British electric vehicle supplier Bedeo has introduced a new service aimed at converting thousands of diesel vans into electric hybrids, with an initial focus on the French market. This strategic move comes as France extends enticing government subsidies for retrofitting fossil-fuel vehicles, aligning with its commitment to greener transportation alternatives.
France's generous subsidy program offers a significant 9,000-euro ($9,509) incentive for companies involved in electric vehicle retrofitting. However, it's essential to note that each retrofitted model must successfully pass government vehicle tests, ensuring the highest standards of safety and performance.
The conversion of fossil-fuel vehicles into electric hybrids has emerged as a burgeoning industry. Still, France stands as a pioneer by providing a comprehensive regulatory framework and substantial subsidies to accelerate this transition.
Bedeo's fundamental conversion kit, priced at 30,000 euros, includes a robust 37-kilowatt hour battery and cutting-edge Protean Electric in-wheel motors. These in-wheel motors, installed on the rear two wheels of a diesel van, operate as stand-alone units, eliminating the need for traditional axles or powertrains.
With a plug-in battery that offers an impressive range of up to 120 kilometers (75 miles), Bedeo's CEO, Osman Boyer, believes this solution will capably cover approximately 95% of typical delivery routes before reverting to conventional diesel power.
Bedeo's ambitious goal is to target 20,000 van conversions annually. Boyer emphasizes that the company's primary customer base will likely consist of smaller fleets of vans, especially those with specialized equipment like refrigerated units, who may find traditional electric vehicle models financially out of reach.
Boyer notes, “What we are seeing more and more is that who is going to be left behind in this transition is the smaller fleets. The guy who owns five vans, what does he do?”
To qualify for French subsidies, Bedeo, known for producing electric powertrains for vans in partnership with world No. 3 automaker Stellantis, plans to commence the production of its in-wheel motors in France during the first quarter of 2024. The company is actively exploring various production options to meet this ambitious goal.
It's worth mentioning that Bedeo acquired Protean Electric in 2022 from a unit of China Evergrande Group. Notably, Chinese automaker Dongfeng Motor has already initiated small test fleets equipped with Protean's in-wheel motors, with plans to introduce new models featuring this innovative technology around the middle of the decade, as confirmed by Protean CEO Andrew Whitehead.
Whitehead further revealed that several other Chinese car manufacturers and three major European automakers are also considering the adoption of Protean's in-wheel motors, signifying the growing global interest in this cutting-edge electric vehicle technology.
This strategic move by Bedeo in the French market is undoubtedly a significant step toward achieving a more sustainable and eco-friendly future for transportation, with government incentives driving the transformation of traditional diesel vans into efficient electric hybrids.