Automaker Seat has chosen its home turf of Spain to offer Mobile World Congress 2019 attendees a glimpse into the company's micromobility future. The Minimó electric urban runabout is said to combine the comfort and safety of a car with the maneuverability and ease of use of a motorcycle. And yes, it looks a lot like a Renault Twizy.
Renault launched the Twizy electric two-seater quadricycle way back in 2011. It has a range per charge of 100 km (62 mi) and a top speed of just 80 km/h (50 mph), depending on model. And like Seat's similar-looking Minimó, it's designed as an urban short hopper. The latter is being pitched as the ideal solution for car-sharing enterprises based in cities with tight emissions regulations.
"The Seat Minimó has been especially engineered to adapt to the mobility platforms that will shape the future of city driving, where traffic will be restricted and only a few operators will be able to offer mobility," said Seat's Luca de Meo at the company's MWC2019 press conference. "This is the solution that carsharing companies have been waiting for, a model that will be key for improved profitability of this type of companies. The concept we are presenting today responds to the needs of both cities and carsharing providers."
Where the Twizy requires drivers to find a charging station when the vehicle's batteries start running low on juice, Seat has given the Minimó concept an integrated battery swap system. This hints at the potential for strategically-located battery banks being installed throughout a city, allowing users to pull up, swap out battery modules and be on their way again in minutes.
Being a concept, detailed specs are in short supply but we do know that there's a motorcycle-like single headlight, asymmetrical upward-opening doors, one-plus-one seating with occupants treated to a 360 degree panoramic view, and that the vehicle rides on 17 inch wheels.
Seat says that the car will be able to adjust its top speed according to the age of the driver – if it recognizes young drivers, the max will be set to 45 km/h (28 mph) while everyone else can get up to 90 km/h (56 mph). At 2.5 meters long and 1.24 meters wide (8.2 x 4 ft), squeezing into a tight parking space shouldn't be too taxing, though Seat suggests that the Minimó could also be left in a motorcycle parking bay.
There's a lot of buzz about the next version of mobile connectivity at MWC 2019, and Seat isn't missing a beat with the Minimó.
"The Minimó is also a hyperconnected vehicle with built-in 5G technology that provides a convenient and smooth digital user experience based on the 'Digital Access' key and wireless Android Auto on the car display without users having to connect their smartphone to any cable or socket," said Meo.
"Among other functions, the car recognizes whether the driver is 16 or 18 to adapt its speed to either 45 or 90 km/h, for example. In addition, with the Google Assistant on Android Auto, users can keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel while using their voice to stay connected, easily get answers, manage tasks and control media."
The vehicle will also use 5G technology to communicate wirelessly with other vehicles and city/urban infrastructure, as "a first step towards achieving cooperative, autonomous driving."
The Minimó is currently undergoing testing on the streets of Barcelona, in partnership with Telefónica. Seat says that further development of the concept will be undertaken with input from city councils and potential users, to help shape the direction and focus of the project.
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