Charge ’67 EV Review: Exclusive Style, Premium Price

Crossroads are all the rage in the canine world right now. There’s the Cockapoo, the Springador, the Puggle, and the Labsky; Morkie, Chiweenie and Whoodle. The idea behind these “designer dogs” is that you get a kind of genetic Goldilocks breed, with the best traits from both parents: the loving loyalty of a retriever with the fluffy coat of a poodle, for example.

And what applies to nature might also apply to automotive engineering? Here’s what it looks like, judging by this car: This is the Charge ’67 – and no, it’s not a restored classic with a V8 under the hood. It’s a brand new electric vehicle, redesigned from the ground up as a purpose-built electric car.

The British-made ’67 is a hybrid of two very different gene pools: it has the classic looks of the 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback, the car Steve McQueen drove in his cult cop movie Bullitt; but under the skin it uses the hardware and software of the EV start-up Arrival, which wants to revolutionize the world of commercial vehicles with its electric buses and delivery vans.

A Steve McQueen Mustang crossed with an electric van? This unlikely hybrid dates back to 2015 when Arrival was founded in London by tech entrepreneur Denis Sverdlov. Back then, Sverdlow had a classic Ferrari Dino that was constantly losing oil and breaking down. So he decided to create a new spin-off company that could apply his own modular EV hardware to unreliable classics like his Dino.

Charge Cars was founded in 2016, and Sverdlov then brought Vadim Shagaleev – who previously ran a video-on-demand business – on board to lead his new venture. Starting from scratch with a handful of Arrival engineers, Shagaleev’s first choice as a prototype was his own favorite classic, the Mustang. But after buying an original 1967 car and considering an electric conversion (i.e. removing the existing powertrain and adding a battery and motor), he realized that this approach would not meet his and Sverdlov’s expectations. Old cars are, well… just old, and his classic Mustang was heavy, clunky, and rusty.

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So Shagaleev did his research and struck gold: he discovered a company in the US that was making brand new, officially licensed Ford Mustang bodies to serve America’s healthy restoration market. Instead of rebuilding old classics, Charge could suddenly design his new electric vehicle on a blank (albeit Mustang-shaped) piece of paper.

And that’s where a third genetic influence comes into play, because after creating a proof-of-concept prototype, Shagaleev then hired Mark Roberts, the former head of design at British supercar maker McLaren. Joining as Chief Creative Officer in 2020, Roberts not only brought tremendous experience developing cars like the McLaren Senna and Speedtail, he also brought other former colleagues with him, who in turn brought a very McLaren-like approach to the Charge project . “It’s a kind of accuracy, a level of engineering excellence,” explains Roberts when asked about that imported “McLaren-ness.” “We applied the same approach to the surface design of this car – we cleaned up the design and made the lines flow better. Then we developed new lightweight carbon fiber body panels and seamlessly integrated them into the steel body.”

The design team also added contemporary accents like flush door handles and bespoke jewel-like LED headlights and taillights. The result is strikingly modern, minimalist and purist, while retaining the aggressiveness and muscularity of the original 1960s design. It’s a sensational looking car when you see it on the road – surprisingly compact by modern standards, but with a very big presence.

PHOTO: GEORGE WILLIAMS/CHARGE CARS

Skin deep styling

while it still looks Like a Mustang, the car transforms under the skin beyond recognition. This steel body (essentially the cockpit and roof) was stiffened and reinforced, and a gaping hole was machined into the floor. This is then filled with Arrival’s 64kWh battery, encased in a rigid carbon fiber tub and bolted underneath to form the structural floor. Charge expects a range of around 200 miles.

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Front and rear subframes are then attached to the body, containing four 100 kW electric motors, one at each wheel, giving the car a total output of 400 kW (536 hp) and all-wheel drive. The suspension is also brand new, with MacPherson struts at the front and wishbones at the rear, and the car is fitted with AP Racing brakes.

Open the door and you will see that the interior has also been completely redesigned. There’s a three-spoke steering wheel reminiscent of the original Mustang, but otherwise it’s ultra-modern inside, with sports seats, a streamlined dashboard with clean, horizontal air vents, and two screens, one in the cabin and a touchscreen in the middle.

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