Squad Mobility eyes shared platforms as target for its compact solar

Squad Mobility’s vision of the ideal urban vehicle is a low-cost EV equipped with solar panels, swappable batteries, and enough zip and range in its small 6.5-foot package to meet the needs of city drivers.

The early-stage Dutch startup, which recently revealed the final design of its quadricycle, is now assembling a working prototype in Breda, Netherlands. The squad has said that the base price of the vehicle will be €5,750 ($6,790), excluding taxes. This price goes up if buyers want to add features such as removable doors, air conditioning, heating and extra batteries.

The squad plans to introduce prototypes this fall, The company’s CEO and co-founder Robert Howers said in a recent interview. Pre-production is also expected to start this year with the target of Car delivery at the end of 2022.

The squad, like many other new entrants in the EV car landscape, will need more funding to reach its goal.

In June, the company Raised an undisclosed amount from Bloomit Ventures. To reach their production targets, Hovers estimated that the squad would need an additional €3.5 million ($4.1 million) for their next round, and then a further €8 million (to be able to deliver to the first squads). $9.6 million) would be required. The company has yet to publicly announce a round, but says it is in talks with various interested parties.

Interested customers can visit the squad’s website and pay a €5 reserve fee, but where Squad really sees its way to market is with shared mobility companies. The startup says it is in talks with several micromobility and car sharing operators interested in diversifying their fleet with a compact, smart vehicle.

The Squad, which is a combination of the words “solar” and “quadricycle”, seats two, punches up to 30 miles per hour and is fueled by two swappable batteries with a capacity of about 1.6 kW and a collective range of about 62. miles. This is similar in battery capacity and range to electric mopeds.

For the average European city driver, this should be a sufficient range. The squad also installed a 250-watt solar panel in the vehicle, which the company says gives Europe another 12 miles per day given the amount of sun exposure.

Rendering of a squad charging station for swappable batteries that can be used by shared mobility operators

Squad is coming at the intersection of new mobility categories and EV charging innovation, which could be attractive to shared mobility operators looking to solve more use cases.

Shared micromobility companies are starting to add electric mopeds to their fleets of e-scooters and e-bikes. The Squad may appeal to operators who want to appeal to a wider demographic, and is notably more comfortable in a four-wheeled vehicle.

The potential savings from harnessing the power of the sun can attract operators as well. In the world of micromobility, the labor costs associated with swapping out batteries or charging vehicles represent a path to profitability. A vehicle that is constantly slightly charged, at least during daylight hours, can help reduce that pain point.

“The idea is not to drive directly on solar,” hovers told . “The idea is to buffer the battery with solar and then drive on the battery. The sun charges the battery for more or less the entire day, which is actually a very healthy way to charge. You don’t want to drain your battery to 100% You want to keep them at around 50% to 60% all the time for longer battery life.”

hovers Said the squad is in talks with shared micromobility providers to pitch quadricycles, and has found that most dockless vehicles see about four to five rides per day and drive about 36 to 38 miles per day, which has confirmed with a few micromobility operators and those within range of Squad Car.

Squad also intends to equip its vehicles with cameras, sensors and other smart features like remote diagnostics and maintenance, which will make the company more attractive to shared operators looking for a fleet that can be integrated into its management platforms. Is. Howers also says that he and his co-founder, Chris Klok, have used their collective 40 years of experience in mobility and shared at long-range solar EV company Lightyear, to develop a robust CAN bus and drivetrain to which new features can be added.

Whether Squad ends fleet sales on a micromobility platform or a car-sharing platform may depend on the category in which the vehicle ends up. With its current speed and weight, the squad car will be in the L6E category for light four wheelers.

“There are interesting cost and tax benefits to this segment,” Hovers said. “For example, there is no congestion fee, no road tax, no parking fee, low insurance fee and no car driving license is required in most markets.”

Hovers said the company is also looking at producing a more powerful L7 that can go up to a top speed of about 45 mph, which may be better for cities with more hills.

Competition

Squad is not the only company that has added solar panels to its electric vehicles. Germany-based startup Sono Motors told that it is on track to begin deliveries of its electric Sion vehicle by 2023. The exterior of the vehicle is made of hundreds of solar cells that have been integrated into polymer instead of glass and can add up to about 22 miles of additional battery life per day.

Although the Cyan hasn’t been released yet, the Sono app is already inviting vehicle owners to engage in car-sharing in a way reminiscent of Airbnb for Cyan to use vehicles that would otherwise be Park and sit idle for most. Day. As of Thursday, Sono is expanding this vision to allow any car to be shared through the Sono app.

Aptera Motors, a California-based company that has promised to roll out “the first mass-produced solar car” this February, has raised $4 million in a Series A this February that it will use for its spaceships, such as fiberglass, Doing to pay for carbon fiber and battery – looking at tricycles. Aptera says that its vehicle, which is available for pre-order and could cost anywhere between $25,900 and $46,900, will be built with 34 square feet of solar cells that can cover an additional 40 miles on a clear day. of battery capacity can be added.

Each player in the solar-powered EV sector has differences in technology, market avenues and style, but they are all looking for ways to potentially reduce the strain on the electrical grid.

In the Netherlands, new electric cars make up 25% of the total market share, and this number will only increase. It may not be possible to power every plug in the grid for all those vehicles in the long run, especially as industries in all sectors are beginning to electrify.

While it is clear that the technology is not yet in place for vehicles to run entirely on solar, Squad and other companies are laying the foundation for future solar technology.

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