Upstart Squad Mobility set up shop in Amsterdam to develop a new generation of urban solar electric vehicles at truly affordable prices. And by affordable, they mean affordable, with a target retail price of €5,750 (ex. VAT) / $6,300 USD. Before launch, the first 1,000 founders edition vehicles can be ordered with a deposit of €5,000 / $5,550 USD.
The new solar car has been dubbed the Squad, an imaginative amalgamation of solar and quad. It was created by two former Lightyear employees who shared a passion for bringing a high volume, affordable solar electric car to the masses. The target price of the Squad is perhaps the biggest surprise as it launches, enabling millions of new customers to go electric, and opening up entirely business models in one fell swoop. It’s not hard to imagine a company rolling out thousands of Squad electric vehicles in cities, much like Bird and Lime are doing with scooters today, in a car sharing scheme with the possibility to transform the people of the world get around.
Not to gloss over the specs on the Squad, it is indeed a solar-powered low speed electric vehicle. The roof of the Squad is covered in solar cells that produce enough power to provide a meaningful amount of power and range every day. “Our solar-electric Squad can charge up to 9,000 km per year in a sunny country with its own solar roof, making it completely emission-free for most users driving circa 30 km or 1 hour per day for 300 days a year in an urban environment,” Robert Hoevers CEO of Squad Mobility said. “Most vehicles in this segment don’t drive more than 6,000 km per year.”
Initially, the Squad will be offered as a 45 km/h city car build, with an 80 km/h version planned for the future. It is a simple urban people mover, with seating for two full-sized humans and a small storage compartment in the rear. A bench in the rear can seat 2 small children under 1.5 meters / 5 feet where allowed by local regulations.
On the exterior, the Squad is framed up with a full roll cage for safety, but comes with no body panels. That helps keep costs down and lets owners buy what they need as they need it. A side cover set for the Squad will be available for purchase for an additional €300 for those looking for a more traditional driving experience.
A second configuration will be offered that converts the rear bench into a 243-liter cargo hold on the Squad Cargo. It is not hard to imagine this configuration being used as an urban delivery vehicle running or as a city tour vehicle around the streets of just about any city in the world, powered by the sun. For those looking for more range, both configurations can be plugged into a typical wall outlet to top up the batteries from the grid.
The smaller format of the Squad is well-suited to cities, with a footprint that gives owners new options for parking head-in or for use in vehicle sharing fleets where the ability to charge from the sun without the need for additional infrastructure adds real value. “We see a further increase in global urbanization with 90% of the city population living in the suburbs, all venturing into the city center regularly for work, school, shopping or entertainment,” Squad Mobility CEO Robert Hoevers said.
Robert teamed up with Chris Klok to bring their shared vision for compact solar-powered electric vehicles to life. Klok provides the creative vision for Squad as the Chief of Design. “The Squad is conceived as an essential mobility solution, with state-of-the-art technology such as in-wheel motors and a solar panel. This combination will make the Squad accessible for a much larger group of users, without the hassle of maintenance,” Klok said. “It’s no coincidence that the Squad technically resembles a scooter. The first post-war scooters were designed with exactly those values in mind. Today, we offer this for two people, with safety and better protection against the elements.”
Rolling those design parameters into an electric car, Robert came away with a lower than average maximum speed of 45 km/h. “45 km/h is more than the average speed in most cities and the €5000 – €10000 mobility segment still offers plenty of opportunities for innovation compared to other segments,” Hoevers said. “Because of their low speed and weight, these vehicles have a high intrinsic energy efficiency.”
The low maximum speed is a win win, allowing the Squad to deliver unparalleled efficiency which translates to less batteries to purchase up front. For those looking for more range, an additional battery pack option will be offered for purchase.
The Squad is slated to move into production in 2021 for the founding customers in its home market of the Netherlands, before spreading out to other countries in the EU. Ahead of the launch, the team plans to develop a subscription and/or leasing models to open up the vehicle to the maximum number of customers at an unprecedented lease price of around €100 per month.
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