Seat rises to the challenges posed by transport in the cities of the future
At the Mobile World Congress, the most important technological event in the country, the automotive sector is gaining more and more prominence. There are many brands that use this fair as a global platform for the launch of their new products. We’re not just talking about 5G connectivity solutions or intelligent driving, but also about notable contributions to sustainable mobility, especially in urban environments. So, let’s analyse the most substantial proposals that this edition had to offer:
Seat Minimó, Spanish leadership in 100% electric urban travel
The Spanish firm was playing at home, and in a city like Barcelona. So they took advantage of the event to show the world that they are one of the companies that are most getting behind sustainable mobility and that “this is going to be one of their hallmarks,” says Miguel Morales, automotive product specialist at motor.es. And the brand burst into the fair with the Seat Minimó, a two-seater electric car, with an interchangeable battery and a range of 100 kilometres with a single charge. It is the first completely clean urban mobility system that the firm has developed in order to reduce the costs of ‘carsharing’, among other solutions that they tell us about from the corporate communication department of Seat.
Still a prototype, the Minimó measures 2.5 metres long and 1.24 wide. With this micro-vehicle, “the footprint of cars would be reduced, in addition to freeing up space, since it can be parked in motorcycle parking spaces”, says Daniel Martínez. “For motorbike users we offer a fully enclosed cabin and a safe driving position,” he continues. “And for ‘carsharing’ companies (in Barcelona there are none since the disappearance of Avancar), the Minimó would reduce their operating costs by 50% thanks to the system of ‘battery swap’ (which allows you to change the car battery in minutes, instead of taking it to a charging station),” Martinez concludes.
The ‘last mile’ and micromobility
The journalist Miguel Morales explains another need that the new Seat model meets: “Straightaway, it’s a solution for what is known as ‘the last mile’, the last metres towards your final destination, the ‘door to door’ which is sustainable – since traffic will be reduced – both in transport and logistics and in private transport in cities.” This is what is also known as ‘micromobility’ (journeys under 10 kilometres) which, according to Seat’s president, Luca De Meo, today represent 60% of journeys in cities. In short, “Seat is the micromobility flagship of the VW group,” says Morales. And Barcelona, given the circumstances, has a product need and the brand has taken it into account. It is a business with huge potential.
Additionally, De Meo said: “Seat is in the best position to lead this strategy. Firstly, because we are in a metropolitan environment like Barcelona, and secondly, because the city has a great tradition in the design and production of two-wheeled vehicles.”
Xiaomi and the folding electric bike
The Chinese company has broken into the Spanish market in a big way thanks to its mobile phones, but it turns out that it also manufactures everything from rice cookers to computers, including a lot of pretty strange gadgets. About 2,000 smart devices, according to the company’s data. However, in its second participation in the Barcelona technology fair, Xiaomi’s flagship product was its folding electric bike for getting around the city, another of the acclaimed innovations.
It became known three years ago in China and could reach Europe this year. It has a 250-W motor and a range of up to 45 kilometres from a single charge. “It is a 100% electric bike with a motor capable of assisting the rider on any slope,” states Morales. What’s more, continues the expert, “the range is double that of the scooter.” Despite the fact that this urban ‘e-bike’ is not an absolutely cutting-edge invention in the market, “it is very difficult to compete with it for quality-price ratio (it costs barely €400),” says Morales.
Let’s see what Xiaomi say about their product. “Our bicycle covers, mainly, two needs: on the one hand, it is a mobility alternative for those users who are looking for an ecological, individual, intelligent and affordable method of transport for short and medium distances. On the other, it represents a lifestyle which is healthy and committed to the environment.”
Mercedes-Benz and their first fully electric SUV vehicle
Finally, we should highlight the presence at the Mobile World Congress ’19 of the Mercedes EQC, the German company’s electric SUV (sport utility vehicle). Although it was already presented at the end of last year, the brand of the star wanted to be in Barcelona to state – on the other side of the Atlantic – their intention to leave a solid footprint in the sustainable automotive market. It is the first 100% electrified vehicle from Mercedes, which is planned to reach the market in mid-2019. Thanks to its 80-kW battery, it has a range of more than 450 kilometres. In addition, its two engines deliver a power that exceeds 400 HP. These cars, Morales emphasises, mean savings in the medium- and long-term: “You don’t pay for blue zones; charging is free; refuelling is too; and you don’t pay for any tolls.”
As Miguel Morales and Faconauto affirm, the Mercedes electric car arrives to occupy a predominant position in the emerging segment of luxury vehicles powered by clean energy.
After all, the moment of truth for sustainable and urban mobility has arrived and been firmly established. Both manufacturers and drivers are seeing that the ecological car of the future will be electric (and connected), or nothing.