The UK Built Swedish Uniti One credit Uniti Media Package
Al Castro's picture

The 2020 UK Built Swedish Uniti One Electric Mini “Smart Phone Car” Debuts Now to Ramp Up Production Late 2019 to Early 2020

While Tesla takes care of the other high end of the electric vehicle market with Models S, 3, X, and soon Y and U, Uniti, the Swedish electric car startup maker is trying to find an angle on the opposite end by soon shortly putting an unorthodox 2 seat high tech and feature rich micro BEV into production. This car will be a hit in the EU, India, and Brazil no doubt, but in NA? Hmm. Well I hope so.
Advertisement


Uniti Sweden AB is a modern mobility BEV vehicular technology solutions company based in Lund Sweden, with a financial operations and fund raising office arm in London, UK. In existence since only 2015, the micro electric car startup company started as a lab experiment at Lund University in Sweden. There are many fascinating ways that for the last 150 years car companies have come into existence. There are few if any that can say they come strictly from academia. The initial research project aim was to find ways to improve the societal and environmental impact of modern cars. I guess Uniti succeeded:

  • Uniti’s ethos is about constantly finding ways through technology to improve the automobile from the inside out in all aspects, including the corporate culture of the manufacturer.
  • Debut model is a rear wheel drive, dual motor, two door lift-back with rear flip up hatch.
  • Ideal as a second car, a commuter car, a college car, a local errands car, and a city urban micro car with an affordable price point.
  • Two seat lift back will be the launch production vehicle, four and five seat variants will follow sometime after that.
  • Features on the prototypes that regulations prohibit in the production models will eventually find a way into production.
  • Purposed designed to be a level 5-6 SAE autonomous micro commuter car the owner can also drive himself when desired.
  • Engineering, design, function, capacity, usage, all focused to have the “car catch up with the smart phone era.”
  • Less moving parts across the board means across the dash too, with less levers, switches, and buttons to make user experience more seamless.
  • Micro car in a two consecutively arranged seating configuration, passenger sits behind driver.
  • Build materials are all synthetic lightweight biocomposite and carbon fiber to reduce weight and costs.
  • Target Specifications*
  • 240km range (149 miles)
  • 130km/h top speed (81 mph)
  • Rear wheel drive
  • Dual motors output of 120kW
  • 26kWh battery pack, DC fast charging
  • 25min from 20-80% on standard charge
  • 900kg gross weight, 450 kg curb weight
  • 0 to 80 km/h in less than 3.5 seconds
  • Top speed of 90 km/h to 130 km/h depending on the version.
  • Battery Pack is removable and portable as a backup, spare, or auxiliary unit, also handy for urban apartment living with no charger station.
  • The car shelf will be a charging supply and source with EV plug outlets and adapters in case another EV needs a recharge.
  • Plug in charging is a standard feature, with induction eventually becoming available.
  • Feature technologies designed in-house: such as a steer-by-wire system, an interactive HUD windscreen, a digital human-machine interaction capacity, as well as autonomous driving functions
  • A Pre-Order Waitlist of 3,000 cars so far is available online with a €150 deposit. https://www.uniti.earth/order/
  • Two door variant goes into production late 2019/early 2020.
  • CEO says the car will eventually be available for sale in the US.
  • MSRP for the launch two door variant is $€14,900 or $17,000 USD.

Uniti, the Company Early Days

Have times quickly changed from the days of being a research project to a potential big player in the niche electric car market. From there, the project began to morph into an efficient operation of finding, using, designing or creating, and then testing technology that can be used in all aspects of the vehicular dynamic: how to design, build, use, drive, and then test any kind of technology that in some way can improve the making of, then the practical use of, then the aesthetics of an automobile for its maximum efficiencies. As technology has ways of impacting things like culture, like social media does, the project was also about finding how their tech could effect culture like the corporate one, from vehicular CAD design to software used for the entire assembly process of a car, to the abstract industrial complexity of car production. Think of improving the tent. You know what I mean.

In 2016 when the company was finally born to its founding, by then it got so efficient and innovative, it was given a business model and became a business entity of their own as a full fledged tech startup, with a particular focus on the efficient and effective application of modern technologies. The company started to develop a prototype vehicle, which during that time was the beginning of the reintroduction of the consumer mass market battery electric car in the US, the first introduction there was 100 years ago, and being the only failure so far.

While Tesla was already in its eighth year of barreling down the Fremont assembly line with an electric vehicle that was by then still the rave and still is today, and that’s the high-end luxury high performance Model S sports saloon, Uniti had the vision to take some of those Tesla-like ideals to develop something that would take care of the other end of the emerging BEV market: a four wheeled two seat microcar laden with state of the art technology.

Controversy of Where to Build

So after all the planning Dyson Corporation did for an electric car held in secret for years in the UK, recently Sir James Dyson steps in it with his decision to build a British based electric car in Singapore of all places. And it seems Uniti is stepping up to the UK plate by the next day after the disastrous Dyson Singapore announcement, Uniti announced its UK plans to be investing its soon to be born manufacturing arm in the heart of the UK racing circuit in Silverstone by building Uniti One there.

Uniti Sweden AB believes that the UK is essential to its marketing strategy of being its European base. While Dyson’s says its crucial supply chain it already uses to make its electric appliances is in East Asia, Uniti says its supply chain it crucially needs to keep its vehicle lightweight is in the UK. It decided instead going home to build their car, they’re going to set up production in Silverstone Park, home to the British Grand Prix.

Capable of producing up to 300,000 vehicles per year, Uniti will start with just a fraction of that to see how things go. Silverstone will be the model the company will use to try to franchise its factory elsewhere in the world. A few months after the two door variant is launched, the four and five door variants will follow. What makes the Silverstone project unique in typical Uniti fashion is that they will be using 3D printing in some of its production techniques. This could be a money drain in some ways, but a supply chain thus money saver in other ways.

Uniti One, the Car

A Microlino Isetta this car is definitely not. In fact, I say it’s the kind of car millionaires could envy each other having as a golf cart on their country club grounds. It’s way under their price point, but I bet their wives wouldn’t even mind using this car as a daily driver to run quick errands in their tony neighborhoods, it’s that sleek and chic looking. Launch unveiled in 2017, the car is called Uniti One. The best way to describe this car is not that it is a ground up new vehicle, but more accurately say, it is from the inside out, a whole new different kind of electric vehicle in concept and execution. It’s about finding new innovative ways of thinking about what modern mobility is and should be, and then start thinking outside the box to improve upon what you already been working on in, out, around the car, and the company that builds it. That’s what the some 50 employees at Uniti have been doing for the last 5 or so years.

From Uniti’s website: “Uniti is an agile electric vehicle optimized for energy and resource efficiency, safety, and manufacturing scalability. We focus on a premium design and build quality whilst delivering a modernized user experience, and we aim to deliver these affordable electric vehicles to the mass market, ushering a new era for personal urban transport.”

“Our vehicle is designed to achieve seamless human interaction, like that of modern flagship smartphones, and by using careful design and optimized manufacturing processes the carbon footprint of the vehicle is dramatically reduced.” The company also researches at such lengths to find more efficiencies in the assembly process before the assembly line is even built: “Since then, we have been creating strategic partnerships in preparation for mass production, such as our partnership with Siemens Nordics whose software enables the entire production process to be planned in a virtual setting before implementation in the physical world.”

So after the blueprints showed what they wanted to do, the next step was finding people who could help them finance it so they can make prototypes for pre-production and get ready for ramp up. They are now ready to take their fascinating car to the next level, and that’s production. They just need a bit more money to get them there.

Global Crowdfunding Success

The prototype development is funded through an equity-crowdfunding campaign on the Swedish platform FundedByMe, which was supported by 570 investors who invested €1,227,990. The company placed display cars at Media Markt locations in Stockholm and Malmö, with VR test-drives available.

From their website: ¨Uniti has come a long way thanks to the support of our global community of investors, totaling over 1,000 people from 28 countries. This November, we are offering crowd investors another opportunity to stake a claim in our future by making a limited number of shares available through the Crowdcube platform. We anticipate this to go quickly, which is why we’re offering our community priority access to our investment page before it goes live to the general public. Register your interest in investing via the form [by clicking here] to be among the first to be notified.”

Final Assessment:

The Uniti One is a very unique car, perhaps a bit over pricey for what it offers. It is smaller as a microcar in the same segment as the SmartforTwo electric, than the next subcompact BEV coming to market soon, the Sion from Sono Motors. If you remember this was the German Bavarian BEV car that has solar panels as range extenders all about its body, that nobody believes online will work, but we’ll wait to see.

But in the case of Uniti, I noticed in comments sections across different online publications that people are under the impression that Uniti won´t be sold here in North America. Actually that´s not the impression I received. One of the YouTube videos shows CEO Lewis Horne telling a reporter that the car will be available for US sale, in fact there will be a US launch. But ordering the car online is a separate operation. That’s for worldwide delivery. So if you preorder the vehicle there you can have it available soon in the US. Click here to order one with a €150 deposit.

What that confusion may be based upon is that Uniti would like to manufacture the vehicle as a franchise in various global markets. In other words, to save costs and make as much profit possible, Uniti would prefer if a company builds the car instead of themselves, but frankly unless they do it for themselves in North America, then I don’t see that scenario happening here, unless Uniti has already something planned or they’re in the process of working on it. Just as Ford and Chrysler got rid of most if not all of their smaller passenger cars in recent years, and in Ford´s case just a few months ago, and in a few particular instances in just one model year they wiped out all of their cars, I really don´t see how Uniti can make any profit on such a small car here in the US.

Thank goodness they’re a tiny electric startup, because if they were much bigger like VW or Ford size they’d be in serious trouble if that were the case. If they were Tesla as well, that could spell trouble. It seems hopeful that they also have two larger other variants of the car coming.

The fact of the matter is making a microcar still requires a large outlay of capital to initiate production, and you´d have to sell in large volumes to make money. And microcars are a low margin inventory product. If Uniti were willing to get clever enough to be gimmicky with their brand, and do something unusual like what Mini Cooper does with theirs, which is one of the reasons Mini has been able to survive these recent years of the North American passenger car crisis, still selling small cars in this now large SUV world. Mini takes their cars upmarket by accessorizing the hell out of them loaded with options to double the price. You can easily turn a $20,000 Mini into a $40,000 made for me project.

I tell people and it’s true, a Mini Cooper can be customized in more ways than any Rolls Royce can. Uniti should consider this with One. With Mini car doormats, and Mini Union Jack side view mirrors, then things like Mini sweatshirts and luggage. Now here comes Uniti and their earth messages, oh my, the potential, and there you have it. Money maker, and as a startup like Tesla once was and in some ways still is, as they’re trying to shake their startup mode out starting with that tent, all these startups need to make money on their first few production vehicles. I wish that Uniti would consider altering their next vehicle slated for production and make it some kind of Micro 4 seater utility vehicle, and as a gimmick throw in a third row only the kids can use or even understand that nobody else will!

Another issue Uniti will have in the North American market should they make or sell their micro here, is dealing with car culturally conservative regulators who like their regulations, and thus they are resistant to any kind of change, the American consumer as well. I must admit I too am a bit conservative when it comes to trying out new products or other things when it comes to cars. Getting US regulators to change their rules so that Audi can put their virtual side mirrors on e-Tron is one thing. Allowing Uniti to put back their their Batmobile-like haptic drive by wire steering system into its high tech state of the art feature rich mini-car, is a tall order.

A steering wheel is for a four wheeled car. Handlebars and joysticks are for video games, motorcycles, and Bruce Wayne’s vehicle collection. Only Mr. Wayne should have a joystick in his car due to the special work he does for us, no one else, thank you. Besides me being a profesional driver that a good driving tool is the round steering wheel, not the Atari Play Station Batmobile kind, I don´t see anything else on this car that could hurt as opposed to helping the gigantic car loan bubble that´s about to burst.

And this is where the Uniti One may be helpful to the US market because I really don´t see where else it can over here, and I’m trying to find ways it can. Like the mortgages 10 years ago, people can now no longer afford to keep paying their car loans with a 1 trillion dollar debt in the US alone. So if more people are recently buying more used cars instead of new ones, some of those might consider doing what their parents and grandparents did back in the day when I was a kid and consumer confidence was low, and everyone was short on cash. That was to buy what they called then, a brand new but much cheaper “econobox!” Those were the tiny Honda Civics and Toyota Carollas of their day that Uniti seems to enbrace them 21st century style now! So perhaps we might see a North American resurgence of the econobox high tech style with Uniti, we hope!

Your opinion of Uniti One? Let us know below. . . .


Sign-up to our email newsletter for daily perspectives on car design, trends, events and news, not found elsewhere.

Comments

Uniti have a long way until production. First they have to develop the production car. What they have displayed so for is a hardly drive-able concept car. At the launch last year they had to push it on stage, although they have shown it driven in some videos lately their CEO Lewis Horne claims that he has not yet driven it himself. They recently started the development almost from scratch with the new UK-based team. Unclear if it is in-house resources or if they rely on external developers. A lot of capital is needed to make it to production.
Agreed. I didn’t write it, but it seems they’re reaching a bit too high and far with their technology goals, and wasting time and money in the process. It’s only a microcar, keep it simple. Some of the tech I just don’t see coming to market not alone being impractical, like the joystick steering. No regional transportation authority will approve it, the USDOT, and the EU included. Any professional driver worth his salt will tell you that anything other than having a concentric circle of a wheel in front of you for steering, and it doesn’t have to be perfectly round, and while driving is dangerous. I don’t care if this car will be Level 4. It’s at Level 0 that matters. It’s a nice dream, but unless this is a motorcycle and it’s not, that feature is impractical. Because of this it seems that their engineering team has a learning curve in front of them.