The Dutch startup Squad Mobility has presented its first city electric vehicle, a solar two-seater of the same name. The Squad is already available for pre-order, the price starts at 5,750 Euro plus VAT.
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A solar car from the Netherlands? A few months ago, the startup Lightyear presented the One, a large and correspondingly expensive luxury sedan with solar panels. Two employees, Robert Hoevers and Chris Kolk, then left the Lightyear project to pursue their own project: an affordable solar car for a much larger target group.
The result was the Squad, which stands for Solar Quad. Consequently, the squad is closer to a quad than a classic car – the vehicle is also approved in the L6e class for light four-wheeled vehicles. Initially, the squad is limited to 45 km/h, but “depending on demand and local legislation” an 80 km/h version will also be offered later.
The two passengers sit next to each other, the body reminds a little of a golf cart. At the rear, there is a shelf and two emergency seats on which two children up to 1.25 metres tall can sit in opposite directions. According to the founders, body parts and doors were deliberately omitted “in order to keep costs low and to guarantee efficiency, robustness, durability and easy access”.
Regarding the most important part, the solar cells, CEO Robert Hoevers promises that the solar roof in a sunny country can generate electricity for up to 9,000 kilometres per year, “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,” says Hoevers. “Most vehicles in this segment don’t drive more than 6000 km per year,” he added. If the sun doesn’t shine or more range is needed, the battery can also be charged using a plug or a Squad Mobility portable battery. In addition, additional battery packs can be ordered to increase the range.
Although the vehicles are very different, Hoevers and his chief designer Chris Kolk have taken a detail from the Lightyear One: The Squad is also powered by wheel hub motors. However, Squad does not yet name any performance data. With the low weight of the two-seater, the performance should also play a subordinate role. The vehicle concept itself (for example without doors) will probably be the more important factor in the purchase decision than a few kW more or less power.
Deliveries expected to launch in 2021
“The goal was to develop distinctive, youthful, accessible and fresh design for this new category and to disrupt the car archetype, of people moving about in their own little box,” says Kolk. He doesn’t see the lack of doors as a problem. “We figured that this is good enough for most of us. Waiting for public transport and/or walking that last mile to your destination is also not often 100% dry. If you really want to be 100% dry.” However, side protection covers are to be offered as an option.
Squad Mobility does not see its concept as the only answer to traffic problems in large cities, but as a supplement to sustainable mobility concepts. “Cycling and/or public transport are great, but not always the best solution, for example in bad weather or for people who don’t live near a train station,” says Hoevers. “A standing car takes up ten square meters of floor space, while a squad only takes up two square meters. Therefore, four squads can be parked across a parking lot.”
In addition to the two-seater version, Squad has also developed a Cargo and Deliver version in which the cargo is transported at the rear. Deliveries in the EU are scheduled to start in 2021. As previously mentioned, Squad is already accepting pre-orders. For the first customers of the version with the maximum range, the reservation fee is 5,000 euros, for the versions produced later, the fee drops to 500 euros. From next year, subscription and leasing models will also be offered, with Squad Mobility aiming for a monthly leasing rate of 100 euros.
Update 18 May 2020: The Dutch startup Squad Mobility presents a design update for its solar two-seater Squad, which was presented in November 2019. The small electric car is now also available with doors: The choice can be made between half and full doors. The latter version is also available with air conditioning.
Originally, Squad Mobility wanted to offer the city vehicle only on the EU market. But now the vehicle can also be reserved from outside the EU – more precisely, anywhere in the world. Production and delivery dates are still open, however. The reservation fee outside the EU is just 5 Euros.
Update 16 May 2022
The Dutch start-up Squad Mobility presents the final version of its solar two-seater, which was first presented three years ago and is scheduled to go into production in 2023. The Squad can be bought starting from 6,250 euros net and can be reserved now via fully-refundable, non-binding pre-orders for the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and France. CEO Robert Hoevers added that the company plans to expand through Europe moving south and east, while exploring opportunities to potentially enter the US market someday.
Due to its classification as a L6e vehicle in the EU, it generally only requires a moped license to operate. As a result, drivers can be as young as 14, 15, or 16, depending on which country they are driving in. In terms of driver power, the SQUAD is propelled by two, 2 kW rear in-wheel motors, for a 4 kW total, which are powered by four swappable 1.6 kWh lithium-ion battery packs. The resulting range stands at a proud 100 km (62 miles) on all four packs, while the Squad allows for a top speed of 45 km/h (28 mph).
In addition to regenerative braking and 220V charging, the solar panels on the SQUAD’s roof can garner an additional 20 km (12.4 mi) of range a day, estimated on an average summer day in the EU.
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