Today’s rant: Since the reign of Ronald Reagan (1911 – 2004, US president 1981 – 1989), the United States (and other western countries) have prioritized the wellbeing of billionaires, to the detriment of those who find themselves on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. This means that these lower positioned people are frequently excluded from the economic/ environmental benefits of new developments. Among other things, they are last in line for electric vehicles. Until now …
The business model of Transition One, a French startup, is automotive electrical retrofit kits at the wholesale level. Wholesale contrasts with retail. Transition One supplies kits to garage/ mechanic partnered retailers, who in turn install the kits for consumers. Each kit is designed for a specific model of vehicle. Retrofitting involves modifying/ restoring/ replacing outmoded technology found in older systems. Electrical refers to a specific driveline configuration, one that avoids internal combustion engines. Automotive means that these modifications involve road vehicles.
Transition One has worked on developing six retrofit kits. Currently, kits are available for the following six models: Fiat 500 generation 1, Mini made after the BMW reboot, Renault Clio 3, Renault Kangoo, Renault Twingo 2 and Volkswagen Polo 4. These are all lower-priced vehicles, originally fitted with internal combustion engines. More models are planned. To be eligible for conversion a vehicle must be roadworthy, registered in France, be over 5 years old, and be one of the six models mentioned.
The kits consist of a motor providing 53 kW of power and 78 Nm of torque; batteries offering between 15 and 30 kWh, and provide at least 100 km of range, with a top speed of 110 km/h. An inverter/ charger is also provided (with a plug) that can operate at a maximum of 6 kW, and will take about five hours to charge a vehicle to 100%. The price of the kit and its installation is € 5 000 paid by the consumer, in addition the French government provides a grant of another € 5 000. The installation process is not performed by Transition One itself, but by certified partner mechanics, authorized by Transition One. The installation process is designed to be completed within four hours.
Retrofit kits will be certified by the responsible French authorities, and are in accord with French regulations. A retrofit is guaranteed for two years with unlimited mileage, while the batteries are guaranteed for five years or 100 000 km, whichever comes first.
At the same time that Transition One is soliciting vehicle buyers, it is also enticing local garages to enter into a partnership to retrofit vehicles. In other words, Transition One is a manufacturer of retrofit kits.
The retrofit process involves five steps at a partner garage. First, the vehicle is received and inspected to ensure that it will meet all requirements for roadworthiness after the retrofit. Second, all ICE components are removed and appropriately re-cycled. Third, the retrofit kit is installed. Fourth, the retrofitted vehicle is tested, to ensure that it meets all requirements. Fifth, the vehicle is delivered to its owner.
Hopefully, other companies will follow the spirit of Transition One, by offering kits for other vehicles in other markets.