By Osman Boyner, Founder and Chief Executive of Bedeo. 


There is an escalating demand for electrification within the large van market. However, there are currently many hurdles in the way. Namely lack of availability, limited product range and higher costs than buying a new diesel or retaining your old van. Therefore, it is imperative that new solutions are considered. This article delves into the pivotal role retrofitting can play in electrifying existing vehicles, what it is, and how it can provide van owners with cost-effective electrification solutions without compromise.

What is Retrofit?

Retrofit is taking an existing used vehicle – in this case a large diesel-engine commercial van – and rather than replacing it with an expensive new electric or diesel vehicle, adding an electric power train to reduce its emissions and extend both its range and its working life.

Retrofit has come to mean many things to many people, and this is part of the challenge. Typically, it has focused on retrofitting selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems added to the original diesel particulate filter (DPF) to trucks and buses, or the LPG solutions that are part of the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS). However, this is not what we are talking about here.

Importantly, retrofitting in this instance does not have to mean replacing the diesel engine; it means providing the vehicle with an additional, electric powertrain, thanks to the innovation of in-wheel motors (IWM).

How does it work?

In wheel motor technology work on the principle of mounting the drive motor within the wheel hub of the vehicle (as opposed to a centrally mounted motor with drive shafts going to each wheel).  To do this the motor technology needs to be different to conventional electric vehicle motors.  For example, the motors need to run at lower speeds to match the wheel speed, the torque needs to be higher as there isn’t the gearing you would get with a transmission/differential and the motor needs to be integrated with the conventional braking system and the motor needs to be designed to withstand the harsh conditions seen at the wheel.

The advantage of in-wheel motors is that they are more compact, lighter, more efficient and easier to install than an equivalent e-axle. In the case of the RE-100, they are powered by a 37kWh battery. Crucially, from an engineering perspective but also of vital importance to the van’s owner/operator, no suspension modifications are required to the front or rear, there is no loss of ground clearance and no increase in load space or height.

Does that mean it’s a hybrid?

A vehicle retrofitted in this way is a hybrid in as much as it can have two modes of power – electric and diesel – but with the BEDEO technology has the ability to be locked into electric only mode in low emission zones if required unless in an emergency. Outside of controlled zones the driver is in control and can determine when to stay in electric for a more pleasant driving experience, or switch to diesel for longer distances.

The benefits of the Reborn Electric retrofit

By opting for retrofit, van owners can keep their existing vans, many of which are fitted with expensive conversions such as refrigeration units or racking. Additionally, it extends the operational lifespan of vehicles, offering a cost-effective alternative to the purchase of entirely new vans and conversions. Drivers also have the advantage of no longer having to worry about range or downtime while charging. The RE option offer 100+km of electric range, as well as 600+km of range with its range extender, making range anxiety a thing of the past.

Additionally, it reduces emissions and fuel costs, allowing fleets to transition to net zero cost-effectively. Retrofit not only conserves resources but also presents a fiscally responsible option for businesses and organizations aiming to meet sustainability goals.


In the face of a challenging landscape in the large van market, retrofitting emerges as a beacon of hope and innovation. While the demand for electrification surges, obstacles such as limited availability, constrained product range, and cost disparities persist. Retrofitting steps in as a viable solution, offering a transformative path forward.

As we navigate towards a more sustainable future, retrofitting stands as a testament to adaptability and responsibility. It bridges the gap between aspiration and action, offering a cost-effective, environmentally conscious solution.

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