Startup offers ~$9,000 electric retrofits with Tesla batteries for fossil fuel-powered cars

A French startup is trying to streamline electric conversion with Tesla batteries in order to offer a relatively cheap way to convert older fossil fuel-powered cars.

There’s nothing new about electric conversions, but they are often really complicated, which also makes them really expensive.

It most often cost tens of thousands of dollars, and that’s why most electric conversions today are done on classic cars or to create drag-strip monsters.

Transition-One claims to have developed a streamlined way to convert cars to an all-electric powertrain.

Last month, they unveiled their prototype, a 2009 Renault Twingo, with a range of 180 km (112 miles).

They purchased Tesla battery modules from a salvaged part reseller and installed three battery modules — one in the front of the car and two in what used to be the gas tank. The entire system weighs about 120 kilograms (265 pounds).

They worked on making the installation process as simple as possible, and they say that they can now do it in just a day.

Transition-One founder Aymeric Libeau told Bloomberg:

I’m selling to people who can’t afford a brand new €20,000 electric car. We’re turning the best-selling models across Europe into electric cars.

The startup says that it is currently supporting the following car models:

  • Renault Twingo II
  • Fiat 500
  • Citroën C1
  • Peugeot 107
  • Toyota Aygo
  • VW Polo

They plan for the entire installed electric retrofitting kit to cost just €8,500 (~$9,400), but there are incentives specific to retrofitting older cars in France, where the startup is based, and it could bring down the price to just €5,000 ($5,500).

On their website, Transition-One wrote:

Your car becomes electric with a range of 100 km and a maximum speed of 110 km/h.

Transition-One is now looking to raise €6 million in order to set up volume production of the conversion kit. Libeau hopes to be able to convert 4,000 vehicles in 2020 alone.

Electrek’s Take

I like the concept, but I don’t think the specs and price point are quite there yet.

At ~$9,000 and limitations like 100 km of range and 100 km/h top speed, you might as well buy a used city-driving electric car like a Smart electric or a Fiat e500.

You are apparently getting used batteries in those kits anyway, so a used electric car shouldn’t be a problem.

Maybe it makes sense in France with the subsidies, but I think that it would be a tough decision for many even then.

What could be interesting is if a company would create a good electric retrofit kit, especially for the vehicles affected by things like VW’s massive diesel buyback programs.

You could probably get those cars that have been sitting around in boneyards for cheap:

You could streamline a conversion and offers those as used electric cars for a decent price.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.

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