Electric conversion (retrofit) consists of replacing a vehicle’s combustion engine with a 100% electric motor. Cars, two-wheelers, vans, planes and even boats, the conversion of internal combustion vehicles to electric must comply with certain rules in France.
Retrofit rules to be respected in France
To transform a thermal car into an electric one, the rules to be respected are simple. Keep the power of the vehicle, which must not exceed that displayed at the time of its first approval. The volume and total weight of the batteries varies according to the size of the vehicle and its weight. 10 to 15% increase in vehicle weight is tolerated per axle. It should be remembered that today, the range offered on converted vehicles ranges from 120 to 220 km.
The only exceptions are vehicles less than five years old and vintage vehicles
Two exceptions to retrofit with vehicles under five still under manufacturer’s warranty, but also collector vehicles. The latter, which are more than 30 years old, must keep their “authentic” character, i.e. not be transformed. Obtaining the “Collection” car registration card is obtained after certification by the FFVE (French Federation of Vintage Vehicles). The “collection” car registration therefore excludes retrofit.
Technically, what is retrofit?
Most of the time, it is in the old place of the combustion engine that the electric battery is housed. The entire power train, exhaust system and fuel tank are removed to make way for new components such as the electric motor, the inverter and the battery with its BMS (Battery Management System). Moreover, what is the purpose of a BMS? Essential for all battery packs, the BMS monitors the state of the various battery components, such as the state of charge, voltage, temperature, etc.
The clear improvement of driving with the electric motorization (immediate acceleration with instantly available torque) and the new distribution of the masses of the vehicle induces de facto, to the improvement of braking and suspensions for most conversions. And unlike a new electric car without a gearbox, the retrofit can completely preserve the transmission as well as the gearbox of the converted car. Which is not without its charm…
Stop the breakage! Long live the recycling of our working vehicles!
The ban on internal combustion vehicles announced in several European countries sets the course. Starting with Norway, the first country to introduce this ban as early as 2025, followed by Denmark, Sweden and Iceland, which are aiming for 2030.
In France, the end of the sale of internal combustion vehicles is scheduled for 2040. Moreover, Paris is taking the lead by including in its “Plan Climat Air Energie” the objectives of “Zero diesel vehicles” in 2024 and “Zero petrol vehicles” in 2030. With the entry into force of the Crit’Air sticker and traffic restrictions in cities such as Paris, Lyon, Grenoble, Strasbourg… This will inevitably lead to the scrapping of a large number of vehicles on the road…
With 36 million vehicles on the road and more than 2 million new vehicle registrations each year, retrofit in France offers a real circular economy solution and an anti-wasteful use of our resources. And we owe this progress to the AIRe association (Actors of the Electrical Retrofit Industry).
Retrofit in France, a social and environmental issue.
Some fifteen French companies, united within the association, have set themselves the objective of transforming 1% of the car fleet in 5 years. This would represent approximately 360,000 vehicles. Arnaud Pigounides, co-president of the sector, estimates that this objective would generate a turnover of 5 billion euros and the creation of more than 40,000 jobs.
The cost of retrofit – currently estimated at between 15,000 and 18,000 euros for a small Twingo-type car with a range of around 100 kilometres – will be reduced by standardising conversions. Arnaud Pigounides hopes that the costs will be halved next year.
The support of the sector by the State and local authorities, with the distribution of purchase bonuses and bonuses (such as those allocated to manufacturers) is of course expected, so that the retrofit can honour all these promises.