Dutch firm's Solar City Car could bring SEVs to new mainstream status
Netherlands-based Squad Mobility has officially launched the SQUAD Solar City Car, after three years of development. It's a solar vehicle that could provide strong competition for the e-scooter as a highly accessible urban mobility vehicle.
The SQUAD Solar City Car is a two-seater solar electric vehicle (SEV) with a footprint of only 2.4 m², meaning three SQUAD cars can fit into one traditional parking spot. In a number of EU countries, it can be driven without a driver's license.
So safety was a high priority in the design, Robert Hoevers, CEO of Squad Mobility told IE in an interview.
"We have put a lot of emphasis on safety," he said. "We actually did a lot more engineering on safety than legally required in this class. We have implemented a full front and rear crash structure and roll cage."
Is solar charging going mainstream?
Another benefit of the SQUAD car is the fact that it can recharge almost anywhere. Left on a sunny parking spot for long enough, it will recharge solely using the solar panels on its roof — charging up to 12.4 miles (20 km) of range per day, depending on weather conditions.
It's an ideal early implementation of solar electric vehicle (SEV) technology as the lightweight vehicle is designed for short rides that don't require a huge amount of electricity.
Due to its capacity for shared mobility — riders will be able to use the SQUAD car for short periods via an app — it will also allow many people to see what solar is capable of without needing to commit to buying a car.
"A sharing platform can have the function of a 'live showroom' where consumers can test drive the Squad," Hoevers explained to IE. "On the pre-order side it is mainly private owners and on the B2B side, it is mainly fleet and sharing platforms. I expect it to be around 50-50 in the short term."
"It is hard to predict how this ratio will evolve, but I do expect also a lot of private owners who are looking for an alternative for their second car," he continued.
The SQUAD's specs
Squad Mobility was co-founded by Hoevers and Chris Klok, both of whom used to work for Dutch solar vehicle firm Lightyear, which has developed the Lightyear One, an SEV its CEO Lex Hoefsloot says will be capable of driving for "months without charging".
Hoevers and Klok have a combined forty years of experience in scooters, motorcycles, flying car technologies, and Formula E. In its statement, Squad Mobility explained that the SQUAD was "designed to make solar-powered mobility accessible for everyone." It will be available in 2023 from €6250 ($6,522) and is now available for pre-order.
The SQUAD runs on two, 2 kW rear in-wheel motors (4 kW total) powered by four easily swappable 1.6 kWh lithium-ion battery packs that are charged at stations — meaning it doesn't only run on solar. The lightweight vehicle has a range of 100 km (62 miles) and can reach a top speed of 28 mph (45 km/h).
More big automakers are starting to take solar car technology seriously, including Hyundai with its IONIC 5. But due to its potential to reach a wider audience via the inherent accessibility of urban mobility, the SQUAD car may be uniquely positioned to help bring SEVs into the mainstream.
E-scooters are seen by some as a great boon for public transport and others as a nuisance in city centers, so it will be interesting to see the reception the SQUAD receives when it first hits the streets in Europe. For a better idea of what it will look like, take a look at the SQUAD launch video below.