Renault to offer retrofits for its most iconic cars to turn EV
Renault is taking its circular approach to electric vehicles further as it will offer to retrofit the classic Renault 4 and 5 as well as the first-generation Twingo cars. The kits come from R-FIT, a brand belonging to oldtimer specialist MCC Automotive.
The three retrofitted models will be on show at the Renault booth at the annual classic auto show, Rétromobile in France, with the kits being readied as you read.
For Renault, this is not the first time it has enabled previous buyers to turn their old mobiles into electric vehicles, despite also working on electrifying these model series anew. The Renault 4 and Renault 5 are slated for electrification from the ground up in 2024 and 2025. The third-generation Twingo platform has been on the market since 2014 and was designed for electric drives right from the get-go, using Zoe technology.
Still, the Renault 5 electric retrofit kit will go on sale in France in September 2023, with the equipment for the first-gen Twingo to follow at a later date, so Renault. The Renault 4 kit, however, will come online next month and could make quite a difference – the Renault 4 has sold around eight million times from the 1960s to the 1980s.
“These electric retrofit kits will enable people who love their classic cars and young people to drive in France in our iconic Renault 4, Renault 5 and Twingo, powered by electricity,” said Hugues Portron, Director of The Originals Renault. “In addition to the circular economy created by these new electric engine fits, the electric retrofit kits offer a solution that combines the pleasure of driving with savings and reliability without taking anything away from the style and the original designs of these well-loved timeless classics.”
Those interested in the kit may order directly at R-FIT online. The equipment for the Renault 4 will cost €11,900, including VAT and installation. The partners have not released the prices of the other kits. However, assuming they will incur similar costs, this may indeed be a cheaper option despite Renault Group aiming to offer (small) electric cars such as the Renault 5 at prices starting from €20,000 in future. In comparison, the Renault Zoe or Peugeot e-208 currently costs €30,000; a Twingo ZE comes in at around €24,000.
Renault hopes to realise future lower prices by using LFP batteries. This is also the case in the Renault 4 kit, which comprises a brushless synchronous motor (48 kW) powered by a lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery pack with a capacity of 10.7 kWh; Renault claims a range of 80 kilometres. A charge gauge makes its way into the cockpit. The mechanical transmission system will remain unchanged, and Renault says the kit won’t affect the vehicle’s weight distribution.
The kit has already passed all tests at the UTAC (the French car, motorcycle, and bicycle technical union) and is also eligible for national and regional subsidies in France. There has been no information on whether the brand will extend the offer to other markets.
In strategic terms, though,m Renault has taken this two-pronged approach of new and retrofit options for some time, arguing that retrofitting a combustion-powered vehicle was “a commercially attractive alternative to buying the equivalent new vehicle” in reply to electrive at a press meeting last year. Phoenix Mobility has been helping the carmaker to start retrofitting ICE Master vans into all-electric vehicles since the summer of 2022. The project is part of the Re-trofit unit at the Refactory in Flint that focuses on prolonging vehicle lives and serves Renault to experiment with the circular economy.