At a garage in Mexico City in 2023, a team of engineers and local mechanics converted an old diesel truck into an electric vehicle (EV). Within days, they swapped out the truck’s existing engine and other parts, replacing them with an innovative electric powertrain, new cooling system, battery, electronics, and chassis. They also updated the cab to look as good as new.

The project was led by California-based Evolectric, which develops electrified transportation and battery technologies for commercial vehicles. Through its CircularEV approach, Evolectric uses digital twin technology (also known as virtual twin) to give new life to older vehicles, making them cleaner, smarter, and more affordable to run.

“Our aim is to accelerate fleet electrification with our CircularEV solution, which combines circular economy principles and advanced EV technology, making it scalable, affordable, and accessible to all fleet owners around the world,” said Jakson Alvarez, Co-Founder, co-CEO, and CFO at Evolectric. “There are around 340 million commercial vehicles worldwide, which would be hugely challenging to replace with new EVs. Instead, we’re here to extract the most value from each vehicle by repurposing it to be 100 percent electric and smart.”

By converting instead of replacing existing combustion engine vehicles, Evolectric is helping its customers save money and extend the lifecycle of their fleets. Rather than sending 10- to 15-year-old trucks with a few hundred thousand miles to be scrapped, they can extract as much value out of them as possible.

By converting instead of replacing existing combustion engine vehicles, Evolectric is helping its customers save money and extend the lifecycle of their fleets. Rather than sending 10- to 15-year-old trucks with a few hundred thousand miles to be scrapped, they can extract as much value out of them as possible. (Image: Evoelectric)

“Some commercial vehicles are built to last for as long as a million miles,” Alvarez said. “Yet, because of the lack of reliability around the diesel, internal combustion engine and all the components, you’re seeing many of them being scrapped at just 300,000 to 400,000 miles. We can electrify that vehicle, refresh the cab and chassis, and put it back on the road for another half a million miles.”

Compared to manufacturing a new EV from the ground up, the entire conversion process is faster, more cost-efficient, and better for the environment. “The process costs 45 percent less than buying a new EV,” Alvarez said.

“Retrofitting existing diesel trucks can reduce 50 percent of carbon emissions during the manufacturing process compared to a new EV truck,” added Nhiura Coaquira, Head of Sales and Marketing at Evolectric. “It also results in fuel savings as high as 70 percent and maintenance costs as little as 50 percent compared to traditional diesels.”

Accelerating Global EV Adoption Rates

Founded in 2019, Evolectric has used cloud-based design technology from Dassault Systèmes since the beginning to develop its electrification technologies. Now, the company is taking advantage of the cloud to extend CircularEV to under-served markets, where cost barriers and lack of EV infrastructure might prevent fleet owners from switching to more sustainable transportation.

“We’re combining a lot of the EV ecosystem in a turnkey-style, offering to help our customers quickly meet their long-term zero-emission targets,” said Bill Beverley, Co-Founder, co-CEO, and CTO at Evolectric. “By converting existing vehicles, we can avoid supply chain, development, and validation bottlenecks and get our innovative technology onto the roads faster.”

Evolectric works closely with its clients to determine the best way of converting their fleets from diesel to electric, taking into account local electrification issues. Before converting a vehicle in the real world, Evolectric models the assembly process and shows local partners exactly what they need to do to make each installation as fast and smooth as possible. (Image: Evoelectric)

For Evolectric, this is more than simply building EVs or battery solutions; it wants to achieve meaningful change and help its clients integrate circular economy principles into their long-term strategies. Evolectric says using cloud-based engineering technology helps future-proof its business. “I realized that it was important for us to get a platform that condenses all the information in the business along with the actual engineering processes into one suite. We start by creating a space in the cloud for a customer,” Beverley said.

“We needed immediate uptime. I wanted to download and click ‘go.’ A cloud-based solution gives us that and more. It is easy to deploy and is accessible from anywhere.” Evolectric considers CircularEV as an out-of-the-box solution customized for each installation. The solution includes CAD, simulation, and manufacturing planning.

“Within that online collaborative space, we design the EV solution, test it, and track any revisions. We can create and analyze accurate mechanical representations, then define the manufacturing process to produce the parts. We package everything up to be shipped to local networks and service centers so that they can do the installation themselves in as little as two days.”

Virtual Twins Verify EV Design and Assembly

Evolectric works closely with its clients to determine the best way of converting their fleets from diesel to electric, taking into account local electrification issues. It tests and verifies all of this virtually first. Engineers capture all customer requirements, validate system integration, and check how everything will function.

“We had the team in Mexico City accessing real-time CAD data, spinning the CAD, understanding what the process for installation was, where everything fits. They were able to lay up new parts into the existing truck and get the truck driving within weeks,” Beverly said.

Before converting a vehicle in the real world, Evolectric models the assembly process and shows local partners exactly what they need to do to make each installation as fast and smooth as possible.

“Using a virtual twin, we can demonstrate exactly how the build fits together. We show them how to do these conversions to our standards,” said Andrew Pontius, Head of Product and Strategic Partnerships at Evolectric.

“We’re now in the second phase of technological development, which comes down to what our data is telling us,” Beverley adds. “What are these vehicles doing in service? How are we bringing that data back into the platform, capturing those new requirements and learnings into the toolset so we can continue to evolve?”

“It offers us an opportunity to make these vehicles very smart so that fleet owners can get the most from their investment, covering everything from charging efficiency and driving performance. We can also quickly introduce new vehicle-to-grid and driver safety features.”

Removing Barriers to Green, Circular Mobility Worldwide

Based on the success thus far, Evolectric hopes to introduce its technology to more markets worldwide where demand is growing for affordable and accessible EVs. The company hopes to build a network of local partners capable of carrying out all installation and maintenance services.

“We not only focus on our customers’ needs, but also we supply very innovative solutions that can be scaled anywhere,” Coaquira said. “If we did it in Mexico with local technicians in a small garage, we believe we can make it happen anywhere.”

Evolectric believes EV adoption will continue gaining momentum as local users are empowered with the tools and technologies to manage the transition. Acceptance will only grow when the barriers to EV technology are lowered and when it makes good business sense.

“Conversions have been around for a long time, but on a do-it-yourself basis,” Alvarez said. “To be able to do this in a scalable and reliable manner, you need an approach like Evolectric, which empowers local communities. That’s where the circular aspect really comes in. The garages, equipment, and people who have maintained these commercial vehicles for generations now can take their skills to the next level, do installations with our kits, and service vehicles locally.”

This article was contributed by Dassault Systèmes (Waltham, MA). For more information, visit here .