Squad Mobility has a new solar electric car that is being developed by two former Lightyear employees. And the affordable Squad solar car could be exactly what cities need to solve growing congestion problems seen around the world.
The Squad car is being pitched as an affordable solution for intercity transportation.
It’s a two-seater neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV) with a top speed of 45 km/h (28 mph). An 80 km/h (50 mph) version is also being planned, should there be enough demand for it.
The initial version’s lower top speed would keep it registered as an L6e light four-wheeled EV in Europe.
The little solar electric car has a planned retail price of €5,750 (US$6,330), which is actually relatively inexpensive compared to other light electric vehicles.
The Squad solar car lacks doors or side panels – an apparent cost-savings measure according to Squad Mobility. But the company says that its roof, windshield, and floor should keep riders relatively dry during rain showers. And for those that want to be protected from sideways rain in the windiest of downpours, Squad also offers removable side covers as well.
Inside there is enough space to fit two passengers side-by-side, and there’s even room for two children in the rear seats, where legally permitted. The Squad solar car also includes safety features such as a full roll cage, seat belts, and the inherent stability of a four-wheeled vehicle. Those features should help keep riders safer than electric bicycle-cars which are largely just plastic bodies mounted on tricycle frames.
As CEO Robert Hoevers explained in a statement sent to Electrek:
“Emissions and traffic congestion are the two main issues in today’s urban mobility. 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. Most vehicles in this segment don’t drive more than 6000 km per year. Extra range can be charged directly from the grid with an ordinary plug and/or our portable batteries.”
In addition to its high efficiency and low energy use, the Squad solar car is being touted for its space efficiency.
According to the company, the Squad takes up around 20% of the footprint of a typical parked car. That means many more Squad solar cars could fit in the same crowded downtown streets and parking lots.
Squad’s Chief of Design Chris Klok further elaborated:
“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. 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. In some ways the Squad opens up a completely new segment. The strength of the concept is that we keep both efficiency and costs low, by focusing on bare essentials.”
Squad is currently looking into sharing programs, with a target price of around €100 ($US110) per month for subscription plans, as well as direct retail sales. The company is currently taking pre-orders for the first retail models, which it plans to deliver in 2021. Deposits start at €500 ($US550).
I love everything about this. Smaller cars? Electric? Solar-powered? Sign me up!
And sure, it kind of looks like a golf cart. But as much as I’d like to just toot around all day in a golf cart, I’d rather see a properly designed NEV like this that has passed road regulations and is actually designed for urban transportation.
I’ll admit that the 50 mph model sounds a lot more interesting than the 28 mph option, but they have to start somewhere! And since most downtowns and inner-city areas can be navigated at those speeds (especially in Europe), this definitely makes sense to me.
I also think it could work well for a sharing model. If the Squad cars can generate most of their own power from the roof-mounted solar panels, the logistics of keeping a shared fleet charged would be much simpler. Of course, I’ll want to see more than some renderings before I put my money on the line, but I think this is a great start.
And yes, practical solar-powered cars have always been something of a dream due to the limited efficiency and space for solar panels on cars, but by reducing the speed and thus the energy demand of the vehicles, these solar panels could actually contribute a healthy amount of the vehicle’s energy requirement. And it’s not even a new concept either – it’s been tried and tested on the popular GEM NEV already. So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
What do you think of the Squad solar car? Let us know in the comments below.
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