With several weeks to go before the first day of SOLUTRANS, the global hub for heavy and light commercial vehicles, the minds of all transport professionals are focussing on the same question: how to decarbonise the sector cost-effectively.
It is worth recalling that the European Commission has set ambitions greenhouse gas emissions reductions, amounting to more than 25% for transport between now and 2030.

SOLUTRANS 2030 will therefore give over a large space to retrofitting as one of the most appropriate transition solutions, which allows owners to reduce their carbon footprint before having to buy a new vehicle.
Workshops, talks and exhibitors will offer more insight into the concept, also attempting to gauge how worthwhile this technique is, depending on the vehicle and its use.



The retrofitting concept consists of replacing a fossil fuel engine with a less polluting electric, gas or hydrogen alternative. This energy mix solution, particularly suited to commercial vehicles travelling around urban areas, appeals to nearly half of the tradesman population, who say that they are prepared to adopt it.

Several solutions exist today:

  • The electric retrofit: the most frequently adopted for goods transportation in urban and suburban settings. According to the French energy and environment agency ADEME, electric retrofitting would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by between 61 and 87% compared with diesel.

  • The hydrogen retrofit: this is starting to take off and could potentially see an ambitious industrial ramp up in the years to come in particular if it benefits from the development of refuelling stations. Hydrogen retrofitting consists of initially converting a fossil fuel vehicle to an electric one. The electric engine is thus powered by a battery pack to which a fuel cell and hydrogen tanks are then added. The size of the hydrogen tank or the power of the fuel cell will change depending on the type of vehicle and its use. The energy needed is therefore measured so as to estimate whether the solution is suited to the daily use of the vehicle.
    Vehicles running on green hydrogen present the advantage of only emitting water, thus eradicating the emission of particulate matter, sulphur and nitrous oxide, and contributing to air quality.

  • BioGNG retrofitting: the conversion of a diesel or petrol vehicle to one running on biogas. Gas retrofitting emits less greenhouse gases than would the scrapping of a diesel vehicle and its replacement with a new gas vehicle.

Worth noting: the French government recently launched a national action plan in aid of retrofitting. It will provide support of approximately 100 million euros to decarbonise transport: 60 million to support the acquisition of electric HGVs and 40 million to develop a nationwide range of electric road vehicles.