Squad Mobility envisions the ideal urban vehicle as a compact, affordable EV with swappable batteries, solar panels and sufficient range to satisfy the demands of city drivers. It measures 6.5 feet in size.
A Dutch startup in its early stages, Squad, recently unveiled the final design for the quadricycle. It is currently assembling prototypes in Breda (the Netherlands). The base price for the vehicle is EUR5,750 (or $6,790), according to Squad. If buyers add extra features such as heating, cooling, and removable doors to the vehicle, it will cost more.
Squad will present prototypes in the fall according to Robert Hoevers (CEO and co-founder), who spoke recently. The car will be delivered by 2022, with pre-production expected to commence this year.
Like many new players in the electric car market, Squad will require more funding to achieve its goal.
The company received an undisclosed sum from Bloomit Ventures in June. Hoevers believes Squad will require an additional EUR3.5million ($4.1 million), and another EUR8million ($9.6 million) in order to reach its production targets. Although the company hasn’t yet made public a round, it says that they are in discussions with several interested parties.
Interested customers can go on Squad’s website and pay a EUR5 reserve fee, but where Squad really sees its path to market is with shared mobility companies. According to the startup, it’s in discussions with several car-sharing and micromobility operators who might be interested in diversifying their fleets by purchasing a small, intelligent vehicle.
Squad is an acronym that combines the words “solar”, “quadricycle” and “steam”. It can seat two people and has a top speed of 30 mph. The Squad is powered by 2 swappable lithium-ion batteries, each with around 1.6 Kwh and a combined range of approximately 62 miles. Similar to electric mopeds’ battery range and capacity, this is also similar.
This should provide enough mileage for the typical European city driver. Squad added a 250-watt solar power panel to its vehicle. This, according to Squad, adds 12 more miles per day due to Europe’s high sun.
Squad has emerged at the intersection between new mobility categories, EV charging innovation and shared mobility operators. This could appeal to those looking for more uses.
Electric mopeds are being added to the fleets of shared micromobility businesses that have e-scooters or ebikes. Operators who want to reach a wider audience and are more comfortable riding in four-wheeled vehicles might be interested in the Squad.
Operators may also be attracted by the potential savings that can come from harnessing sunlight’s power. The labor cost of charging and swapping batteries is a major obstacle to micromobility’s profitability. This could be alleviated by a vehicle that is always charged, at most during daylight hours.
“It isn’t the idea to drive directly with solar,” Hoevers told TechCrunch. The idea is to charge the battery with solar, then buffer it. It is a healthy method of charging your battery. The sun drip charges the batteries more than once a day. Your batteries shouldn’t be charged to 100 percent. For a longer battery lifespan, keep your batteries at 50%- 60%.
Hoevers stated that Squad is in discussions with micromobility providers and shared riders to present the quadricycle. TechCrunch has confirmed these numbers with several micromobility operators, which are within the reach of the Squad car.
Squad plans to outfit its vehicles with sensors, cameras and other smart features, such as remote diagnostics, maintenance and repair. This will increase Squad’s appeal to share operators who are looking for a fleet of vehicles that can be integrated in its management systems. Hoevers and Chris Klok have combined their 40-year experience as mobility professionals and shared experiences at Lightyear long range solar electric vehicle company, which has helped them to create a solid CAN bus system and drivetrain that can take on new features.
It is possible that Squad will sell fleets of vehicles to car-sharing or micromobility platforms. This depends on which vehicle category it ends up being in. The Squad car, with its speed and current weight will fall under the category L6e for light four-wheeled vehicles.
Hoevers stated that there are many tax and cost benefits to this segment. Hoevers stated that there are no traffic charges, no road taxes, parking fees or insurance fees in this segment. In most markets .”
Hoevers stated that the company may also be producing an even more powerful L7, capable of traveling up to 45 miles per hour. This might make it more suitable for larger cities where there are more hills.
Squad isn’t the only company to have added solar panels on its electric cars. Sono Motors, a German startup, told TechCrunch it is on track for starting deliveries of the electric Sion vehicle in 2023. The vehicle’s exterior is composed of hundreds of solar cells that have been integrated into polymer instead of glass and can add up to nearly 22 miles of extra battery life per day.
The Sion is still not available, but the Sono app invites owners to use the Sono app to car-share their vehicle. This will allow them to take advantage of cars that are otherwise unused and parked for the majority of the day. As of Thursday, Sono is expanding this vision to allow any car to be shared via the Sono app.
Aptera Motors in California, which has pledged to produce the first mass-produced solar vehicle this year, raised $4m through a Series B this February. It is financing fiberglass, carbon fibre, and batteries for its tricycle-like spaceship design. Aptera claims its car, available to pre-order, could run between $25,900 and $46,900. It will feature 34 feet of solar cells, which can provide an extra 40 mile of power on clear days.
Although each player in the space of solar-powered electric vehicles has their own style and tech, they all have the potential to find ways to reduce the impact on the grid.
In the Netherlands,