This will enable small businesses to keep vehicles on the road for longer without purchasing a new and expensive EV.
Stellantis and mobility company Qinomic have announced a partnership that will see the two entities develop an electric motor retrofit program for existing light commercial vehicles.
This comes as European motorists face increasingly stricter emissions legislation and the advent of low emission zones (LEZ) in various cities. Stellantis aims to provide businesses and customers with an affordable electric option that allows them to prolong vehicle life and continue business activities in LEZ zones.
There's no word on pricing yet, but this could be handy for small business owners. In Greater London, for example, LEZ zones are in operation 24/7 and prove costly for owners of diesel-powered trucks and vans. According to Transport for London, the daily charge is a staggering £100 for vans (over 2,656 lbs unladen weight or 7,000 lbs GVW) that do not meet Euro 3 standards.
"Retrofitting technology will reinforce Stellantis' leadership in zero-emission mobility solutions for professional customers, complementing our [fully] electrified van range," said Stellantis' Xavier Peugeot, Product Director of Peugeot.
The automotive conglomerate already offers several electric vans through brands such as Vauxhall, Opel, Fiat, and Peugeot. These brands offer customers various options, ranging from smaller, more affordable options like the £29,500 (approx. $36,315) Vauxhall Combo Electric to the plusher Fiat e-Ulysse minivan.
For some business owners, purchasing a new vehicle is out of the question. This is what makes Stellantis and Qinomic's idea so appealing. "In a market boosted by last-mile demand, city access restrictions will soon require recent LCV owners to look for a solution to convert to zero emissions. Retrofitting technology like this will enable Stellantis to support this trend," said the company's Eric Laforge.
The strategic partnership hopes to complete demo cars in the coming year and to implement the service in France starting in 2024. We're wondering whether the service will be limited to Stellantis-branded vehicles only or if the group will offer the electric retrofit service to owners of all brands.
In America, Stellantis - through its Ram subsidiary - has plans to introduce a fully-electric variant of the ProMaster. The news was shared earlier this year when the automaker revealed the updated model. Little is known about the battery-powered newcomer, but Ram has said Amazon will be the first customer for the ProMaster EV.
The electric commercial vehicle will likely borrow technology from its European counterparts and, finally, give the Ford E-Transit an actual rival.
As for the new retrofitting service, it would be great to see this introduced stateside, especially as some states pivot towards an electric future.