There’s a small but thriving industry converting classic cars into EVs. Renault has jumped on the bandwagon with this adorbale convertible concept, the Renault e-Plein Air.
The original Plein Air was based on the ultilitarian Renault 4, shorn of most of the bodywork including the doors. It was intended for the French military but also found a market on the Riviera, where it became a fashionable run-around.
The e-Plein Air is a collaboration between Renault Design, Renault Classic and Melun Retro Passion, a classic car parts supplier that stocks so many bits for the Renault 4 that you could probably build a new one from scratch.
Renault hasn’t released many details on ePA and all we know at this stage is that the original, miniscule 4cyl engine has replaced by the electric powertrain from the… Renault Twizy.
The Twizy produces 17hp and 42lb/ft of torque. The ePA probably weighs about as much as a washing up sponge, so it should be pretty sprightly off the mark. We doubt it can reach much more than 40mph, though. Still, that would be plenty for darting around the narrow streets of some ancient seaside resort.
The white plastic grille, Twizy instrument panel and lack of back seats are the only visual clues that this isn’t your average Plein Air. Incidentally, it could only be a two-seater as the battery pack lives where the rear seats would normally be. The wicker picnic basket goes a small way to make up for the loss of practicality.
We have no doubt we’ll be seeing a lot more classics reformatted as EVs in the coming years. Already, everything from the VW Beetle to the Aston Martin DB6 have been converted, thanks to ever-smaller powertrains that can be bolted onto the same mounts as the original engine and gearbox. Indeed, with draconian low emissions zones being introduced across the world, EV conversions could soon be the only way of driving an older car in a city.
By Graham King