Converting an old gas- or diesel-burning car to run on electric power seems like a great way of having more clean cars on the road quicker than if everybody just bought brand new EVs. This should be a more cost-effective way for those who could not afford buying a new EV to still drive around on electrons, but currently there are not many available solutions.
Fully Charged went to France to look at a company that says it offers an EV conversion that only costs €5,000, with government subsidies factored in. The company that offers this service is called Transition One and it has a goal of making EV conversions accessible to as many people as possible.
That’s why its kit, seen in the video powering an older Fiat 500, doesn’t give the vehicle thrilling performance or impressive range. In fact, the company says that with its kit installed, the now electric 500 will have a range of over 100 km (62 miles) and a top speed of 110 km/h (68 mph) - neither is a particularly thrilling number, but for a vehicle that will be used exclusively for short journeys in town, both are adequate.
In order to keep costs down by changing as little as possible during the conversion process, Transition One keeps the vehicles’ gearbox and it tries to retain the original’s packaging. For instance, even though in some conversions the battery pack ends up under the hood, where the engine used to be, for Transition One’s solution, it is actually placed in the rear of the vehicle where the fuel tank used to be.
So you still have to change gears yourself, but you don’t actually have to use the clutch to set off. And even if the decision to keep the manual transmission was dictated by cost, the fact that you can change gears in an EV will surely be an intriguing prospect for some people.