Our voice of business this month is: David Lorenz, Founder, Lunaz
Right now, worldwide, around two billion vehicles powered by conventional internal combustion engines (ICEs) have reached, or are approaching, the end of their useful lives. Most of them will simply end up as scrap. Quite apart from the waste materials this produces, scrapping can release more embodied carbon than the vehicle’s entire lifetime fuel consumption.
Industries from aerospace to fashion have realised that upcycling – reusing redundant and discarded objects or materials to create new product of higher quality or value than the original – is the way forward. The automotive sector, however, still lags far behind.
We established Lunaz Applied Technologies (LAT) in 2018 to break the environmentally-damaging ‘replace-with-new’ cycle. At our base at Silverstone Technology Park, we developed the Upcycled Electric Vehicle (UEV) concept, in which we replace a redundant vehicle’s ICE with a fully electric powertrain. We started by giving a new lease of life to great classic cars, including Bentley and Rolls-Royce. But we’re also focusing on upcycling an entirely different category of vehicle – the humble refuse truck.
Our full bare-metal restoration and conversion process produces UEVs that are not only cleaner, but also better-equipped than their all-new equivalents; they even come with a full manufacturer’s warranty. And the best news for local taxpayers is that our UEVs are actually cheaper than buying new. Plus, we can tailor the powertrain to suit the truck’s operating patterns: smaller, lighter batteries for those working short, urban routes; bigger batteries for longer, rural runs, for example.
Upcycling also saves more than 80% of the embedded carbon compared to buying new: a recent independent audit showed that our process preserves the equivalent weight of the Eiffel Tower in carbon every year.
All our design, R&D, engineering and production takes place at our state-of-the-art campus at Silverstone Technology Park. It’s the world’s first facility designed for industrial vehicle upcycling, re-engineering and electrification on a significant scale. In the summer of 2022, with support from our investors and the enthusiastic backing of the Buckinghamshire LEP, we added 140,000 sq ft to the original plant we created in 2018. This more than quadrupled the factory’s total area and, crucially, created additional production space specifically for upcycling refuse trucks and other commercial vehicles.
This expansion confirmed Lunaz as a global leader in the rapidly expanding clean-tech sector; we’re also by far the largest employer at Silverstone Technology Park by both physical footprint and headcount. In a wider context, we’re putting our region at the heart of the UK’s emerging clean-air automotive technologies sector. A big part of our mission is to demonstrate that by adopting the principles of the circular economy, British companies can lead the global transition to more less wasteful, more sustainable manufacturing and industrial practices.