BARCELONA – Spanish car maker SEAT presented on Monday an electric prototype concept car, which was designed as a shared urban mobility and connectivity platform, on the opening day of the 19th edition of the Mobile World Congress in the city of Barcelona.
The president of SEAT, Luca de Meo, said the new product, Minimo, had been custom designed to appeal to car-sharing companies given it is predicted to provide up to 50 percent higher profit margins, adding he was confident of a positive market reaction to its launch.
“The industry is adapting to changes in the way customers view personal transport,” De Meo said. “With the Minimo, the vision of our first product designed to purpose. SEAT is addressing those challenges, combining autonomous driving technologies with electric powertrain systems to create the future of urban mobility.”
With a size closer to a standard motorcycle than a four-wheeled vehicle (2.5 meters (8.2 feet) long by 1.24m wide), this concept pod car, with more than a passing resemblance to Renault’s Tweeze, can seat a driver and a passenger in tandem while occupying only a 3.1 square meters of surface compared to the 7.2 m2 of an average car, meaning it could even park in motorcycle-only urban parking slots.
This quadricycle is powered by four interchangeable batteries capable of delivering a fully charged power cycle in a matter of seconds while guaranteeing a range of over 100 km (62 miles).
This system does not require the vehicle to be taken to a fixed recharge point, which should, in theory, contribute to slashing car-sharing companies operational costs by up to 50 percent.
The carmaker’s CEO also said the Minimo’s design had been “adapted to the mobile platforms that will characterize future urban mobility, whereby traffic is going to be restricted.”
De Meo suggested a scenario where citizens could use of these micro-cars for the same fee of a bus fare, with the added advantage of a door-to-door transport service.
Alejandro Mesonero, Design Director at SEAT said “the design of the Minimo shows the way we understand urban mobility: efficiency, high value and cost saving, combined with vibrant design.”
SEAT’s design director added “Our Minimo demonstrates there is space for fun and style when we are talking about electric and shared vehicles. More than ever, design matters.”
The vehicle also offers future 5G connectivity solutions providing a seamless digital experience (both private and sharing) based on the latest digital key and wireless Android Auto technology.
A central digital display set behind the vehicle’s steering wheel combines the functions of cluster instrument and digital content from the user’s smartphone suited for safe-driving requirements.
SEAT and Google are jointly developing technical solutions that will enable “fluid, simple and intuitive” connectivity managed from the vehicle’s central onboard screen.
With its Google Assistant on Android Auto, future users will keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel while using voice commands to remain wirelessly connected, manage tasks, control media devices and other new functions such as facial recognition to determine maximum speed limit according to drivers’ age.
The Minimo is the next step in SEAT’s urban mobility strategy after its launch, some months ago, of its 100 percent electric two-wheeled eXS KickScooter powered by Segway.
De Meo also announced that SEAT would later this year open a software store in central Barcelona that is slated to employ over 100 specialists.
The Minimo’s next major presentation is to take place at the Geneva International Motor Show next March.