Monday, 21 october 2019 | Redacción CEU
More and more companies are betting on launching their own electric vehicle models. Uniti is one of them. In particular, the proposal of this Swedish brand consists of a three-seater mini electric utility vehicle which is designed to move mainly in the city. This type of car, which is ideal for short trips, is also an ecological and innovative alternative that fits with the new mobility concept that is gradually being implemented in the automotive industry. But will Uniti One become a car for the masses? Will this kind of vehicles succeed in engaging European users? Do kei cars have a chance to make it big outside the Japanese borders?
Kei cars are little-known vehicles in Europe, but a mass phenomenon in Japan. Indeed, they account for 40 % of the car market in this country. They are cars with small dimensions which, as a general rule, have a boxy shape. They hit the market after the Second World War and managed to reverse the negative effects of the economy and revive the Japanese car industry. At that time, many people were not willing to buy a car, so they bet on motorcycles.
Kei cars were born as a kind of economic hybrid between cars and motorcycles. They were ideal to meet the transportation needs of both individuals and small professionals as well as of local businesses. Since 1947, smaller cars of 2.8 meters that did not exceed 100m3 have received state subsidies. These requirements have increased over the years. Now, the limits set are 3.4 meters in length and 600 cm3 in cylinder capacity.
These vehicles, in addition to enjoying tax advantages, help solve the problem of population and traffic density in this country. They have reduced dimensions, but this does not mean that they cannot be equipped with numerous technological elements. It is something that makes them more expensive, but no less practical to move around the city. In any case, while these mini-cars are valued as modern and even prestigious vehicles in Japan, in Europe their presence is almost incidental. In the West, the most popular vehicles are SUVs which are vehicles that, among other things, are distinguished by a larger size. However, as the new concept of mobility progresses, this situation may change.
The boost of electrification in the automotive industry is opening up the doors to new proposals. Among them is that of Uniti. The Swedish firm proposes an electric vehicle which has smaller dimensions than the usual ones. Nevertheless, it does not settle for a basic car. As many kei car brands, Uniti is committed to an intelligent design and an innovative concept.
The United Kingdom and Sweden will be the first countries to have this car driving around their streets. However, this project almost failed. It was thanks to a crowdfunding campaign promoted by the firm that the company managed to raise the money it needed to start production. Now, the Swedish brand already offers the possibility of placing the first orders and does so at a quite affordable price: from 17,767 euros (£ 15,100 with an English Government grant in the UK).
The Uniti One is a lightweight two-door vehicle with rounded shapes which does not emit polluting gases and has a maximum range of 300 kilometers. Its measures are 3.22 meters in length, 1.70 in width and 1.50 in height. Despite these dimensions, the vehicle has been designed to accommodate three passengers. Its distribution draws attention for its originality and practicality. The driver's seat occupies a central position thus leaving room behind for two other passengers. This distribution enables the rear seat occupants to get out of the car faster. When drivers are alone in the car, they can recline the rear seats and turn the vehicle into a single-seater car with an impressive 760-liter trunk (in its triple version, the trunk’s capacity is 155 liters).
This vehicle has a small engine that offers 67CV of power and 85 Nm of torque. With it, the Unite One can accelerate from 0 to 100 in 9.9 seconds and reach a maximum speed of 120 km/h. The vehicle is also equipped with a lithium-ion battery. The autonomy varies depending on the model chosen. The standard model has a capacity of 12 kWh, which is equivalent to 150 km of range. For an extra 2,800 euros, customers access a higher version of 24 KWh with which the vehicle can reach 300 km of range. This battery can be charged with a 50kw charger from 20% to 80% in 17 minutes. In its standard version, it only takes 9 minutes to charge it with the same conditions.
The CEU IAM Business School is witnessing the great change that the motor world is experiencing. Advances in the automotive industry, new environmental challenges or new consumer preferences are just some of the factors that make it necessary for the sector to take a new approach. The automotive industry needs professionals who are capable of managing and enhancing the resources of organizations efficiently and effectively with this context. This is the reason why our business school has designed two training programs aimed at meeting this demand: an Automotive Sector MDP and a Master´s Degree in the Automotive Industry Businesses.