’s new Bronco to be electric, though.