French EV Retrofit Start-Up Transition-ONE Wants to Future-Proof Your Hatchback

Photo: Transition-ONE

New electric vehicles are coming, but if the goal is to get the general population driving emission free as soon as possible, we’re going to need to get moving a little quicker than that. A French company called Transition-One thinks they have a good solution. Rather than force everyone to get rid of their late-model hatches and buy something new, they’ll put a battery and electric motor under the hood for a far smaller price.

Converting a previously ICE-powered vehicle to electric power isn’t exactly a new idea. Others are doing very similar conversions, but the models they tend to choose and the price-points they tend to target have made EV conversions expensive novelties for the rich and royal, not a practical solution to the climate crisis.

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The Jaguar E-Type Zero. Pretty, but less than practical.
Photo: Jaguar

The idea behind Transition-One, then, is to take a premise developed for upper-class virtue-signaling and turn it into a workable stop-gap until EVs become affordable to everyone. Their model right now is to start performing EV conversions on a selection of hatchbacks popular on the French market, including the Renault Twingo (2nd generation), Volkswagen Polo, Fiat 500 and the PSA/Toyota C1/107/Aygo triplets for 5,000 euros (or 8,500 euros without the French governmental subsidy).

The drivetrain itself is not terribly impressive or unique. Bloomberg reports that the batteries are sourced from a Tesla parts distributor and are good for a range of about 180 kilometers (112 miles). On the other hand, the conversion process reportedly takes less than a day and leaves the rest of the car largely the same other than a socket where the filler cap used to be.

Transition-ONE founder Aymeric Libeau told Bloomberg that he expects regulatory approval soon, which could be crucial for his new company to meet possible increased demand as European cities prepare to ban diesel cars from urban centers. With plans to raise 6 million euros and open a large-scale production facility soon, Libeau will need to make sure he doesn’t run out of juice before then.

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Max Finkel

Max Finkel is a Weekend Contributor at Jalopnik.