A Sustainable Edge: The Little Car Company
We speak exclusively to Ben Hedley, CEO of The Little Car Company about the luxury innovators making sustainable travel timeless and appealing, for new generations and luxury car collectors alike.
Have you seen your clients show a growing interest in sustainable travel?
I think we are all becoming increasingly cognisant of our carbon footprint, and looking for ways to reduce it. We all have an inherent responsibility to do what we can for future generations by making lower carbon choices when it comes to travel. What is reassuring is that the breadth of options is rapidly increasing – it is an incredibly exciting time for electric transport. Electric cars have become interesting and stylish, rather than dull and dowdy.
Tell us about some of the benefits of owning an electric vehicle, particularly from The Little Car Company?
While our vehicles are not yet road legal, they do have the same benefits as other electric vehicles. There is that immediate thrust you get when you floor the accelerator. Our test driver Andy Wallace still describes the cars as “properly quick” and he’s someone who has won Le Mans. They surprise everyone who drives them.
One thing which makes our cars unique is their open-top nature. As far as we know, there isn’t another commercially available convertible electric car at the moment since the original Tesla Roadster went off sale. Which means you appreciate the silence when you’re driving which allows you to enjoy the surroundings, perched up in the fresh air. Before driving the cars many people worry that they will miss the sound of the classic gasoline / petrol motors, but they all come back convinced that the cars would be worse with a little fossil fuel engine. You can concentrate more on the nuances of the driving experience; the steering feel, the delicate feedback from the suspension, the front wheels bobbing around in front of you and the rush of the wind in your face.
We have something we call “the first mile smile”. If a new pilot can drive one of our cars a mile without grinning from ear to ear then I will buy them a bottle of champagne. I’ve not bought one yet.
With the privilege of partnering with elite car manufacturers, what are some of the freedoms in being able to balance style, functionality and sustainable innovation?
We are so honoured to be able to work with these incredible historic brands. What has been lovely is that each of our projects has been a partnership in the truest sense of the word. We get to work with some of the world’s most famous automotive designers at these companies to make sure that the details are perfect.
Obviously the aesthetics of the cars are key, and we want to capture as much detail from the original cars as possible. These are not toys or replicas, they are scale recreations of the originals with an electric powertrain. Every car we do is a limited edition, and they are something we want to last and be passed down the generations. We want to make something so special that in 50 years’ time collectors will proudly show off their Baby II or DB5 Junior to their grandchildren.
So authenticity is our first priority. For example, the Bugatti Baby II has the same solid silver Macaron badge you get on a Bugatti Chiron, just at 75% scale. The suspension geometry is identical to the original Bugatti Type 35, so it handles the same. The dash plaque is the same as the Bugatti Veyron. With the Aston Martin DB5 Junior, it has exactly the same dashboard clock as you would get on your full size DB5 in the 1960s. Even the badges are the same, made by the same company as the originals. These are the things which matter to enthusiasts and collectors.
Your tagline ‘driving the future of the past’ encapsulates the timelessness of the vehicles, as well as the futuristic ege, why are both these factors important?
We want to introduce a new generation to the beautiful cars of the past. Many of these classic cars have become too valuable to enjoy, and we wanted to bring them out to be seen by a new breed of enthusiasts.
We also want to show that electric cars can be fun. On the Venn diagram of vintage car enthusiasts and electric car devotees there is very little overlap at the moment. We think that is a shame, and we want to prove it doesn’t have to be the case. We all need to be considerate of the environment, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy these incredible historic vehicles. We just need to find other ways.
Finally, we want to allow different generations to enjoy these cars together. We have this vision of parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren sharing the love of driving. Spending the day exploring a country estate together in their Aston Martin DB5 Junior, or lapping Goodwood in the Bugatti Baby II.
With the goal to create vehicles across generations, how do you think the sustainable element will help to make The Little Car Company attractive to younger demographics?
I think our children and grandchildren will look back at us and be horrified that we used to run our vehicles on liquified dinosaurs. I think that younger demographics already are. But we’re in a transition period. Internal combustion engines remain the most cost effective and suitable solution for most people, but battery vehicles are catching up fast. And then there are hydrogen fuel cells starting to head towards technological maturity.
Will you consider alternative fuel resources and other forms of sustainable innovation, as you look to the future into new areas of development?
We are already looking at what we can do with the innovative powertrain technology we have developed, and we have a couple of projects already on the drawing board. We are not shy that we are looking to develop an innovative road legal electric vehicle to appeal to a wider audience.
We have some incredibly exciting projects to announce in 2021 when it comes to bringing some iconic cars from the past back to life. Developing these new vehicles has been a dream come true and we can’t wait to show them off to the world.
But as The Little Car Company, we also have a wider responsibility to have one eye firmly on the future, and ask ourselves what we could do to help bring more sustainable transport to the masses. Watch this space.
To register your interest in a Bugatti Baby II or DB5 Junior, visit thelittlecar.co.
"But as The Little Car Company, we also have a wider responsibility to have one eye firmly on the future, and ask ourselves what we could do to help bring more sustainable transport to the masses. Watch this space."