Is retrofitting the answer to the EV price problem?
There’s no point pretending otherwise: electric cars are still a very new technology and, as a result, they’re expensive. The Nissan Leaf and Kia E-Niro are two of the cheapest models currently available, yet they start at just under, and just over £30,000 respectively. That’s triple what you can pick up a new, entry-level ICE car for.
Fortunately, a French chap named Aymeric Libeau may have a solution for those of us who want to join the EV revolution, but don’t want to be on the hook for 30 large. Libeau is the founder of Transition-One and, as the name suggests, his company plans to take old gas-guzzling cars and converts them into EVs.
The company is still in its very early stages, with Libeau currently seeking investment to build a factory which he claims could churn out 4,000 converted cars a year. Retrofitting old petrol-powered cars with electric powertrains is nothing new, but thus far it’s mostly been limited to high-end projects, like the £300,000 electric Jaguar E-Type that made a cameo in the Royal wedding. By contrast, a conversion from Transition-One would cost a mere 5,000 Euros after government subsidies.
Transition-One’s prototype is a humble 2009 Renault Twingo, now with 112 miles of electric range. The conversion, according to Libeau, is a simple process, taking only one day to complete. It essentially comprises of removing the engine and installing three batteries, a motor and a new dash. The affordable price is achieved by a standardised conversion kit that fits multiple different models, removing the need for any custom work.
There are still question marks surrounding budget EV conversions of this nature, most significantly whether they’ll get government approval required to be deemed road-worthy. But if Libeau’s plans come to fruition, Transition-One’s EV conversions might be a useful answer to the pricing issue that’s preventing many people from going electric.