Europeans with average incomes could soon be forced to get on the bus and out of their cars by environmental regulations that effectively ban sales of new, cheap internal combustion engines (ICE). But help is available.
Transition One is a start-up from Orleans, France. It plans to convert your popular ICE vehicle at a cost you can afford, and with a performance that meets most people’s needs. Transition-One’s current focus is in France but the CEO Aymeric Libeau said that it has ambitious plans to expand internationally.
Felipe Munoz is a global automotive analyst at JATO Dynamic. He said that the company’s plans are intriguing.
“Easy to use and affordable. This is exactly what consumers are looking for in a car. Munoz stated that although the conversion results may not be the best, and the range is still limited, it could offer a viable alternative for those who don’t have the funds to buy an all-new electric car city-car.
The conversion is initially only available for small cars such as the Fiat 500 and Renaults Clio, Twingo van and Kangoo van and the BMW Mini. Transition-One hopes that the conversion cost will be reduced to EUR5,000 ($5,700). At least three times as much is the cost of a battery-electric vehicle (BEV).
This is what the company website states.
“French regulations allow the retrofit or conversion of an electric vehicle. They also stipulate certain conditions. The internal combustion vehicle must have a roadworthy registration in France, be more than five years old, and be able to be converted to an electric motor. Our retrofit guarantee is 2 years unlimited mileage. Our batteries are 5 years or 100,000km.
This conversion gives you 100km of range (just over 60 mi) and a top speed of 110 km/h (just below 70 mph). This is ideal for a car that will be used only for local commuting and school runs, as well as shopping.
Here’s why Transition-One might be open to an offer.
The pace of electric car sales is increasing in Western Europe, as early adopters race to be fashionable. But, the pace will slow in 2022. According to Fitch Solutions, electric car sales across Europe increased by 72% between 2021 and 2022. However, growth in 2022 will be much slower at 28.4% which would mean a mere 3 million annual volumes. The market is saturated with early adopters and sales will slow. However, many major manufacturers are focusing on selling as many ICE models as possible before the next tightening in European Union (EU), carbon dioxide (CO) emissions in 2020.
As the market expands, sales will become more difficult because of the gap at the bottom caused by the high cost of electric cars. This excludes people on average wages. This is because the industry negotiated a deal to allow it to manufacture and sell high-end vehicles such as the Audi e-tron and BMW iX. It is impossible to sell entry-level cars and still make money. The gap was anticipated to be filled with cheap Chinese vehicles such as the FreZe Nikrob electric vehicle, which costs just EUR10,000 ($12,000 after taxes). Although this European version of China’s highly successful Hongguang MINI EV was expected to soon hit the market, it has been impeded by EU safety regulations. The Citroen Ami is a small, compact car with a 5.5-kWh battery and a range of 43 miles, but it’s not ready for primetime yet. It has a top speed of 28 mph, and a range of 43 mi. It would be possible to double the range and top speed.
This is a huge opportunity for Transition-0ne in the short-term, before new, cheap city cars become readily available.
He believes retrofitting is an ecological transition project and not a desire to sell electric conversions. This is a way to help preserve the earth’s environment. This is part of what he calls the “circular economy.”
It is defined by the Ellen Macarthur foundation as follows: “In our current economic system, we take materials out of the Earth, make products, and then throw them away as trash – it is linear.” We stop waste from being made in a circular economy.
Europeans are forced to buy electric cars because they cannot afford ICE cars and municipal regulations prohibiting them from cities. Even though electric cars are expensive, tax payer subsidies are offered to help them.
France is improving its conditions. These conversions have been allowed by changing the regulations. For example, diesel bans are one incentive in the European Union. Libeau stated that the market is growing rapidly and will continue to complement the new car market.”
“Our mission is convert 100,000 vehicles in five years in the EU, and 10,000,000 in 2035 around the world. To overcome this crucial phase of our ecological history, we need to be bold. You will see that our ambitions are global. To allow us to grow quickly, we have created a generic retrofit unit that can adapt to many vehicles. We can retrofit Minis and Fiat 500s in the United States. We could then expand to smaller cars from GM, Honda and Toyota. This is a number of millions of vehicles,” Libeau stated.
Libeau stated that the conversion price target is EUR5,000, with government subsidies and industrial scale. He said that the project also aims to ensure cars are not just discarded when they become unusable. Retrofitting them will prolong their useful lives.
It is technically possible to retrofit all vehicles. “My dream is that all cars won’t become junk,” Libeau stated.
He stated that the EU could help speed up the project by quickly implementing rules to facilitate retrofitting, just as it did in France. Crash testing is not necessary because the addition of the technology does not affect the vehicle’s safety quality.
Munoz from JATO said that the economics of the venture seem attractive. The cheapest electric car in France costs 2.5 times the Transition-One price.
“The conversion appears to be very competitive, and I see a huge opportunity for the public. Many drivers don’t have enough money to purchase a new car. These drivers have been driving their cars for many years and don’t want to spend a lot on a new car. Munoz stated that as mobility restrictions increase (in terms price increases and restrictions for ICE vehicles), they will have to find a solution.