30 years ago, many people came to know about a dinosaur that was called a raptor (full name: velociraptor). It was one of the dinosaurs in The Jurassic Park movie and it was very ferocious and very nasty.

Fast forward to today and people still talk about a raptor – except that they usually do not refer to the dinosaur but an equally ferocious Ford truck. Ford was quick to use the name, capitalising on its image known by the older generation and at the same time building an image of high performance and ruggedness for younger buyers.


The Lamborghini Urus super SUV has been a success for the sportscar maker right from the time it went on sale in 2018. Within the first four years, 20,000 units were sold, making it the company’s best-selling model in the shortest time ever. Last year, of the 9,322 vehicles Lamborghini delivered worldwide, 5,367 of them were the Urus.

For most people, owning an Urus (which presently has an 18-month waiting list) is already something special. But there will be some who still want their luxury SUV to be more unique and are willing to pay the extra money for personalisation.


Toyota, like some of the other top carmakers, has expressed a view that the goal of carbon neutrality to prevent climate change is not a single-solution – going electric with motor vehicles – approach. While they do recognise the importance of moving towards that goal, they feel that the electric-only solution is not practical and is also costly. A choice of solutions that include some existing technologies (improved, of course) is being promoted as a more realistic approach.

Toyota’s President, Akio Toyoda, is very vocal about this and was among the first car company CEOs to state the position. Perhaps that encouraged the CEOs in the other companies to also echo similar views but still committing to increasing production of zero emissions battery electric vehicles (BEVs). They are probably under a lot of pressure to allocate massive funding for BEV R&D and at the same time, they still need to continue some development of combustion engine powertrains.


While cars of the premium luxury brands already possess a measure of exclusivity, there are customers who want to make their car even more special, more personalized. After all, they are already paying a lot so why not go a bit further and make the car truly unique? The carmakers understand this and have divisions to cater for personalization and conversion requests of almost any nature as long as it does not affect safety.

Maserati, for example, has its Fuoriserie personalization program that allows a customer to make his or her vehicle one-of-a-kind. However, the personalization is typically related to materials and accessories which the carmaker may already have or which can be specifically fabricated. And, of course, there are colour choices that are ‘infinite’ and limited only by imagination.

The bodywork is often not changed much to maintain the original design and this is where specialists like Mansory provide customization that can give a sportier or bolder appearance. The latest example of the German company’s offering is for the Maserati MC20 where they can carry out a full conversion to a Mansory First Edition.


Following the announcement a year ago that Lunaz Design was taking orders for its first batch of classic electric Range Rovers, demand has been growing and now accounts for 45% of the marque’s total production. The orders are for two configurations – ‘Town’, which focuses on rear seat and driver comfort, and ‘Country’, which incorporates engineering features that enable ‘better-than-new’ off-roading capability – which will be made in a 70:30.

The company says that the first two units are the most complex Range Rover builds ever undertaken by Lunaz Design. The first is a Long Wheelbase variant in ‘Town’ configuration and the second is a fully open Safari model – the same type that featured in the James Bond film, Octopussy – in ‘Country’ specification.


The Tundra is a pick-up model Toyota developed specially for the North American market and also manufactures it there. As a full-size truck, it is Toyota’s challenger in the world’s largest pick-up truck market. However, because it has been sold almost entirely in North America since being introduced in 1999, it has remained as a lefthand drive (LHD) model, limiting export potential in some ways.

Now Toyota has decided that it will also offer a Tundra with righthand drive (RHD), which means it can become a global model. A RHD variant is not merely a case of moving the driver’s seat and steering wheel to the right side and requires an engineering program that is extensive. It might not be as extensive as developing a brand new model as much of the basic architecture has been done but it is also not as simple as it may seem.

Toyota Tundra 2022

It won’t be the first time that Toyota has converted a LHD model into a RHD one as it also did the same with the Chevrolet Cavalier in the late 1990s. Back then, as a favour to General Motors, Toyota agreed to take the Cavalier and sell it in Japan as a Toyota Cavalier. To do so meant re-engineering it to be RHD, a task which the engineers found challenging. Besides moving the steering wheel to the right side, there were also little details that needed to be altered to conform to Japanese regulations.

This time round, for the Tundra, Toyota is working Walkinshaw Automotive Group and has assigned Toyota Australia to lead the project. Since ending manufacturing activities in Australia in 2017, Toyota has given its Australian operations a role as one of its global R&D centres. With the wide open spaces and varied local terrain, it is an ideal region for testing prototypes.

The RHD Tundra will use components from the Land Cruiser 300.

Parts from Land Cruiser 300
The program with the Walkinshaw Automotive Group is expected to set a new benchmark in Australia for the re-engineering of a full-sized pick-up truck from LHD to RHD. It will include the adoption of key components from Toyota’s comprehensive global parts catalogue, including the steering column and rack, accelerator, brake pedals and shift lever from the Land Cruiser 300 platform, with which the Tundrsa shares the same TNGA platform.

The vehicles will be equipped with a new inline hybrid system that has a twin-turbo 3.5-litre petrol V6 engine.

After significant development in-house, prototype testing on public roads will begin in September 2022. Starting from October next year, approximately 300 vehicles will be deployed all around Australia as part of the final stage of the re-engineering program. These vehicles will not be for sale but will involve monitoring under real-world usage conditions in Australia.

Launch date not confirmed yet
At this time, Toyota is not saying when the Tundra will go on sale, but Australia will be the first market. Due to the brand’s strong demands for quality, durability and reliability, there will be a thorough approval process until all aspects meet the high standards.

The Tundra, now in its third generation, is a huge truck that fits right into the American landscape. It is much larger than a Hilux with a wheelbase that is 1 metre longer. Since the first generation, over 2 million units have been sold and annual sales have never been less than 100,000 units.

‘Electrification’ is the probably the most heavily-used word in the auto industry today. Increasingly stringent emission regulations as well as commitments to become carbon-neutral to address climate change have forced carmakers to accelerate development and production of electric vehicles. Ford is even creating a specific business unit just for electric vehicles. The aim is to fully electrify their product lines by the end of the decade and for some, sales of vehicles with internal combustion engines will cease.

In tandem with this trend, there is also a growing industry where old models are being ‘electrified’. Classic models are having ‘heart transplants’ with their original engines being replaced by electric powertrains. It’s a slowly growing industry which will help preserve classic models of special value and allow them to be driven even in the new era of electrification.

We’ve already written about companies like Everrati and Lunaz carrying out such conversions and another British company called Charge Cars is also getting into the business. The company has an experienced engineering team with members who have contributed to various projects for McLaren Automotive, Jaguar Land Rover and F1 racing teams.

2022 Charge Car Ford Mustang EV

The original Ford Mustang in 1967.

2022 Charge Car Ford Mustang EV

2022 Charge Car Ford Mustang EV

The company has announced its latest ‘restomod’ project to build EVs which is a 499-unit production run of the iconic 1960s Ford Mustang. While some other companies require an existing body and chassis to convert, Charge Cars takes an officially licensed body with the design of the legendary Mustang. The bodyshell (in the fastback style of 1967) is made of composite material but has the necessary engineering to ensure that it is safe and can meet safety requirements for road use.

It’s something like what ACE (a subsidiary of EON) used to do with the TD2000, a model which had the looks of a 1950s MG sportscar but a modern powertrain and chassis. The powertrain was not electric and was a 2-litre petrol engine sourced from Toyota similar to that found in the early RAV4.

2022 Charge Car Ford Mustang EV

2022 Charge Car Ford Mustang EV

So Charge Car basically builds a new Mustang with the 1960s design and fits an electric powertrain into it. It gets two electric motors which presumably are installed at the front and rear as all-wheel drive is mentioned, something which the Mustang has never had. The total system output is 500 kW (equivalent to 680 ps) and up to 1,500 Nm, so it should easily get from 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) within the claimed 3.9 seconds. The battery pack, which can be fast-charged, has a capacity of 64 kWh which is said to be good for up to 320 kms.

2022 Charge Car Ford Mustang EV

2022 Charge Car Ford Mustang EV

2022 Charge Car Ford Mustang EV

Charge Car will personalize the 2-person interior to customers’ requirements and there are various options and accessories to choose from. While the original Mustang had classic meters, the Mustang EV has digital instruments and a tablet-like centre panel which looks like the same idea as in the latest Mustang Mach-E e-SUV.

Each unit, which would be handbuilt, will cost upwards of £350,000 (about RM1.94 million) ex-factory. Orders are now being taken and the first customers will get their cars by the end of this year or early in 2023.

2022 Charge Car Ford Mustang EV

2022 Charge Car Ford Mustang EV

All-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E debuts in Los Angeles, priced from around RM183,000

If Sir Alec Issigonis was designing the original Mini today, chances are it would have an electric motor. When it was launched in 1959, it was not just a little car but one which saved fuel at a time when there was an oil shortage caused by the Suez Crisis. Within its small footprint, creative use was made of the available space to accommodate four persons with their luggage.

The original Mini showed creative use of space in a small car.

Living on in a sustainable way
Although the original Mini was retired and its succeeding generations have charted a new course for the model, many units still exist around the world. With the MINI Recharged project which converts classic Minis to electric drive, the Mini legacy continues in the 21st century in a sustainable way.

The conversion of classic Minis to an electric drive combines traditional values with future-oriented technology. The idea was born even before the carmaker had a fully electric car. As a one-off, a classic Mini Electric was built in 2018 and presented at the New York Auto Show. The reactions were so positive that a dedicated team from MINI Plant Oxford set to work and developed the plan to offer a conversion to those who had the original Mini.

Changes are ‘reversible’ later on
To experience traditional go-kart handling with an emission-free drivetrain, the original petrol engine of the classic Mini is replaced by a modern electric drive. Only reversible changes are made to the substance of the car during the conversion as part of MINI Recharged. Careful handling of the historical heritage is an important part of the concept.

This makes it possible to restore the classic Mini to its original condition at a later date. During the conversion, the original engine of each vehicle is marked and stored so it can be reused in the event of a future retrofit of the classic Mini.

The MINI Recharged project means a vehicle’s life can be extended in a sustainable way. A classic Mini can now be given a new lease of life, accompanying its owner into the future, whilst maintaining its much-loved heritage. The drive is a modern electric motor that generates a continuous output of up to 90 kW and accelerates the electrified classic Mini from 0 to 100 km/h in approximately 9 seconds.

Classic Mini dashboard with meters positioned in the middle but look closely at the meters (below) and you’ll see that they show drive temperature, the selected gear, range and of course, speed.

The energy is supplied by a high-voltage battery pack, which can be charged with an output of up to 6.6 kW for a range estimated to be around 160 kms. In addition, every electrified classic Mini from MINI Recharged receives the characteristic central instrument cluster, familiar since the early days of the model, but with displays showing the drive temperature, the selected gear, range and speed.

A whole new driving experience
The Mini has been well known as loved for its go-kart character and with the MINI Recharged, that zippiness will still be available with instant acceleration and an almost silent drivetrain. And while original Minis with combustion engines cannot enter the electric or low-emission driving zones of many large cities in Europe, this electrified Mini will be allowed to do so. Thus its owners will be able to drive along the streets of London just like the original owners in the Swinging Sixties and once again be part of the cityscape, without the driver having to pay an environmental tax (congestion charge) beforehand.

The original fuel filler point for petrol (inset) is replaced by a charging port on the Mini Recharged.

In addition, the converted car does not need a new registration (such a conversion is not allowed in Malaysia, which the JPJ has made clear). This, in a way, fits in the aspect of circular economy which the BMW Group promotes. For this project, no new vehicles are being produced and are created from much-loved, existing cars. It allows an original Mini to carry on in a second, more sustainable life.

Today, one in five new MINI models has an electrified drive and now the MINI Recharged project will allow the love of the brand’s classic vehicles to become an experience combining the past and the future.

The modern MINI Electric has been available in Malaysia since 2020 and can be purchased tax-free for the next few years.

All-electric MINI makes its debut in Malaysia, priced from RM218,380

During the 1980s, Nissan was among the early Japanese carmakers to begin setting up overseas plants – not plants merely assembling cars but full-fledged factories that carried out the almost all the manufacturing processes. As the brand was very popular in Europe, the company decided to establish a factory there and after considering a few countries, it settled on Britain.

At a former airbase in Sunderland, in the north-eastern corner of England, was chosen for the factory site and operations began from 1986. It has assembled both Nissan and Infiniti models (Q30 and QX30) as well as the LEAF EV since 2012.

Combining past, present and future
Celebrating 35 years of production at the Sunderland plant, Nissan commissioned a very special project which would combine a major past product with the technology of today and tomorrow. Called the ‘Newbird, it is a conversion of the Bluebird model – the first car off the factory’s production line in 1986 – which has its combustion engine replaced by the fully electric drivetrain of a LEAF.

2021 Nissan Newbird EV

The project was managed by Kinghorn Electric Vehicles, a family-run company based in Durham, just 24 kms from the Nissan factory. Kinghorn EV specialises in the conversion of classic cars to full electric using second-life Nissan LEAF motors, inverters & batteries so they are very familiar with the powertrain.

“Electric vehicles are not just the future, they’re the now! Converting older vehicles to electric gives you everyday use of these iconic vintage models, but they’re just as enjoyable to drive. They’re more reliable and, importantly, don’t produce harmful emissions when driving. With this project, we think we’ve created a car that captures the soul of the Nissan Bluebird, with the heart of a Nissan LEAF, said George Kinghorn, owner of the company.

2021 Nissan Newbird EV

Change of heart
The Bluebird was extensively modified to integrate the LEAF’s electric drivetrain. The original petrol combustion engine and gearbox were removed and a LEAF motor, inverter and 40 kWh battery pack installed, with the battery modules split between the engine bay and boot for optimised weight distribution.

2021 Nissan Newbird EV

Updates and modifications were made to the power steering, braking and heating systems to enable them to be electrically powered. A custom suspension was also installed to support the additional weight from the battery packs. To match the car’s electric updates, the original Nissan bonnet badge received a LED backlight (for when the vehicle is static).

For the exterior of the 5-door hatchback car, Nissan Design Europe created a new graphic motif inspired by design cues of 1980s consumer technology, combined with a 21st century aesthetic.

2021 Nissan Newbird EV

The car is recharged through the original fuel flap on the left side which provides access to the charging port. The battery can be recharged at up to 6.6 kW and the original driver instrument panel has been connected to the EV system to enable the fuel gauge to show the charge level in the battery pack.

2021 Nissan Newbird EV

2021 Nissan Newbird EV
As the Bluebird was not originally designed to carry a battery pack, it has to be installed in the boot.

The car’s range from a single charge is estimated to be up to 210 kms and should be able to go from 0 to 100 km/h in under 15 seconds. Given the high torque from start that is characteristic of an electric motor, the performance should be zippier than the original. However, the Newbird is not homologated so it cannot be used on public roads.

Production time halved
In 1986, it took over 22 hours for the first Bluebird to be completed. Today, modern manufacturing processes and technologies have halved that time to 10 hours. To date, after 35 years, the number of vehicles produced by the factory has exceeded 10.5 million. Although some scenarios which suggested manpower would drop with more automation, the number of staff employed at the Nissan factory has grown from 430 in 1986 to 6,000 today.

Nissan Manufacturing UK began operations 35 years ago.

Incidentally, for those who recall the Bluebird being sold in Malaysia, the one in the UK was different. In fact, in the 1980s, Nissan had two Bluebirds produced in different parts of the world and one had front-wheel drive, while the other had rear-wheel drive. So when discussing the model with Nissan executives, one had to first clarify which market was being referred to. The one sold in Malaysia in 1986 was the older one with rear-wheel drive whereas the one built in the UK had switched to the newer front-wheel drive model and was produced in sedan, hatchback and stationwagon bodystyles.

The last Bluebird sold in Malaysia by Edaran Tan Chong Motor was the Bluebird Altima in the 1990s. Nissan officially ended the Bluebird line in 2001 although it did continue with a smaller model called the Sylphy that also carried the Bluebird name.

2021 Nissan Newbird EV

To know more about current Nissan models available in Malaysia, visit www.nissan.com.my.

Nissan to invest £1 billion in establishing Electric Vehicle (EV) Hub as a world-first EV manufacturing ecosystem

In the first 6 months of this year, 1,595 units of Aston Martin’s first SUV and first 5-seater were delivered to customers worldwide, joining the 1,516 units in 2020. That’s not a huge number by global industry standards so it is pretty exclusive (it should be for around RM1 million each) even if you get one in ‘standard’ form. But in that stratospheric segment, most customers want more exclusivity and personalisation, so the carmakers have special divisions to cater to such needs.

For those who prefer not to use the services of the carmaker, there are also companies that specialise in personalisation of any motor vehicle – in appearance, in fittings and even in upgrading performance. In recent years, such companies have given attention to SUVs, which even the luxury brands could not ignore.

MANSORY Aston Martin DBX 2021
MANSORY’s complete conversion package gives a more aggressive look to the standard DBX (below) while still maintaing the recognisable form.

One of them is MANSORY, the 32-year old car modification firm based in Germany. MANSORY has already done a number of luxury SUVs and now with Aston Martin’s DBX also in the market, it offers a more exclusive model for those who must be different.

The company has developed a complete conversion for the SUV which includes upgrading of the engine by the Performance Department. The V8 twin-turbo engine of the DBX has its engine management system replaced and new and larger turbochargers are also installed. For better efficiency, a sports air filter and high-performance sports exhaust system are also installed.

MANSORY Aston Martin DBX 2021

The exhaust system is offered in two versions for customers to choose. They differ recognisably in the positioning of the tailpipes; either located in the area of the standard rear apron opening, or terminating as closely spaced double pipes in the middle of the carbonfibre rear apron.

After this engine conversion, the output rises to 800 ps from the standard 550 ps while torque hits 1,000 Nm, about 43% more than standard. This improves performance to a maximum speed of 325 km/h and 0 to 100 km/in a short 3.8 seconds (according to MANSORY’S tests).

MANSORY Aston Martin DBX 2021

The high-speed performance is helped by the refined aerodynamics of the vehicle. This results in an impressive wide-body styling in combination with optimised aerodynamics with increased downforce for significantly improved cornering performance at higher speeds. For this purpose, the front of the DBX is redesigned with a completely new apron including an integrated front lip made of carbonfibre. The ultra-light and painted carbonfibre bonnet with additional cooling air outlets (visible carbon) revises the front section.

On the flanks, MANSORY-designed extensions continue the design language and make the DBX look significantly more powerful, but also lower and more elongated. To increase the downforce on the rear axle, the engineers developed a special spoiler for mounting on the tailgate and a matching roof spoiler – both of which take up the design language of the standard tear-off edge of the tailgate and are also made entirely of carbonfibre.

MANSORY Aston Martin DBX 2021

In addition, a new rear apron with diffuser skilfully sets off the striking tailpipes of the sports exhaust system. Numerous carbonfibre components such as trim strips, mirror housings and air intake trims add further striking highlights, some of which are further accentuated with accents in the special Limegreen colour.

The DBX also features a new wheel design called ‘DX.5’ in 24×10 inch (front) and 24×12.5 inch (rear) dimensions with matching 295/30R24 and 355/25R24 tyre sizes. The rim design optimises ventilation of the brake system on the one hand and emphasises the car’s dynamic appearance.

MANSORY Aston Martin DBX 2021

These not only fill out the front and rear wheel arches coherently, but also combine both sportiness and technical elegance in the best possible way. The colour scheme of the rims was chosen to match the overall colour concept of the car – black and Limegreen.

MANSORY Aston Martin DBX 2021

MANSORY Aston Martin DBX 2021

The interior – matching the exterior design – is kept entirely in black. The Limegreen colour used to accentuate details on the exterior is also found in many places in the interior. The edging of the floor mats, the seats, the centre console, the decorative stitching on the dashboard and the sports  steering wheel are all finished in this colour. Individually embroidered floor mats, the use of fine visible carbonfibre and the covering of almost all surfaces with the finest leather add further highlights to the handcrafted interior.

MANSORY Aston Martin DBX 2021

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