M.ith small electric cars, Paul Leibold knows his way around. After all, he helped develop the i3 at BMW. But while money hardly played a role back then and the Bavarian carbon cube became an expensive lighthouse project, the engineer is now working at the other end of the price spectrum. He developed the City One, which will cost 10,000 euros in three or four years by the thousands as a taxi or delivery van through the megacities, especially in Asia, Africa and South America.
Apparently the City One is well equipped for this role. Although similarly long at 3.60 meters, it offers significantly more space inside than a VW Up. If you fold down the back seat, the small cube becomes a van, the headrests become a sturdy dividing grille, and a Euro pallet even fits into the 1.5 cubic meter loading space through the wide rear door. The prototype is powered by the engine of a Renault Twizy, which has only 20 hp and looks tired on the first lap. The series is planned with 34 hp and a top speed of 110 km / h.
Leibold works with a sharp red pencil, but does not want to compromise on security. Originally planned as a light vehicle, the City One, under the care of development partner Magna, will become a real car with airbags and assistance systems – and a little more space. The design model for the final car, which so far only exists in rigid foam, is 10 centimeters longer and 15 centimeters wider and looks a little less filigree and vulnerable.
Leibold sees his customers in fleet operators whom he wants to lure with minimal operating costs. The repair-friendly body is therefore made of colored plastic, it is reminiscent of a Rimowa suitcase and should be similarly robust. A digital platform is to ensure maximum utilization, via which the same car can be used sometimes as a taxi, sometimes as a rental car and sometimes as a courier vehicle and thus operated around the clock. Leipold wants to generate advertising income of up to 3,000 euros per year and car via a large display at the rear; individual advertisements can be displayed based on the time and destination of the journey.
The permanently installed batteries have a capacity of 16 kWh, which is sufficient for almost 200 kilometers, but are charged with 2.3 kW overnight. If you want to continue riding, you can use exchangeable batteries as you know them from a pedelec. As big as a briefcase and weighing around ten kilograms each, they have a capacity of 2.5 kWh and take the City One a good 25 kilometers further. Four of them fit in slots under the trunk floor, four more in a rack on the roof. “This means you are prepared for three taxi shifts a day,” says Leibold.
Of course, Leibold first of all has to find a production partner who can build the necessary factories for him in Africa or Asia for up to 100,000 cars per year. And he needs investors who give him the money to do it. Otherwise the City One remains a one-off.
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