Sometimes good things come in small packages. Today that is especially true, as the package isn’t square, its “Squad, World’s First Solar City Car.” Wordplay aside, Squad Mobility is a startup in the Netherlands whose product might actually be the ultimate solution to the first/last-mile transportation issue. In our opinion, if successful, it could change the world.
What they have created is a small, affordable, low-speed car that dwarfs even a Smart car, yet can still seat 2 people and store maybe a grocery bag or two. At all times, this vehicle is charged by the solar panel that it’s roof is composed of, and when that doesn’t cut it and the juice runs low, the battery can just be swapped out. In some ways, we have seen similar strategies from electric scooter manufacturers like Gogoro which can be either purchased by individual consumers or shared by smart mobility networks. However, thus far we have not yet seen a successful implementation of this in a vehicle that has a roof.
There are so many applications for this in cities, towns, and even villages worldwide. For private owners seeking to do some basic grocery shopping, even the 20km of range that the solar panel can generate per day will suffice. For a shared network, giving a car that already gets 100km of range from its battery an additional 20km of range per day without having to burden the electrical grid or worry about the logistics of charging shared cars is actually quite significant. As Robert Hoevers, CEO of Squad Mobility, put it: “cities love solar charging, as this is a sustainable energy source. It decreases the load on the local charging infrastructure and energy demand. Cities are looking for zero emission mobility solutions with a small space footprint. We have achieved both. A per capita energy consumption lower than public transport and a space footprint comparable to a bicycle. And all this, while offering the flexibility of personal transport and the comfort of a car.”
At a starting price of just €5750, this car costs half as much as the cheapest A-segment car and one-fourth the cost of the two cheapest electric vehicles on the market, the Smart or VW e-up! We have seen electric scooters that were sold for this price, so it is very impressive. For those not interested in an outright purchase, lease and subscription options will also be made available for 100 euros per month. Pre-orders are now available on Squad’s website.
With a footprint of just 2 square meters, 3 or even 4 Squad solar cars can fit in just a single parking spot, making implementation in city infrastructure much easier. The vehicle itself will initially be limited to 45 km/h (28 mph) and a more powerful version that can reach 70 km/h (43 mph) will be launched at a later date. However, that isn’t the only improvement Squad Mobility has in store for its product. The vehicle will already be equipped with smart sensors and cameras that can monitor everything from cabin cleanliness to how a car is parked. Fleet operators will even be able to remotely control the car in case it is improperly parked or blocking an exit. They hope that once self-driving technology will be more commonplace, they will be able to add that to their product as well. In the words of the creators, “In the longer term, we envision the use of autonomous technology to control the fleet in the city — for example, to move vehicles back to places with high demand or more sunshine for charging.”
While autonomy might still be a ways off, production should start in the last quarter of 2022 in the EU, especially since in March they finished up an investment agreement with Bloomit Ventures. Once made, the product will likely sell like hot cakes, as this is a product category that does not yet exist, yet offers functionality that is very much in demand and does so for unbelievably low prices. Years ago when electric cars were not all that great, as an insult they have sometimes been called glorified golf carts. It is ironic that this product in some ways has taken that insult and turned it into a price advantage. This might not be a serious electric car alternative for consumers, instead it may be the best solution to city mobility and how most people will choose to travel the first/last leg of regular trips. While we can’t say too much, you can expect an even more serious milestone before the end of this year, so keep an eye out for Squad Mobility.
Note: We also wrote about Squad’s plans in December 2019: Squad Mobility Redefines Affordable With Its $6,300 Solar-Powered Urban Electric Vehicle.
Oil CEO says blaming the energy industry for the climate crisis ‘like blaming farmers for obesity’
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates —The chief executive of UAE-based energy firm Crescent Petroleum on Tuesday claimed that blaming the oil and gas industry for the climate crisis “is like blaming farmers for obesity.”
His comments come at the mid-point of the U.N.’s biggest and most important annual climate conference, with many at the COP28 talks in Dubai calling for heads of state from nearly 200 countries to agree to a fossil fuel phase out.
The burning of coal, oil and gas is by far the largest contributor to climate change, accounting for more than three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions.
“Blaming the producers of oil and gas for climate change is like blaming farmers for obesity. It’s our societal consumption that is the issue,” Crescent Petroleum CEO Majid Jafar told CNBC’s Dan Murphy on Tuesday.
“Now, we will still need oil and gas throughout the transition and there is no scenario, even the most ambitious scenario, that does not include that.”
Majid Jafar, chief executive officer of Crescent Petroleum Co., right, gives Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC) and president of COP28, center, a scarf in the colours of the United Arab Emirates national flag during the Summit on Methane and Other Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases on day three of the COP28 climate conference at Expo City in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Among a flurry of pledges in the first few days of COP28 was a commitment by some 50 oil and gas companies to cut methane emissions from their own operations by 2030.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said that the announcement was “a step in the right direction” for Big Oil and showed that the fossil fuel industry was “finally starting to wake up.” However, he said the promises made “clearly fall short of what is required.”
Asked about Guterres’ comments, Jafar said he believed oil and gas would continue to play a major role in the transition to cleaner energy technologies.
“So, with all respect for that viewpoint, perhaps he should start with the U.N. itself. Maybe he should have traveled here in a wooden boat, with sails, rowing when the wind died down,” he said.
“Maybe he should move the U.N. staff to upstate New York to a forest somewhere where they can grow their own food, without fertilizers. He has to take away all their smartphones, they can’t use email, they can use maybe carrier pigeon for U.N. communications.”
Jafar said he believed it was imperative to produce oil and gas in a “cleaner” way but insisted that countries across the globe will continue to rely on fossil fuel use.
“We’re actually failing on all three legs of the so-called energy trilemma: sustainability, affordability and availability. We have got to keep that in mind,” he said.
Others, including former U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, believe that the participation of energy giants should be welcomed at events such as COP28.
The International Energy Agency said late last month that the fossil fuel industry faces a “moment of truth” about their role in the global energy system and the climate crisis.
“With the world suffering the impacts of a worsening climate crisis, continuing with business as usual is neither socially nor environmentally responsible,” the IEA’s Birol said on Nov. 23.
“The industry needs to commit to genuinely helping the world meet its energy needs and climate goals,” he added.
Lucid Motors (LCID) updates its 2024 model year Airs, including lower prices and a RWD Pure
This morning, Lucid Motors shared details of its 2024 model year Air sedans, which are available for sale starting today. While the updates are minimal, Lucid is offering more customization options across its flagship EV, three of which (should) see lower pricing… some at the cost of some performance.
It’s been an up and down year for American automaker Lucid Motors ($LCID), which introduced some of the more exciting and innovative EV tech in the market, but is still working to find its larger audience of paying customers as a luxury brand.
The automaker’s Q3 report showed that operating losses continued to widen ahead of it pulling its first demand lever – a referral program that rewards both current owners and new Air customers. November in particular, was an exciting month for Lucid however, as it officially launched its second model – Gravity – an SUV with the makings to be a hit in the US.
With Gravity slotted to begin production in late 2024, Lucid’s flagship Air sedan will remain its lone bread winner for now. With hopes of boosted sedan sales next year, the automaker is expanding its configurator and offering its most affordable Air models to date.
2024 Lucid Air sedans are now available
Per Lucid Motors, the 2024 model year Airs have arrived, offering customers more configurations and flexibility when building their sedan – especially the lower end Pure and Touring versions. Some previous versions of the Air have been nixed, while the existing trims adopt some of their best features as standard or available add-ons. Per Lucid CEO and CTO Peter Rawlinson:
This transforms the flexibility and choice for our customers while highlighting Lucid’s commitment to continuous improvement of the world’s most advanced and dynamic electric vehicles. By listening to owners and prospective customers, I’m delighted that we can now provide such compelling choices. For example, it’s now possible to order an Air Pure with massaging seats or even an Air Grand Touring with a metal roof.
First things first, let’s start with the Air Pure. As we reported in back in early October, Lucid has added a RWD version of the Air Pure priced at $77,400 – its most affordable option to date. Beginning with the 2024 model year Airs however, the Pure will come in RWD only. Here’s how the performance specs stack up side-by-side between the 2023 AWD Pure and the 2024 RWD version:
|Air Pure||2023 AWD||2024 RWD|
|Max Power||480 hp||430 hp|
|0-60 mph||3.8 seconds||4.5 seconds|
|410 miles||419 miles|
Future customers can also choose to upgrade their Air Pure or Touring with a new Comfort & Convenience package that features the following:
- Heated steering wheel
- Heated rear seats
- Soft-close doors
- Four-zone climate control
- Power rear window sunshades
These features come in the Pure package, but the Air Touring package comes with the upgrades above, plus a power frunk and heated precision wipers. Speaking of the 2024 Air Touring, Lucid added some standard and available upgrades to that sedan as well.
With the AWD version of the Air Pure on its way out, the Pure Touring sits as Lucid’s most affordable all-wheel option and at a better price than its 2023 predecessor to boot. Here’s how the two models compare:
|Air Touring||2023 AWD||2024 AWD|
|Max Power||620 hp||620 hp|
|0-60 mph||3.4 seconds||3.4 seconds|
|425 miles||411 miles|
While we’re sure the $10,000 price cut it welcomed news, the 14 mile drop in range is surprising. Lucid cites an updated EPA range testing protocol as a reasoning for the drop, but 411 miles is still more range than nearly all other EVs on the market.
Lucid says the 2024 Air Touring now comes with 19″ aero wheels, PurLuxe leather-free upholstery, and 12-way power front seats standard, plus several available add-ons like Fathom Blue exterior paint and premium natural grain or Nappa full-grain leather.
Similar to the end of AWD Air Pure production, Lucid announced it will move into 2024 without the Performance version of the Grand Touring. Instead, the automaker has updated the powertrain and thermal performance of the standard Air Grand Touring, which appears to remain a work in progress.
While we know the 2024 Grand Touring’s horsepower and 0-60 speed will remain unchanged, specs like its battery capacity and EPA range estimate are not being shared yet. We also don’t know what this one will cost, although Lucid says it will arrive at a lower price. For perspective, the 2023 Air Grand Touring starts at $125,600 before a $10,000 Air credit from Lucid. The automaker says those missing details will be shared in early 2024.
We do know the Grand Touring will now come with a body-colored aluminum roof as a standard feature, with the glass canopy as an available upgrade. It also comes standard with the same features as the Touring alongside the same available add-ons.
Last but not least, there appear to be no changes to the tri-motor Air Sapphire, which launched in Q3 as a 2024 model anyways. The 2024 Air models (excluding Grand Touring) are available to configure now on Lucid’s website.
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The first fast chargers in GM and Pilot Flying J’s huge coast-to-coast network are open
The first of 500 charging stations at Pilot Flying J rest stops are now open. General Motors announced the new partnership with Pilot Travel Centers and fast charging network EVgo last year, and today the companies announced that 17 charging stations are up and running across 13 states after a soft launch, which started in September.
Plans are underway to install 25 more, offering 100 charging stalls in total, by the end of the year. The broader plan is to install at least 2,000 charging stations over the next few years, with a target of 200 being open by 2024. The charging stations, which will be managed by EVgo, will be at about 500 Pilot Flying J truck stops.
Other perks for EV drivers include onsite assistance, Plug and Charge compatibility, pull-through charging stalls for towing, lots of lighting, and canopies to protect drivers from the elements. In addition, you’ll get all the standard amenities offered at a Flying J, such as food, restroom access, and free Wi-Fi.
Drivers can find available charging locations via GM’s vehicle brand apps, Pilot’s myRewards Plus app, the EVgo app, PlugShare, and other apps for EV drivers. The myRewards Plus app lets EV drivers get discounts on food, drinks, and merchandise. Starting in the spring of next year, GM vehicle owners will be able to reserve a charger ahead of time and get special discounts on charging.
The chargers will be co-branded “Pilot Flying J” and “Ultium Charge 360. From the looks of the press photos (shown above), the stations will sport a GM logo as well, which makes them one of few in the US to do so apart from Tesla.
EVgo also recently announced a new deal with rental car company Hertz that offers drivers renting an electric car from any Hertz location in the US with discounts on charging for a year, with no subscription or session fees. EVgo is also following in Tesla’s footsteps and building prefabricated models for its charging sites, with the aim of cutting installation time in half and saving around 15% in construction costs.
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