AFP, published on Saturday July 11, 2020 at 4:42 p.m.
In the workshops of the Mehari Club in Cassis, a mechanic sets out to extract the heat engine from an old 2CV to install another electric one: when the famous Citröen starts, the usual roaring gives way to a simple “click” .
Following the example of some forty countries, France authorized in early April the replacement of petrol or diesel engines in cars over five years old with electric motors. A decision welcomed by professionals in the sector who extol the ecological interest of this conversion.
At the Mehari Club in Cassis, about twenty kilometers from Marseille, the complete transformation, called “retrofit”, of an old 2CV, takes a total of about twenty hours. Time to remove the heat engine, the tank and the muffler to replace them with an electric motor, large batteries in the trunk and a socket for recharging at the rear.
“It is a vehicle which lends itself well to it and in addition the weight of the new equipment, even with large batteries, corresponds to that of origin, approximately 900 kg”, details Maxime Cabanel, engineer in this company which manufactures spare parts for Mehari and 2CV, two emblematic models of the Citroën brand.
Charged in 3:30, the 100% electric 2CV, which will cost around 14,000 euros, will have a range of 120km and will be able to travel “everywhere”, even on motorways with a maximum speed of 90km / h, like the originals.
Installed at the wheel of a yellow and fully electric “Deudeuche”, a prototype, Stéphane Wimez, the managing director, silently climbs the first kilometers of the winding Route des Crêtes, which rises above Cassis and the Mediterranean.
– “We take advantage of the cicadas” –
“There, we take advantage of the landscape, we take advantage of the cicadas, we have a silent operation, even if we still hear some original mechanical noises from the 2CV”, explains the manager, who campaigned with the Aire association (Actors of the ‘electric retrofit industry) to authorize “retrofit” in France.
The goal, for him, is above all to “give a second life to old models which are condemned to no longer drive in the city”, because of the strict environmental regulations.
“You have to evolve with the times, the relationship with cars evolves considerably with the younger generations, they use them less and less especially because of the ecological impact”, concedes Stéphane Wimez who has marketed completely new and electric Méhari since 2017 , called “Eden”. “We have to continue to exist,” he slips.
To be approved, vehicles must have been transformed by a qualified professional under the conditions set by the legislator. Professional who will have to notably respect the “distribution of origin of the masses in the vehicle, with a tolerance of 10%”, specifies the head of company.
“Today, we are on a hundred kits per year, but at cruising speed, we plan to make several thousand kits”, specifies Stéphane Wimez, who hopes for a “potential market” of 10,000 cars out of 100,000 2CV of existing fleet in France.
Companies in the sector, which are requesting the introduction of a conversion bonus for these vehicles, have estimated that 66,000 vehicles could be adapted in the next five years in France. They hope for a turnover of one billion euros and the creation of 5,500 jobs.