Dutch startup Squad Mobility is now accepting pre-orders for the Squad, a solar-powered electric car priced at a mere $6500. It doesn’t offer the geewizardry of a Tesla; in fact, it looks more like a golf cart than a car. It has a range of 62 miles and a top speed of 45 km/h (28 mph). Perhaps one has to live in a crowded urban setting like Amsterdam where parking for full size cars is practically nonexistent to appreciate the need for such a vehicle. In those cities, bicycles and mopeds are the preferred mode of transport. The Squad offers protection from the elements for two people for an affordable price. The company plans to offer monthly leases for as little as €100 a month.
Squad Mobility says the vehicle is a step up from a moped and will go on sale in Europe in 2023 with a starting price of €6,250. It is classified as an L6e vehicle, meaning people 16 and older can zip around in one without a full driver’s license. It can also be parked perpendicular to the curb like a moped, rather than parallel to it. According to Business Insider, the Squad is ideal for running quick errands around town and could be a suitable alternative to a second car for lots of folks. It could take the place of a bicycle for longer trips or on rainy days.
3 Ways To Charge
The Squad comes equipped with a solar panel integrated into its roof, which Squad Mobility says can add 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) of driving range daily, depending on how sunny it is, of course. Many drivers would not be able to depend on solar charging for their daily driving needs, but it is nice to know your vehicle is able to charge itself while parked. The Squad can be plugged into any wall outlet (which in Europe is 240 volts) or the batteries are removable and can be carried indoors to be plugged in and charged.
The company says the Squad is designed for vehicle sharing platforms and envisions a future where people can locate one via a smartphone app. It plans to sell a battery charging device that will make swapping batteries easier for fleet operators. It has some space for carrying stuff, a few cup holders, a USB port, and a device to hold a smartphone.
Squad Mobility Expansion Plans
The Squad is not totally unique in Europe. Citroen has its new battery-electric Ami, a pint-sized urban vehicle that is also priced at €6000 that looks a little less like a golf cart but lacks a solar panel on the roof. Sono Motors has a more car-like solar-powered vehicle, but it is larger than the Squad and starts at €16,000. Arcimoto offers a very tasty alternative electric 3-wheeled vehicle that has a top speed of 75 mph and a range of 100 miles that starts at $17,900. You could almost buy three Squad vehicles for that.
The company says it is eyeing the US market, where the Squad could appeal to city dwellers who only need to travel a short distance each day and need a vehicle that is easy to park. $6,500 is a lot less than the cost of a used car today — never mind a new one — if someone needs a second car but doesn’t want to spend a lot of money for one.
Is there a market for a diminutive low speed solar-powered EV in the US? Sure. It may not be a big market compared to SUVs and pickup trucks, but a few folks could find the Squad is exactly the right vehicle at the right price.
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