Volkswagen Group Spanish unit Seat appears to have painted a target around Renault's Twizy with the unveiling of its Minimo concept car at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today.
The automaker said the all electric quadricycle was developed to help meet "the challenges of city driving, such as emissions laws regulating vehicles entering urban areas, the growing problem of traffic jams and the lack of parking spaces".
"The Minimo brings together the benefits of the smaller dimensions of a motorcycle with the safety and comfort of a larger passenger vehicle, minimising the many frustrations of travelling around our cities," Seat said.
"The industry is adapting to changes in the way customers view personal transport. With the Minimo, the vision of our first product designed to purpose, Seat is addressing those challenges, combining autonomous driving technologies with electric powertrain systems to create the future of urban-mobility" said president Luca De Meo.
The vehicle is designed to be narrow and agile making it easier to navigate around urban areas but is enclosed to increase both safety and the ability to serve a wider number of drivers and their needs.
An all-electric powertrain with zero emissions allows access to city centres with the most stringent emissions legislation. The ability to swap battery packs quickly and efficiently significantly reduces the charging time for private customers as well as the operation costs of an urban electric car sharing service.
The Minimo was designed to combine the qualities of passenger vehicles and motorcycles to comfortably transport two people within a minimal footprint.
At 2.5m long and 1.24m wide, the concept is compact enough to traverse congested city streets and fit into minimal parking spotsits footprint is 3.1sq m compared with around 7.2sq m for a regular city car.
Seat claims "great driving pleasure and comfort" thanks to large, uncovered, 17 inch wheels, a high SUV-like seating position and "unparalleled roominess for the passenger".
The enclosed design protects occupants from the elements and also improves safety.
The single headlight is reminiscent of a motorbike, while the rear light borrows design cues from aeronautics.
Doors are asymmetrical and hinged to open in tight spaces. The smaller left driver's door means more space can be given to the vehicle's glasshouse increasing visibility for passengers, while the larger right passenger door makes entering and exiting easier.
"The design of the Minimo shows the way we understand urban mobility: efficiency, high value and cost saving – combined with a vibrant design. It demonstrates there is space for fun and style when we are talking about electric and shared vehicles. More than ever design matters," said Seat design director Alejandro Mesonero.
Range is claimed to be 100km/62 miles on a single charge.
Packaged under the floor in an accessible frame, the battery can be swapped with a fresh pack in seconds.
Because the rear seat forms an unbroken part of the interior there is ample space for luggage.
The vehicle is based on a stiff chassis with the wheels placed at its far corners, with a lightweight, yet robust, body structure.
Connectivity includes a digital key and wireless Android Auto technology. A central digital display behind the steering wheel combines the functions of cluster instrument and digital content from the user smartphone. Google Assistant is included with Android Auto to manage tasks and control media.
Minimo is being developed for future Level 4 autonomous technology which would allow the vehicle to pick up the user when requested.
The concept will also be displayed at the Geneva show next month.
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