Retrofit, the solution to go electric without changing cars

While the electric car starts to gain space in the French car fleet, access to major cities will be banned in 2025 for the most polluting vehicles. A problem, for example, for artisans and their concessionaires, or municipalities and their fleet of diesel buses. But buying a new vehicle is not within everyone’s reach. But for two years, a solution, retrofit, is authorized in France. it allows transform a thermal vehicle into an electric vehiclea less expensive operation than buying a new vehicle. Arnaud Pigounidès is the president of REV Mobilitiesstart-up that offers the retrofit operation in certain types of vehicles.

You offer REV Mobilidades a solution, Retrofit, to transform thermal vehicles into electric vehicles. How it works?

The electrical retrofit consists of remove a heat engine of a vehicle, be it a two-wheeled vehicle, a utility vehicle, a car or a bus. Take out the engine, take out all the engine parts, the traditional traction chain, the tank and everything else, and put an electric motor with batteries but also for hydrogen. It’s actually a new electrification technology that we put in old vehicles. This is a completely new phenomenon that has just been regulated by France, following extensive work I carried out over three years to have regulations that allow it, it should be known that it has been banned since 1954. But now it is authorized. So we at REV Mobilidades do vintage cars, vans and also buses and trucks.

Who is this solution for?

It is ideally aimed at all those who work in cities and who will be faced with one thing: your diesel or vehicle will be prohibited, in low emission areasto circulate from January 1, 2025. So really, it’s carnage, I can tell you, 17 million vehicles will be banned in major cities. However, most artisans, most fleet managers, most companies acquired fleets of diesel vehicles. For example, they have a diesel bus that was equipped by a city to transport residents. Leave them on diesel, to circulate, we had no choice but to throw them away or sell them, watch them pollute elsewhere and buy new ones.. However, the new is not enough. And the retrofit makes it possible to transform vehicles faster and be able to use them every day.

This is a solution that is also financially advantageous in relation to the sale of old internal combustion vehicles and the purchase of new ones…

Yes, retrofitting is extremely advantageous, whether for cars, utilities or buses, as it is neither more nor less than half the price of a new electric vehicle. You know that a new electric vehicle is still very expensive. Whether it’s a Tesla or a Zoé, it’s still more expensive than a Clio Diesel. It’s actually because there are batteries in it that saves a lot of money. But these batteries, you have to buy them today. And suddenly, indeed, retrofitting, we just change the engine. You don’t have to redo an entire chassis and therefore it costs half the price of a new vehicle. Knowing that, as builders, we have a prize that, between the state bonus and regional bonusesparticularly in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Grenoble, you can go to artisans up to €15,000 reduction for a retrofit between €15,000 and €25,000. This is an excellent opportunity to be able to transform your own vehicle and above all give you a second life. Continue for five years, seven years, eight years, ten years even if necessary, up to fifteen years if the chassis is in very good condition. and everything that is good for the planetit’s good to the wallet and above all that create jobs in France. The objective is not to take vehicles to the other side of the planet to be transformed, to return. No, our goal is create the transformation conditions in each agglomeration, in each major region, so that partner mechanics or people we approve as retrofitters can carry out the operation as close as possible to the customer. And above all, it reassures customers. People work with their vehicle and therefore this entire French network is thousands of jobs in France that we are creating.

Also preserve the employment of mechanics, especially so that there are still actions to be carried out on the vehicles that will be offered to them?

In fact, the retrofit is a good alternative to mechanics because it gives them something to work on later. Because imagine tomorrow, everything goes electric with vehicles coming from China. What can a mechanic do on it besides changing the tires? He is not even allowed to touch the vehicle because it is a high voltage vehicle. So he may not even have been trained, while we are there to train these people, to help them transform vehicles with our systems, our assembly guides and our processes, so that we can do more and more. And it’s a real opportunity for mechanics who have hundreds of workshops per region that call us because the retrofit, they understood that it was a real business opportunity and they are also very afraid of losing their job later on.

At the moment, in any case, these are not yet what we would call common vehicles, that is, private vehicles that are not yet “collectable”…

The retrofit private vehicle will happen according to us around 2024-2025 when we will be getting closer and closer to the establishment of low emission zones. As you may know it is on January 1, 2025 that 45 of France’s largest cities will ban diesel engines over fifteen years old. Any Crit’Air three, four, five will be banned or even Crit’Air two later. So we know that with the increase in our volumes that prices will finally fall and around 2024-2025 with the arrival of european batteries also, since there is work on battery design and battery manufacturing at the “Gigafactory” in France and Europe, the costs will be reduced and therefore, suddenly, it will be much more profitable and much more interesting for an individual to do so at this time.

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