The story behind the world’s first electrified vintage 1954 Fiat Millecento.
The lockdowns brought a lot of stress stress to businesses, customers, and delayed the launch of new products due to the collapse in supply chains. Daily check-in meetings were full of people sharing their worries about our business and their personal lives.
So, we decided to do something about it, keeping ourselves motivated and focused. We decided to take a restored 1954 Fiat Millecento and convert it from an internal combustion engine vehicle to fully battery-electric. We reasoned that if we got it right, this car could be used on our charging products and could be a mascot at auto shows where our DC Quench fast chargers would be displayed.
This particular model was imported into India after Indian independence in 1947. It is a wonderful design full of quicks, with doors opening unconventionally, providing wide access space to its retro interior.
The car we worked on was a labor of love two times over. It was first discovered abandoned on the side of a highway, rusty and not in roadworthy condition by a French baker living in Pune – Brice Poisson. Brice found the car, negotiated to buy it, and then had it restored to its original 1954 factory finish – even having the car repainted in the same colors as the cars that were delivered in 1954.
Even the interiors were redone in a style true to the original factory finishes. Brice soon decided to move back to Paris, and Brice sold the car to us.
The Indian automobile sector is the world’s fifth largest, with plans to become the third largest by 2030.
The lockdowns gave our project the impetus it needed, and our entire team worked in batches to convert this car, with such a unique history, into a vehicle of the future. One team worked on the dismantling of the internal combustion engine. Another worked on the undercarriage to make it ready for the electric motor. A third team worked on rehabilitating the paintwork & chrome and another worked on stripping the petrol fuel tanks and lines. With so many people working on the project most of the work was done in a matter of days.
The final team worked with our electric motor vendor on installing the Lithium-ion battery pack in the boot and the powerful electric motor in the front.
We soon discovered that the electric motor was far too powerful for the brake design. So we had to detune the motor while we searched for disc brakes we could modify at a milling shop and have installed. This ended up taking a few weeks of hunting second-hand shops and auto markets.
Finally – with the right brakes, we could work the electric motor back to full torque and enjoy the feeling of being pushed back into your seat as this retro car took off down the road.
There is something beautiful about seeing a vintage vehicle glide down the road silently. So much history, one can feel the spirit of the team that conceptualized the original design in the 1940s, the team that manufactured it in the 1950s, and the people who had maintained and serviced it since. Sadly, these cars are not allowed on public roads since they do not comply with updated safety and emissions rules. However, our little Millecento is different. The conversion of classic cars to electric is a method to revive the use of these wonderful vehicles and keep them alive, and get them back on the roads.
The Indian automobile sector is the world’s fifth largest, with plans to become the third largest by 2030. It will not be sustainable to rely on existing means of fuel-intensive mobility to serve such a big domestic market. To combat this, government authorities are designing a “Shared, Connected, and Electric” mobility alternative to reach 100% electrification by 2030. India has the greatest untapped EV market in the world. With multiple automakers rapidly releasing EV vehicles, the electric vehicle market has expanded dramatically. The Indian EV industry is rapidly growing, with close to 0.32 million vehicles sold in 2021, a 168% increase YoY. In 2021, 3,29,190 electric vehicles were sold in India, signifying to increase over the previous year.
In response Ador Digatron has positioned itself as Quench EV Chargers to meet the demand for effective and reliable EV chargers. We hope that our 1954 Fiat Millecento EV the E-Diggi – will not be the only retro car on India’s roads as the electric transition gathers momentum.
Ador Digatron is a technology project house that provides industrial & technical knowledge as well as design, products & solutions to support the battery, energy storage and e-mobility industries. Our team provides comprehensive sales & service support in all geographies where we operate for a wide range of electronic test, charging & formation equipment for the emerging lithium battery sector, electric vehicles, static energy storage as well as numerous other battery chemistries including lead-acid technologies.
This article originally appeared as part of the ‘Energizing India Podcast’ where you can listen to stories on the India Electric Vehicle ecosystem and read more articles like this.