Is the mass retrofitting of older vehicles the solution to a rapid transformation to an electrified vehicle fleet? Felix Kramer, founder of Cal Cars, certainly thinks so. The problem lies in the fact that there are nearly 250 million vehicles on the road in the U.S. with a median age of about 10 years. When auto sales were at their peak of 16-17 million units a year in the recent past, it would have taken 20 years to replace most of the fleet. With sales not expected to return to those levels for the foreseeable future and current sales at about 10 million, it will take even longer.
Kramer is proposing that widespread retrofitted should be promoting as a means speeding up the transformation. Even with the slow rate that the vehicle fleet is turned over, the plug in conversion will be even slower because of the low volumes of those vehicles in the first years of availability. Tens of millions of vehicles could be converted much more quickly than new vehicles will be sold. Unfortunately, there are a lot of potential safety and reliability issues with such conversions. They can also be expensive. On the plus side, re-using existing vehicles takes much of the manufacturing energy out of the equation. It's certainly not a simple calculation.