While the electric has begun to make a place for itself in the French car fleet, access to major cities will be banned in 2025 for the most polluting vehicles. A problem for, for example, craftsmen and their utilities, or municipalities and their fleet of diesel buses. But Buying a new vehicle is not within everyone’s reach. But for two years, a solution, Retrofitting, is approved in France. She allows that convert a thermal vehicle into an electric vehiclea cheaper operation than buying a new vehicle. Arnaud Pigounidès is President of REV Mobilitiesa start-up that offers retrofitting on certain types of vehicles.
You offer REV Mobilities a solution, Retrofit, to convert thermal vehicles into electric ones. How does it work?
The electrical retrofit consists of remove a heat engine of a vehicle, so whether it is a two-wheeled car, a utility vehicle, a car or a bus. Take out the engine, take out all parts of the engine, the traditional traction chain, the tank and all, and put an electric motor with batteries but also to hydrogen. In fact, it’s a new electrification technology that we’re putting in old vehicles. This is a whole new phenomenon that has just been regulated by France after an in-depth work that I have been doing for three years to have rules that allow it one should know that it was banned since 1954. But now it is allowed. We do this at REV Mobilities vintage cars, vans and also buses and trucks.
Who is this solution for?
It is ideally aimed at all those who work in cities and who will be confronted with one thing: that is it their diesel or vehicle will be banned in low-emission areasto circulate from January 1, 2025. So in fact it’s carnage, I can tell you, 17 million vehicles will be banned in major cities. But most craftsmen, most fleet managers, most companies have bought fleets of diesel vehicles. For example, they have a diesel bus, which has been set up by a city to transport residents. Leave them in diesel to circulate, we had no choice but to throw them out or sell them, see them polluted elsewhere and buy new. New, however, is not enough. And retrofitting makes it possible to transform vehicles faster and to be able to use them every day.
This is a solution that you also present as economically advantageous in relation to selling old incineration vehicles and buying new …
Yes, retrofitting is extremely advantageous whether it is for cars, for used vehicles or for buses as it is neither more nor less than half the price of a new electric car. You know that a new electric car is still very expensive. Whether it’s a Tesla or a Zoé, it’s still more expensive than a Clio Diesel. In fact, it’s because there are batteries in it that save you a lot of money. But these batteries you need to buy them today. And then suddenly, in fact, by performing the retrofitting, we only change engine. You do not have to redo an entire chassis, which is why it’s half the price of a new vehicle. Knowing that we as builders have a premium, between the state bonus and the regional bonusesespecially in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Grenoble, can for artisans go up to € 15,000 reduction for retrofitting between € 15,000 and € 25,000. This is a great opportunity to be able to transform your own vehicle and above all give it a new life. To continue for five years, seven years, eight years, ten years, even if necessary, even fifteen years if the chassis is in very good condition. And all that is good for the planetit is well for the scrotum and above all creating jobs in France. The goal is not to take vehicles to the other side of the planet to be transformed, to return. No, our goal is to create conditions for transformation in each urban area, in each major region, so that partner mechanics or people we approve as retrofitters can perform the operation as close to the customer as possible. And above all, it reassures customers. People work with their vehicle and that is why this whole French network thousands of jobs in France which we create.
Also retain the employment of mechanics, especially so that there are still actions to be performed on the vehicles that will be offered to them?
It’s the retrofit actually a good alternative to mechanics because it gives them something to work with later. For imagine tomorrow, everything will be electric with vehicles coming from China. What can a mechanic do in it other than change tires? He must not even touch the vehicle because it is a high voltage vehicle. So he may not even be trained while we are there to train these people, to help them transform vehicles with our systems, our assembly instructions, and our processes so we can do more and more. And it’s a real opportunity for mechanics, there are hundreds of workshops per. region calling us because the retrofitting, they understood that it was a real business opportunity and they are also very scared of losing their job later.
At the moment, on your part, in any case, it does not yet concern vehicles that we would call ordinary, that is, private vehicles that are not yet “collectible” …
The private vehicle in retrofitting will happen according to us around 2024-2025 as we move closer and closer to the establishment of low-emission zones. Since you need to know that it is January 1, 2025, 45 of the largest cities in France will ban diesel engines that are more than fifteen years old. Any Crit’Air three, four, five will be banned or even Crit’Air two later. So we know with the increase in our volumes prices are finally falling and around 2024-2025 with the arrival of European batteries also, as the work of designing the batteries and manufacturing of batteries in “Gigafactory”, in France and in Europe, it will lower the cost and therefore it will suddenly be much more profitable and much more interesting to an individual to do so at this time.