This Company is Creating Eco-Friendly Cars from Classic Autos

Japanese Oz Corp converts gas-powered automobiles into vehicles running on electric power.


(Mickeym23 /

Many people want to own electric cars, but they don't like the small boxy look of e-cars. One Japanese company is taking classic cars like the iconic Volkswagen Beetle and converting them into electric vehicles. Now you can have an environmentally friendly car that you can love.

Yokohama-based Oz Corp is owned by automobile lover Osamu Furukawa, 48, who founded a company originally to sell auto parts and to remodel cars when he was in his twenties. At that time, people wanted to upgrade their cars to improve driving performance he told Asahi Shimbun. He has no idea what this would lead to.

When gas-electric hybrids started growing in popularity, Furukawa predicted that the eco-friendly feature would soon be important than engine horsepower or rapid acceleration in the future. He had to decide if his remodeling business would still be relevant in this environmentally charged era.

He quickly decided that changing to a business that turned gasoline-powered cars into electric cars was the way to go. Furukawa bought the parts from a US firm and finished a demonstration vehicle in 2010 and later marketed a kit to remodel mini-vehicles into e-cars.

The major drawback was the price of almost 1 million yen ($9,200). It was not worth it for people to convert ordinary cars.

“I thought additional value must be added to establish the project as a business,” Furukawa told Asahi Shimbun, so he came up with the idea of converting classic vintage cars. He started with Messerschmitt, Isetta, and other classic models and his business grew. But it was still very expensive to do.

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Furukawa decided that it would cheaper to make vehicles that are already electric but had the looks of a classic car; he chose the VW Beetle. The iconic Beetle that was produced for over 50 years until 2003, with its round body and unique sounds has been one of the world's most loved cars.

Now, Oz Corp sells the e-Bug, an electric car that is based on the old version of the Beetle. The exterior and interior are almost identical to the original Beetle. What's different is the sound of the engine because an electric engine is much quieter than a gasoline powered one.

The e-bug's maximum driving range is 70-90 kilometers – shorter if air conditioning is used – and it breaks down considerably less than the classic VW.

“The e-Bug can be called a futuristic classic car because the model boasts the same design as the Beetle in olden days but has the latest eco-friendly features and is not often plagued by mechanical problems, unlike aged vehicles,” Furukawa said.

Prices of the -Bug varies depending on the capacity of the battery and if the car is equipped with a quick charging feature. It starts at 2.65 million yen ($24,476.13).

Furukawa expects that this type of business will take off in Japan. “Few agencies in Japan offer electric car conversion services,” he said. “I want to make the business a well-established genre.”

There are companies across the globe are also converting gasoline cars into electric vehicles. Canadian Electric Vehicles was established in 1991 to convert gasoline and diesel conversions to electric engines. They offer kits and custom build options. London Electric Cars is busy developing kits that will enable anyone to convert their own car. They specialize in land Rovers and Morris Minor.

EVPorsche has two locations in West Palm Beach, Florida and Los Angeles, California. They convert any vehicle, but they specialize in Porsche conversions. Clean Ride Electric Vehicles in Minnesota also restores and electrifies Classic VW Beetles.

So, if Teslas or hybrids are not your thing, you can buy a conversion kit or have your favorite car custom converted to an electric vehicle just about anywhere. Happy motoring.  

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