German industrial giant Siemens has focused their attention on a group of Swedish University students that recently raised 1.2 million ($1.3 million USD) in a crowdfunding campaign. The two parties have recently announced their new partnership which will see a production of 50,000 units of their lightweight city-friendly cars annually starting next year. The start up, Uniti, was born of a student research program at Lund University and is led by Australian born CEO Lewis Horne. Lund University is one of the oldest, largest and most prestigious universities in Europe, and it is consistently ranked within the world's top 100 universities. The crowdfunding project allowed the company to find over 570 crowd-investors aged between 18-85 from 45 countries even though they had no actual prototype and it was only a concept.
Horne goes on to explain "for us, the vehicle's designed to be a second family car or a car for millennials like me who want a car, but they don't want two tons of machinery in their life." The passion for developing this car is a result of personal demand, "Everyone in our whole company rides a bike. There's like 60 engineers and three that have a car." While Uniti has already designed one version of its cars, which reminds us of futuristic vehicle in a science fiction movie, Horne says their official prototype won't be unveiled until September. The first car only weighed 400 kg (880 lbs) and was able to reach speeds of up to 120 km/h (75 mph). The prototype is expected to have a travel range of up to 150 km (93 miles). The vehicle's steering system is reportedly to resemble a Wii controller more than a traditional's car's steering wheel.
The two-seater electric car will be technically categorized as heavy quadricycles in Europe and will fall into a lower weight class designated L7e, will be powered by a 15kW engine. The company not only looks to fill a void in the upcoming electric car sector, but promises to be environmentally friendly. The cars are made from a sustainable composite material which can be recycled should the occasion arise. Horne describes the partnership with Siemens as "the opportunity to not only develop a sustainable car, but also manufacture it in a sustainable way at a large scale." The partners are currently working out on how the plan their automated assembly line in Uniti's new space which Horne plans to stock the robotics from the company Kuka. The target price the vehicle is currently looking at is 21,000 ($22,700 USD). In comparison, the electric Smart Car in Sweden starts at 22,000 ($23,800 USD). The first deliveries are scheduled for early 2019.