Squad launches world’s first ‘solar city car’
Squad Mobility, a Dutch start-up, has presented the prototype of a world first: a solar-powered city car. By eliminating the need for complex charging infrastructure, has Squad cracked the code for sustainable first- and last-mile transport? They think so: “This could change the world.”
The car, which looks a bit like a golf cart, is also named Squad. That’s short for solar-powered quadricycle. And if its solar power runs out, its battery can easily be swapped out. That makes the vehicle an ideal fit for urban transport, and in particular for operators of free-floating carsharing.
Smaller than a Smart
Low-speed and low-cost, a Squad is even smaller than a Smart. At just 2 m2 each, it takes up three Squads to fill up a regular parking spot (pictured). Nevertheless, the vehicle seats two persons, with a bit of room to spare for some shopping or work items.
The current model has a top speed of 45 km/h. A later model will reach up to 70 km/h. The vehicle’s battery offers a range of 100 km, with the solar panel generating an additional 20 km per day. Squad Mobility points out that the average microcar usage is around 12 km per day.
So solar would cover most use cases, with batteries covering nearly all other eventualities. And if need be, the batteries can be swapped, or charged directly from a normal power socket.
“Cities love solar charging: it is sustainable, and it decreases the load on the local charging infrastructure and energy demand,” says Robert Hoevers, CEO of Squad Mobility. “For cities looking for zero-emission mobility solutions with a small space footprint: we have achieved both.”
Squad Mobility says its EVs have a lower per-capita energy consumption than public transport, and a space footprint comparable to bicycles – all that while maintaining the flexibility and comfort of a car.
A Squad EV will cost €5750 (excluding taxes), which is just one-fourth of the next-cheapest EVs on the market (i.e. the Smart or the VW e-up!) Mitigating even that low price, Squad Mobility offers lease and subscription offers for as little as €100 per month.
The car is specifically designed for shared use. Each Squad will be equipped with sensors that allow remote diagnosis of metrics like tire pressure, charge level, etcetera. Each will also have multiple cameras, which will enable fleet managers to inspect the interior (e.g. for cleanliness) as well as the exterior (e.g. for parking accuracy).
If necessary, they can even move the car via remote control. Adding full-autonomous capability, if and when it becomes available, is high on the priority list. This would help manage the deployment of the fleet in its area of operations – for example, to even out distribution, or to areas with sunshine, in order to recharge. Production is set to start in the second half of 2022, but the vehicles can already be pre-ordered.
Image: Squad Mobility