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Electric spark given to old game viewer vehicles

“I am a workaholic,” says Steve. “It took me a long time to accept and make peace with this but since I did, things became a lot easier on many levels. I live a simple life - I really don't need much either.”

Steve Blatherwick is an environmentalist, entrepreneur, non-conformist, and an unassuming trailblazer like I have never met.

Steve is the owner of Electric Safari Vehicles and EPVA. He and his small group of creative, design and technical geniuses create magic. They refurbish and convert old and tired Defenders and Land Cruisers to electrically powered luxury game viewers.

He was born in Pretoria. Growing up and schooling was a challenge – “did not like the city vibe” – but he eventually joined the Pretoria Chinese School, learned Mandarin and many other interesting things, and flourished. After completing grade 12, he did a barman’s course with the intention of working on a cruise ship. “I became an apprentice in my uncle’s air conditioning business for a while, eventually landing a job building laboratories with extreme capacity, security and management systems for pharmaceutical and other companies,” says Steve.

Steve Blatherwick.

“The red tape and control eventually just got the best of me and I quit. I moved to Mbombela. “I am a workaholic,” says Steve. “It took me a long time to accept and make peace with this but since I did, things became a lot easier on many levels. I live a simple life – I really don’t need much either.”

Fast forward. He started a 4×4 business – learned how to run the business – well, “by the seat of my pants as I had no previous experience”. It grew rapidly though.

Fast forward again – he found himself in London – met a guy who was building an electric Porsche. “All this and with my 4×4 background, there was an immediate interest. He pointed me in the right direction in terms of sourcing the correct parts and so forth and eventually my love for Africa, brought me back and started this project.

Steve with his team.

Three years ago I delivered my first electric Defender to Londolozi Game Reserve.

“My Defenders have excellent power. I use Tesla battery cells to which we install management software that increases life on the cells. Our cooling systems are superb and with a full charge these Defenders and Land Cruisers can do about 180km.” Full charge is achieved within six hours and can be done via solar panels.

“Defenders and Land Cruisers are all over Africa and spare parts are readily available. So our upgrades and refurbished vehicles use the standard mechanicals but the power source now is electric. To source the correct components for the latter is easy. To get everything working requires meticulous attention to detail. It is also quite dangerous as one works with high-voltage batteries and systems. We have however developed our own extremely robust and durable battery management systems which are probably the reason why the demand for our vehicles is growing. And yes, we are at a point where we can actually monitor every single one of our vehicles, no matter where it is located across the world.

“We recently exported our first electric Defender to Gabon. African Parks wants to go electric – we have a customer in Mozambique who wants its tractors to be converted.

“We have just converted a VW Caddy with Golf 6 electronics into an electric powered unit which I am handing over to SPAR. Our Caddy is beating the manufacturer’s version on many levels. All the electronics and so forth are standard spec, but of course,

the big winner here is the large carbon footprint is eliminated by the electric drive system.

Every litre of diesel that you burn produces 3.7kg of carbon. So when one does the calculations changing to electric technology is a no[1]brainer. Converting game viewer vehicles and thus eliminating their carbon footprint within sensitive environments, is, from an environmentalist point of view – once again, a no-brainer.

“At this stage, I’m not making much money; I’m doing it for love… to create win-win for all involved. My team shares my vision. We are doing something that no one else is – our product is considered unique and the best there is, so the product is slowly gaining traction and there are exciting and solid prospects in the pipeline,” concluded Steve.

Should you be interested to know more, you can contact Steve on his email at or

Photos: Supplied

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