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You know, there is a cheaper way to get into an electric vehicle than to buy it new or used. And we’re not talking about leasing or renting it, either. Where we’re going with this is to have your car or truck converted to electric power. Not now, it’s still too expensive to even do that.

If not now, then when will retrofitting to make an electric vehicle be cheaper?

classic trucks
Classic trucks ripe for retrofitting to electric power | Getty

Soon, numerous companies are looking to scale up retrofitting, which will bring the costs way down. Right now, a French company called Transition-One wants to scale up its operations to do massive amounts of EV conversions. Especially in Europe, where gas vehicles are being legislated off the roads, it makes sense for most people who can’t, or don’t, want to step up to a $30,000-plus EV. 

Both European regulations, but also municipal regulations, are beginning to ban gas and diesel-powered vehicles from city centers. And there are subsidies handed out to those buying EVs now. 

Junked Cadillac
Junked 1963 Cadillac in a field | Getty

And their plan is to expand to a global franchise that does these conversions everywhere. Transition-One wants the process to be easy and affordable. Currently, it is converting Fiat 500, Renault Clio, Twingo, Kangaroo van, and BMW Mini. And the price? It is $5,700 for the complete retrofit.

The current electric conversions have their drawbacks

EV retrofitting
Many shops around the country could be harnessed to do EV conversions | Getty

Granted, the range is still a bit limited for these types of conversions, at about 60 miles. And top speed is around 70 mph. But the company is working on both of those downsides as well. 

From the Transition-One website: “French regulations have authorized the electric conversion or retrofit of a vehicle and state certain conditions. To be converted to electric, the internal combustion vehicle must be roadworthy, registered in France, and be more than five years old. We guarantee our retrofit two years unlimited mileage, and our batteries five years or 100,000 km.”

For most looking to get into an EV cheaply, a 60-mile range is perfect for around-town needs. And for the cars it currently is converting, their size means it’s doubtful they would be used for long-distance traveling. 

Electric vehicle sales are hopping in Europe

EV retrofitting
A perfect candidate for conversion to electric power | Getty

In Europe, EV sales jumped 72 percent in 2021. But analysts expect that number to drop to under 30 percent this year. That still puts the number of EVs traversing the highways and byways of Europe at three million. The prediction is based on the fact that early adopters have stepped up and purchased an EV.

Also, automakers are pumping out as many gas-powered vehicles as they can before the regulations tighten in 2025. That’s when carbon dioxide emissions regulations tighten up considerably. Expectations are that Chinese EVs will fill the need for entry-level EVs once restrictions tighten. But they’re still at least $12,000 or more. 

Transition-One wants to be converting 10,000,000 vehicles by 2035

EV conversions
Another perfect candidate for conversion to electric power | Getty

“Our mission is to convert 100,000 vehicles in 5 years in the EU and 10,000,000 by 2035 in the world,” CEO Aymeric Libeau told Forbes. “We need the ambition to emerge from this critical phase in our ecological history. So, you will understand our ambition is global. 

“We have designed a generic retrofit unit that can be adapted to a large number of vehicles in order to expand rapidly. In the U.S., we can already retrofit Fiat 500s and Minis. Then we could extend to small cars from Toyota, GM, and Honda. This represents several million vehicles,” Libeau said.

It’s inevitable that lots of ICE vehicles will get junked

Pile of Cars
This is what we don’t want with the EV revolution; a pile of junked ICE cars in a wrecking yard | Getty

The other thing driving the idea is that many internal combustion-powered vehicles are expected to be junked. Obviously, with retrofitting, fewer ICE vehicles will end up as an environmental problem. 

We like the idea of low-mileage BMW and Cadillac CTS sedans finding a second life with electric power. The labor and materials wasted when a car is scrapped are huge. Now, if Transition-One’s plans work, many of these vehicles will get a second life. 

It also turns vehicle production from a linear economy, where materials from Earth are used, and labor goes into a product, only for it to be thrown away as waste; to a circular economy, which eliminates the waste.


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