UK needs to support retrofit or risk leaving country and green transport goals in the red

1.BEDEOconfirmsitsRebornElectricRE-100willmakeUKdebutatRoadTransportExpo2024
1.BEDEOconfirmsitsRebornElectricRE-100willmakeUKdebutatRoadTransportExpo2024

BEDEO, a trailblazing innovator at the forefront of the electric mobility sector, has released a whitepaper exposing major government and policy gaps in the UK EV retrofit market, despite retrofit technology being a proven accelerator for EV adoption and accessibility. The whitepaper, titled ‘Accelerating the Transition, Supporting our Businesses: Enabling Low-Emission Fleets with Retrofit Electrification’, underscores the critical need for introducing incentives for those looking to retrofit, and for retrofitters to be tighter regulated and scrutinised on safety and quality standards.

Retrofitting is already popular and well subsidised in other European countries such as France, it’s a process that converts used ICE vehicles to run on electric power, and a proven accelerator in the adoption of EVs. Not only is retrofitting a vehicle to run on electric power proven to extend the life of that vehicle, it also increases its residual value, making it a competitive alternative to buying a new electric van. Additionally, this approach reduces the total cost of ownership as well as the financial burden of buying a brand-new EV while minimising environmental impact; especially for vehicles in this category with major-built-ons in the back of the vehicle, such as refrigeration units, minibus conversions and many other rear fit-out applications. Despite these benefits, the retrofit market is perceived to be lacking in the UK, in a landscape ripe for potential that presents a promising opportunity, ready for smart incentives and enhanced regulation, as emphasised in BEDEO’s whitepaper.

The whitepaper further highlights the UK’s climate issues, as the UK is making “worryingly slow” progress towards net-zero, according to the Climate Change Committee*, showing no real signs of improvement. BEDEO’s paper notes that with an average vehicle age of 8.4 years**, many ICE vehicles registered in the UK by 2035 (zero emissions mandate***) will still be emitting greenhouse gases in the 2040s. BEDEO emphasises the need for support for light commercial vehicles (LCVs), too, which heavily rely on diesel, and travel further than the average passenger car. As of March 2020, the stats show that 4.1 million vans in Great Britain covered 55.5 billion miles annually, with lifetimes over 200,000 miles*****. This means that ICE vans, produced until 2035 or beyond, will, too, continue to emit harmful greenhouse gases beyond 2040, unless they are converted to run on electric power one way or another – with retrofitting emerging as a cost-effective and quicker solution to help meet these crucial deadlines.

BEDEO, founded by Osman Boyner in 2009, has been championing the electrification of UK fleets since the company’s UK market introduction in 2012. He said, “There’s still a lot of work to do for the adoption of EVs. When we came to the UK in 2012, it was due to the UK government’s pioneering vision and incentivisation of electrifying fleets (and passenger cars), but that seems to have fallen by the wayside.

“The UK was one of the first countries to offer the plug-in car grant, which is now no longer in use; plus the plug-in van grant, which is due to close in 2025 and has significantly reduced from £8,000 (and even upto £16,000 for the N2 category) to £5,000 in that time [from 2012 to now]! It has [the government] also got muddled up by its 2030 to 2035 ban on ICEs and lost a lot of support from SMEs, especially when the cost for them to adopt a new EV (car and van) is nearly 20 per cent more than a diesel equivalent. We just have to look at our capital city, London, for a real-world case study in the reduction in EV incentives. Through Transport for London, it [London] was one of the first cities in the world to establish Congestion Charge exemptions for electric vehicles. That exemption is being abolished in 2025. The falling incentives and government u-turns are causing a lot of confused drivers to wonder if they should switch to electric or not to power their next vehicle, and that’s where retrofit can help lessen the burden.

“Retrofit is going to be important in our [the UK’s] quest for not only a circular economy, but also to adopt electrification, and I’m surprised they [the UK government] aren’t doing more to support it – when you look at how popular Vinted and eBay are for fashion – why can’t we do that with cars and vans? Why do we have to just buy new?”

While currently still small-scale in the UK, companies like BEDEO are putting retrofit on the map, with BEDEO spearheading retrofitting’s introduction through its OEM-grade Reborn Electric programmes. These programmes use revolutionary in-wheel motors (from Group company, Protean Electric) to enable the electric powertrain conversion, as well as proven, turn-key batteries and chargers, trusted by Stellantis and other large suppliers, from BEDEO direct. In its recently launched whitepaper, BEDEO highlighted that not only is the UK government not investing in financial incentives for owners looking to retrofit their used cars – yet they do for buying brand new EVs – they are also not regulating the industry in terms of safety or best-practice in quality standards.

Osman Boyner, Founder and CEO of BEDEO, continued and warned, “At BEDEO and Protean Electric, we have been undergoing our own extensive testing and validation of our retrofit solutions before offering them to fleets and private customers. The retrofit market is a bit of a ‘wild west’ at the moment – anyone could take a used EV platform, add it to a vehicle and offer it for sale. They do not have to undergo any testing or validation, and if it’s for a classic vehicle, no MOT would be needed, either.

“Electric retrofit deserves to have its own regulation, terms and conditions to meet before converting a vehicle and putting it on the road, for the sake of other drivers and occupants of the vehicles. As such, I don’t think electric retrofit is taken as seriously here in the UK, hence it being swept to the side in terms of not only safety but also subsidies. Retrofit is a missing link in the electrification roadmap, but to accelerate growth, the government needs to support and regulate it correctly.”

The whitepaper concludes with a call to action for policymakers, industry stakeholders, and fleet operators in the UK to prioritise investment in retrofit technologies. By embracing retrofit solutions, the UK can mitigate the environmental impact of diesel vans and passenger cars, improve air quality, and accelerate progress towards a greener, more sustainable future. BEDEO will be submitting this whitepaper and other evidence for the government’s Registering historic, classic, rebuilt vehicles and vehicles converted to electric: call for evidence**** as officials review policies and processes relating to DVLA registrations for conversions.

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