The RBW EV Roadster: An electric vehicle in a classic British car body


If you like the thought and environmental benefits of an electric vehicle, but prefer classic British styling, then the RBW EV Roadster could be for you. James Devonshire caught up with RBW CEO Peter Swain to find out a little more about the battery-powered MGB look-alike…

After three years in development, Staffordshire-based RBW EV Classic Cars has started producing its RBW EV Roadster, an electric vehicle in a classic British car body. Just think, no noise, no rust, no frequent fettling and no need to check your wallet for your roadside assistance membership card before you leave the house.

To keep everything looking and feeling right, the Lichfield manufacturer has partnered with British Motor Heritage and uses original tooling to produce brand new body shells, which are manufactured to the original specifications.

Electric MGB: RBW EV Roadster is the latest electric classic car?

Powering the RBW EV Roadster is a unique platform developed by Continental Engineering Services, which features batteries under the bonnet and an electric motor on the rear axle. This setup provides an engaging, authentic experience to anyone that drives the roadster.

With a top speed of 80mph, a 0-60 time of 8.9 seconds and up to 160 miles on a full charge, the RBW EV Roadster is more than adequate for most classic car fans. Plus, its silent running and zero emissions mean you can drive it wherever you want guilt-free.

Word is that the RBW EV Roadster will set you back £90,000 (plus tax) and can be secured with a £5,000 deposit.

To find out a little more about the EV in classic clothing, The Manufacturer’s James Devonshire sat down with RBW CEO Peter Swain.

JD: “What inspired the RBW EV Roadster?”

Peter Swain: “I was out in my 1966 MG Roadster with my wife in the Cotswolds. As ever the car was getting a lot of attention from foreign tourists. We discussed an upgraded modernised version Jane could drive, which over dinner turned into the idea of an electric sort of ‘plug and play’ classic car. This planted a seed in my mind and I was soon in the workshop trying to work out how to make it happen.

“My background is in electronic security so I fused that with my knowledge of classic cars to form the foundation of what would become the RBW Roadster.

“I designed an initial ‘modular’ system that could be applied to many heritage body shells and existing classic cars to create an electric car that was 100 per cent safe and as reliable as a modern car. I then set about securing the right partners to bring the concept to life, companies such as Continental Engineering Services, Hyperdrive Batteries, as well as many specialist automotive smaller businesses of which the Midlands has many. After four years the system was tested, approved and led to our vehicles having latest safety standards supporting new registrations and been on the road accumulating hundreds of test miles – we were then confident to launch.”

“What benefits does it bring over a typical ‘classic car’?”

“The obvious one is the environmental benefits. We can retain the beauty of a classic yet be sustainable, cost effective, reliable – all the advantages of a modern car.

“The RBW system has been tested and has achieved European Regulation No 100 of the Economic Commission, which confirms RBW as a recognised automotive worldwide manufacturer. So essentially the RBW Roadster is a brand new car with all the elements you’d expect to find but housed in a heritage body shell with style accents that complement the classic era.

“It has bespoke-built front and rear suspension, all independent utilising coil-over damper technology around the vehicle, and OEM developed brakes discs and callipers, with Regen braking also included. It also has the latest generation of hub design and wheel bearing technology installed.

“This makes it reliable and cost effective to run. Unlike converted electric classic cars which take the existing stressed metal and used parts, the RBW Roadster has all brand new parts and components, so the safety aspect is second to none.”

“What challenges have you encountered along the way? And how did you overcome them?”

“The learning curve from concept to production has taken over four years and has been huge with EV systems evolving so quickly. EV technology is moving at a fast pace, capturing technology, yet safely applying and testing is the single biggest challenge.

“We’ve been incredibly lucky to work with such amazing partners who have come on this journey with us and been there every step of the way.

“Additionally, Covid has been a massive challenge, not only for production but we were just about to launch when lockdown hit. So that delayed all the test drives we had booked. But it also meant we sometimes struggled with parts and supplies, and then the IVA paperwork due to backlogs. It is still causing us issues now in terms of getting ready to deliver the first cars to our customers.”

“What’s next for RBW?”

“Our system is always under continual improvement. As well as hand crafting our current orders, we are currently working on developing our first electric race car.  We are also working with various companies who want to adopt our patented system into their vehicles. Add to this a new facility in the UK and one in North America planned 2022, RBW is on track.

“The RBW ‘modular’ system and architecture can be installed into other body shells such as Austin Healey, Jaguar E-Type, Mini, and many more. Each car can be built to the clients’ personal specification and requirements. The opportunities are endless and therefore safeguards the future of classic motoring.”

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