This vintage Ford Bronco off-roader has a modern electric powertrain

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.

Product Review

Want an electric car that doesn't look like an electric car? Meet Audi's E-Tron

The 2019 Audi E-Tron is the German automaker’s first series-production electric car. Rather than make a bold statement with its first electric vehicle, Audi chose to make the E-Tron as much like its other cars as possible.

Parents will never miss soccer practice with BMW’s new 523-horsepower SUVs

BMW is launching M Performance versions of its biggest SUVs, the X5 and X7. While not full-on M models, they do pack 523-horsepower twin-turbo V8 engines, allowing both SUVs to sprint from zero to 60 mph in under five seconds.

GM thinks up new electronic brain for its cars, allowing over-the-air updates

General Motors is launching a new electrical architecture to support more tech features in its cars. The system debuts on the 2020 Cadillac CT5, and will roll out to most other GM models by 2023.

Ford gears up to build rugged, capable hybrid trucks and SUVs

Ford is planning to put hybrid powertrains into big trucks and SUVs, and doesn't want to sacrifice things like towing capacity and off-road capability. A new hybrid system may help do that.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickup lets you see through trailers — sort of

The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickup truck gets a handful of updates for the new model year, including a transparent trailer camera system and a big boost in maximum towing capacity.

Insiders claim the Tesla Model S nearly became the long-rumored Apple car

Apple offered to buy Tesla in 2013, according to an analyst who spoke to people familiar with the talks. Apple made Tesla a great offer, but the deal fell through when Elon Musk refused to step away from the company he helped found.
Product Review

Hyundai’s luxurious Tucson suffocates you with more – in a good way

The refreshed 2019 Hyundai Tucson may be one of the more affordable compact SUVs on the market, but there are more safety features than before as standard, as well as a hint of luxury.

Don’t trust Tesla’s new autonomous lane-changing feature, Consumer Reports warns

Consumer Reports warns that last month's Autopilot updates that enabled automatic lane changing may put you at risk of a ticket or accident. Reaction times lagged what a human could do, testers say.

Texas awaits one signature to put a statewide stop to red light cameras

When Texas Governor Greg Abbott signs state House Bill 1631 into law, he will bring a halt to red light cameras in the state. The central issue in the bill's passage is the presumption of guilt of the registered owner of the car.

EV owners may still need to stop at a Chevron station, but not to buy gasoline

EVgo, the operator of a sizable network of electric car charging stations, has partnered with Chevron. Five Chevron stations located in California will install EVgo chargers that electric car owners can pay to use.

Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV tries to balance power and efficiency with mild-hybrid V8

The redesigned Mercedes-Benz GLE will get a V8 mild-hybrid powertrain when it launches in the United States later in 2019. The 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 makes 483 hp on its own, but can also get a 21 hp electric boost.

Audi TT will get the ax to make way for electric cars — and the R8 may be next

Once a design leader, the Audi TT will meet its demise to make room in Audi's lineup for more electric cars. Audi executives confirmed plans to kill off the TT at the automaker's annual shareholder meeting.

Honda recalls 119,000 2019 CR-V crossovers over fears of airbag deployment

A manufacturing defect in select 2019 Honda CR-V crossovers could cause the airbag to malfunction and unexpectedly deploy, leading the automaker to recall some 137,000 vehicles worldwide, 118,598 of them in the U.S.

Cadillac confirms V-Series performance versions of the CT5 and CT4

Cadillac will unveil CT5-V and CT4-V sports sedans in Detroit May 30. They will be the latest cars in the General Motors luxury brand's V-Series performance line, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.