Retrofit: R-Fit and Renault electrify the 4L, the Renault 5 and the Twingo

Next February 1st opens Rétromobile, a show dedicated to old and collectible vehicles, from 2 to 4-wheelers, or more for some. French and international car manufacturers are present.

One of the stands is likely to generate a number of comments, questions and heated debates, especially among die-hard collectors. Indeed, Renault will present its iconic 4L, Renault 5 and first-generation Twingo, but the models on display have swapped their internal combustion engines for an electric thruster.

This is the so-called retrofit, a solution that consists of replacing the internal combustion engine with an electric version and a battery pack. This practice has been authorized in France since a decree published in March 2020 thanks to the lobbying carried out by the Association of players in the electrical retrofit industry (AIRe).

The three retrofitted Renaults were made possible thanks to the partnership signed with the Mehari Club Cassis – R-Fit, one of the leaders in retrofitting in France with more than 50 “treated” vehicles to its credit. These are essentially Citroën 2CV and Méharis. This same R-Fit can be seen on a stand next to the Renault.

2CV Mehari Club Cassis retrofit – R-Fit

The Mehari Club Cassis – R-Fit, pioneer of retrofitting in France.

© Erick Fontaine / Digital

UTAC-approved conversion kits will be offered for sale from February 1 for the 4L, while those for the R5 (TL or GTL, 3 or 5 doors, type 139700 or 122700) will arrive in autumn 2023 The Twingo kit will be “available later” Renault said. For the record, French start-up Transition-One has already retrofitted a second-generation Renault Twingo with a 25 kWh battery pack, which we had the chance to use.

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French star-up Transition-One was the first to retrofit the second generation Renault Twingo.

© Aurélien Piot / Digital

Sold from €11,900 (including VAT and installation), the kit includes a 48 kW (65 hp) brushless synchronous motor powered by a battery pack (105 V) with phosphate-iron-lithium (LiFePO4) , d a capacity of 10.7 kWh. Renault indicates that the autonomy – shown on an interior gauge – will be 80 km (theoretical or real?). The 4L will recharge in 3h 30min from a power outlet (16A/220V). What hasn’t changed is the mechanical transmission system. The manufacturer claims that this conversion kit will not affect the vehicle’s weight distribution.

R-FIT RENAULT retrofit 4L retromobile

Once the 4L is retrofitted, its owner will receive all the necessary homologation and registration documents, stating the fuel type as electric (EL) instead of petrol (ES). Remember that buying an electric conversion kit allows you to get various national and regional bonuses and bonuses, all depending on income and region.

An economical alternative?

On the other hand, neither Renault nor R-Fit said the prices of the other two kits. It is assumed that they will be close to 4L, the goal is “A commercially attractive alternative to buying an equivalent new car”, Renault said last year. In comparison, you have to pay €25,250 for a Renault Twingo ZE and €35,100 for a Renault Zoe. The next “new” electric R5, scheduled for 2024, is estimated from €20,000. It should be followed by 4ever from 2025.

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A report from Ademe estimated that in March 2021 “conversion kit development costs are too high”.

© Ademe

For Hugues Portron, director of The Originals Renault, “These electric retrofit kits will allow classic car enthusiasts and young people to drive around France in our iconic Renault 4, Renault 5 and Twingo, powered by electricity”.

R-FIT RENAULT retrofit R5 retromobile

Not sure that collectors have the same opinion. Although “Retrofit appears as a solution to preserve the old car”according to the site The New Motorist, “This practice erases the traces of an old conception. It blurs the thread of automotive history and technological evolution. This is why conversion should be reserved for vehicles that represent a particular historical interest and heritage ”.

In addition to the sentimental value, a so-called collector’s car has a historical, heritage interest, a market value whose rating can suffer from an electrical transformation that can also prove very expensive.

For around €250, collectors will prefer to go through the “collection car” box (30 years minimum) through the French Federation of Old Vehicles (FFVE). Note that a Crit’Air Collection (paying) sticker should appear shortly, just to continue spinning anywhere, ZFE or not.

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