Converting vehicles to run on electric is nothing new. For a long time, EV conversions were the only kind of electric vehicle on the road, but the expense of doing that (especially when battery prices were super high), limited power, and limited range kept most people from seriously considering it. Now, auto manufacturers are mass-producing electric vehicles that are electric from the beginning, and at increasingly affordable prices.
Now, a major automotive manufacturer seems to be optimistic about going back to EV conversions.
“Renault Group, a major player in electric vehicles, is once again positioning itself as a pioneer in developing an innovative retrofit solution in a market that is still in its infancy and has great potential.” Said François Delion, After Sales Director of Renault Group. “This partnership with Phoenix Mobility represents the first association between a car manufacturer and a promising start-up to launch a new commercial offer on the after-sales market and thus meet the expectations of our professional customers looking for more sustainable and more economical mobility solutions. This project is fully in line with Renault Group’s strategy to make the Re-Factory in Flins the first site dedicated to the Circular Economy of mobility.”
This partnership will start with Renault and Phoenix making 1,000 conversion kits, using new Renault EV parts, Phoenix retrofit components, and professional installations in used light commercial vehicles. This will all be done in a “Re-Factory,” where they take the used vehicles, remove gas- or diesel-burning parts, and set them up for electric power. This should eventually get the cost of a conversion down to affordable prices.
“Pioneer and leader in the retrofit of public and professional fleets for the past 3 years, Phoenix Mobility continues its industrialization strategy thanks to this strategic partnership with Renault Group. This new stage in our development will enable us to rapidly address the growing market demand.” Said Wadie Maaninou, Founder and CEO of Phoenix Mobility.
The goal of the first 1,000 test installs will be to evaluate whether these conversions can be done at scale in a factory-like environment in a way that’s cost effective, environmentally friendly, and perhaps most importantly, with a resulting vehicle that people will really want to use for business.
Why This Partnership Matters
There are a number of other companies doing EV conversions, so it might seem like it’s dumb to be excited about an EV conversion company enough to make it news, but there’s one new thing here that we haven’t seen before: the involvement of a big automotive manufacturer. This means that the company doing the conversions isn’t just buying what they can on the normal market, but getting parts that the manufacturer is already buying in bulk from suppliers or making cheaply for themselves.
More importantly, a manufacturer choosing to repower a vehicle instead of building an entirely new one means that the environmental impact of putting a new EV on the road is far lower. By recycling older vehicles and making them an EV, you can skip many environmentally costly moves in the process.
Personally, I’m hoping we see this partnership work out so that not only Renault, but other manufacturers can see that it’s a viable option.
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