Inside The Gated Community

Emergence of the “Do Everything Vehicle”

Admit it, wouldn’t be nice to have one vehicle to tackle both your on-road and off-road needs? Everyone knows the limitations of the current stock of PTVs (personal transportation vehicles for those of you in Rio Linda). To a large degree they are literally fair-weather friends; that is, not much to tool around in in rainy weather, much less those cool days, when the degrees barely reach 50. (Please note that a lot of, although not all, my readership resides in the so-called Sunbelt, but even those folks get uncomfortable weather when the blue-northers out of Texas beat a path through Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, and even reach the norther tier of Florida.)

Wouldn’t it be nice to have just one vehicle that could handle the interior trek within your community, yet be able to jump onto highways and byways to get to the local Walmart (and back)? An interesting development out Sweden suggests that maybe the opportunity will come your way. Yes, from Sweden of all places—mainly known these days for losing submarines in those famous fiords. (By the way, I can say these things because I am half-Swede on my mother’s side.)

The Uniti, a small, versatile electric vehicle

What is it that the Swedes have done, that will restore the ancient heritage of Eric the Red? (For those in Rio Linda, he, not Christopher Columbus, discovered America.) It’s called the Uniti One, a small electric vehicle, billed as an urban car. As you can see from the picture of the Uniti below, it’s fully-enclosed and hardly resembles, in terms of style, our beloved PTVs—and in terms of the performance features which have been released so far, which actually isn’t that much, there will be little resemblance there, either. The stand out differentiating feature is the asserted range, which is about 185 miles on full charge (3 hours, 10 minutes) with a motor delivering 22 kWh of power. The vehicle can be recharged via a DC system in 30 minutes for a 200 km or 125-mile range, another breakthrough, if attainable.

Another differentiating feature is one of the optional steering systems, comprised of a drive-by-wire, center pivot “joy stick”, thus bringing all the fun of those digital games you play on X-Box or PlayStation into the reality of driving in the real world. It should be noted that “traditional” steering mechanism will also be available. The Uniti will come in two, four, and five seat models and range in price from about $15,000 to $24,000—clearly a welcome step down from the high-end electrics from the likes of Tesla and BMW.

Uniti may foreshadow a new product/service concept from factory to your doorstep

Uniti, the company, has put together an impressive set of some 24 partners, including well-recognized names such as Nvidia, Siemens, and Borg Warner. The team also includes robotics systems companies, Kuka Robotics (factory automation systems) and Fanuc Robots (industrial robots).​ At the recent launch of Uniti One, Uniti’s management touted a scalable manufacturing process under the guidance of Kuka Robotics that promised greater efficiency, an individualized product, conforming to customer specifications, and ultimately resulting in a customized “computer on wheels”, and delivered to your doorstep—something like ordering a kitchen appliance from Amazon. Thus, Uniti promises a low-cost, relatively high performing electric vehicle emerging out of a streamlined process from drawing board design, to manufacturing, to personalized distribution.

Can it be done?

The quick answer at this point is, as the Missourian famously said, “Show me!” We’ll have a much better idea by 2019 when the commercial launch is scheduled. In the meantime, however, you are invited by Uniti to become an early adopter, a beta tester, by signing up at https://www.uniti.earth/order/. You can order your specifications/options in mid-2018, according to the company, when it releases its vehicle configurator.

We don’t think of the gated community as an incubator for a modern system of urban mobility, yet the setting is perfect for that task. It is a relatively controlled environment in terms of Uniti but at the same time has enough movement and traffic to test a wide range of vehicle attributes. Most importantly, the concept can be judged by a very discerning group of consumers. The feedback would be most valuable.

Contact the Author: Steve Metzger at smetzger@smallvehicleresource.com.  Or check out our website at www.smallvehicleresource.com, where you will find an extensive database of vehicle models and can make side-by-side comparisons of vehicles based on a full set of specifications.

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