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A new kind of retrofit

Electric vehicles (EVs) are the future. But EVs are also expensive and sort of impractical for most folks. They don’t have great range (as compared to gas-powered cars), but more than that, it’s the cost that gets most people. Like anything, if you had $100,000 in the bank tomorrow, you’d do and/or purchase a lot of stuff. What if we told you we couldn’t ensure you’ll have $100,000 in the bank tomorrow but could give you the details of a company that will swap out your gas-powered engine and install an electric one for super cheap.

The name of said company is Transition-One, and they’ve been operating out of France for a couple years now. What they do is far from easy – retrofit old cars via the addition of an electric engine, batteries and a connected dashboard. Founder Aymeric Libeau launched the company based on a simple premise – people want EVs, but many can’t afford them. He started with a 2009 Renault Twingo and turned said Twingo into an electric monster. Transition-One is now working with Volkswagens, Renaults and Fiat Chryslers.  

In an odd way we have the 2015 VW diesel-gate scandal to thank for this. The incident left such a black mark that cities across Europe initiated campaigns to do away with fossil-fuel cars and bring in EVs. The first Transition-One car was the previously mentioned Twingo. Three battery packs were fitted into the front and two more in what was previously the gas tank. The entire pack was purchased from a Tesla Inc. parts reseller and checked in at a weight of 265 pounds. The transition took less than a day, impressive stuff for the very first one.

Despite their popularity naysayers bring up the possibility of retrofitting errors and what that could mean when said cars fail on the highway. While this of course is a possibility, clear regulations could easily mitigate this. Libeau cut his teeth in the software industry and counts on a business background. This is going to help in his quest for 6 million euros to construct a state-of-the-art factory capable of producing 4,000 cars by the end of next year. New models such as the Twingo II, VW Polo, Toyota Aygo, Fiat 500 and Peugeot 107 are currently in the works. We have a feeling Libeau is set to take off, let’s just hope onerous policymakers don’t get in his way.

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