If we’re serious about saving the planet, we need to repurpose our old cars, not just buy new ones!

If we’re serious about saving the planet, we need to repurpose our old cars, not just buy new ones!

“We are not a car company. We are a climate change company!” Transition One founder, Aymeric Libeau told me this firmly, within our first few email exchanges.

It took me a little while to fully understand what he meant but, having spent some time with him in France I think I get it now. At Transition One, it’s not about turning your old banger into a beautifully refurbed restomod. It’s not about preserving iconic classic cars. And it’s certainly not about fitting a 600kg, 100kwh battery, that costs a fortune and is good for a million miles. It’s about keeping things cheap and simple. It’s about getting as many people out of ICE cars and into zero-emission vehicles as quickly as possible. It’s about saving the planet.

This is the mission of Transition One. With generous government subsidies, its EV conversion kit can be yours for a mere €5,000 and is currently compatible with six of France’s most popular small cars, a number which will climb steadily in the coming years. It is designed in such a way that it can be fitted in just four hours by any local mechanic worth his salt, transforming your polloutive banger into a 100km urban EV. They don’t refurb your interior, they don’t even remove the gearbox. They change as little as possible, to keep prices as low as possible, and to ensure they can roll out kits for other models as fast as possible (the more you change in a car, the more work required to pass safety regulations)

There are a couple of reasons why this makes enormous amounts of sense. For one, new EVs are prohibitively expensive. The skyrocketing price of oil means a rapidly increasing number of people are becoming interested in making the switch to electric, only to find that most EVs are out of their budget – and that those they can afford have 9 month waiting lists. Retrofitting offers a far more affordable route into electric vehicle ownership. For two – and this is the biggie for Aymeric – it just makes sense to use what we’ve already got. The idea of encouraging everyone in the world to discard their existing ICE vehicle and buy a shiny new electric one is preposterous – it is fundamentally at odds with the whole reason we’re doing this in the first place: climate change. There are over a billion cars on the road today, the overwhelming majority of them are petrol-powered. What are we going to do, crush them all and buy new electric ones? That would be absurd.

This is the brilliance of Transition One’s work. It looks to accelerate the energy transition while simultaneously minimising wastage by ensuring that it’s not just lovely old Porsches and Ferraris getting new life breathed into them as EVs. They are doing exciting, important work and I truly hope to see the company thrive in the coming years.

Watch Jack’s episode on Youtube now.

About the author

Jack is a London-based presenter, writer, and expert in all things automotive. A lifelong car fanatic and recovering petrolhead, Jack is a fully converted EV evangelist these days and, prior to joining Fully Charged, spent two years launching and fronting a new EV media brand called Electroheads.