360,000 vehicles could be converted to electric vehicles in 5 years would generate sales of 5 billion. Leading to the creation of nearly 40,000 jobs in France. Electric car conversion or retrofit would thus become a real sector in itself.
The electrical market is finally taking off!
The figures speak for themselves… In Europe, the last quarter of 2019 shows an 81.3% increase in purchases of rechargeable electric vehicles! In France, an increase in electric vehicle registrations of +227% compared to January 2019… And the same number of electric passenger cars registered in January 2020 as in the first quarter of 2019.
Figures to be found in detail on the Avere website (National Association for the Development of Electric Mobility)
Although electric motors still account for around 2% of light vehicle sales in France, the craze is finally there. And this, despite the latest psychological and financial resistance. However, driving in the city and being able to park there almost already forces us to use electric vehicles.
The most modest households owning vehicles that are ten years old or more are also directly concerned by this ban on driving during pollution peaks… The price of a new electric car (cash or rental) is still a deterrent for many French people. All this is already changing with a second-hand market that is starting to become more dynamic in France.
Read also: Electric conversion arrives in France. Transformation of thermic cars into electric cars is now possible
The retrofit industry is organized in France
Turning a thermal car into an electric one? An idea that makes sense.
Start-ups specializing in converting vehicles to electric, have been working together since 2018 to create the association AIRe (Actors of the Electrical Retrofit Industry) and organize the retrofit industry in France. And it worked! After having changed the rules of homologation in France, retrofit is finally starting to make itself heard.
Strength in numbers
Recently joined by Transition One, the 2CV Méhari Club Cassis, Oscar Lab (Norauto) and Faraday for aeronautics, the AIRe association brings together research laboratories, SMEs involved in the transformation of industrial vehicles or classic cars, spare parts distribution companies and maintenance networks. An entire sector is emerging and is structured around the opportunity of this new market, which creates jobs and is good for the environment.
Without ambition there is no talent
According to the AIRe association, a turnover of 1 billion euros is to be envisaged, generating 5,500 direct and indirect jobs for 65,000 converted vehicles over the next five years. These figures are based on a transformation of 0.09% of the passenger car (PC) fleet in France and 0.72% of the commercial vehicle (CV) fleet.
Arnaud Pigounides, President of Retrofuture Electric Vehicles and Co-Chairman of AIRe, estimates that by transforming just 1% of the French car fleet, the potential number of convertible vehicles would rise to 360,000. Generating a turnover of 5 billion euros, with the maintenance or creation of more than 40,000 direct or indirect jobs.
Retrofit in France, for all vehicles and (almost) all desires
While the automotive sector can be divided into two main families (industrial vehicles on the one hand and commercial vehicles on the other. However, retrofitting also concerns aviation and water sports, as well as everyday passenger cars and recreational or collector cars.
The motivations for buying a vehicle are therefore multiple, and can be distinguished in two ways. Rational, such as to be able to drive, to save fuel… or emotional, such as to protect the environment, not to bother others, to reflect a positive self-image. So many “niches” to exploit for the retrofit industry.
The origin with the retrofit in California
Even though retrofit is already allowed in Europe as in Italy since 2016, in Germany, or in England, retrofit has its roots in California.
Arnaud Pigounides, who lived in Los Angeles, was the owner of a Porsche 914 converted to electric. Starting point for the creation of the AIRe association of which he is co-president and founding member.
In France, the retrofit landscape can be divided into two uses: transforming commercial vehicles (such as Carwatt), or leisure-collection vehicles. Brouzils Autos, the first company to electrify a VW Beetle, is already positioned in this segment; Retrofuture; Méhari Club Cassis, Ian Motion and Transition One.
The cost of retrofit in France: between €5,000 and €10,000 tomorrow?
The cost of converting a combustion engine car into an electric one varies according to the vehicle, from €10,000 to €30,000. Most of the conversions proposed are around €20,000, for 90 horsepower and a range of 150 kilometers.
In the short term, Arnaud Pigounides thinks that 10 000€ will be enough for a small car with 50 km of autonomy. While others, such as Transition One, are betting on a retrofit of up to €5,000, after deduction of premiums, for a Renault Twingo 1, or an Austin Mini from the 70s and 80s.
More accessible than buying a new vehicle, investing in a used vehicle converted to electric power is already a major advantage. Financial incentives such as government aid or those distributed by local authorities will nevertheless be a real boost to launch the market significantly.