Uniti – Reinvent the automobile

STARTUP: Uniti
DESCRIPTION:
Uniti is an electric city car that aims for holistic sustainability, a futuristic user experience and is developed in an open source manner.
PLACE: Lund / Sweden

FOUNDERS: Lewis Horne
FOUNDED: Pre-study commenced in late 2014, legally founded in January 2016
FUNDING: Pre-Seed: Bootstraping, Investments by family and friends, Business Angels, Government and academic backing
Now looking for a seed funding. A crowd funding campaign is coming. More info here at WUNDERDING soon.
STAGE (April 2016): Seed
EMPLOYEES: 11-50

I really would like to buy an electric car one day. But most of the available models are very expensive or just like a normal car with a battery inside and with all the disadvantages (short range etc.). Uniti, a startup from Sweden, would like to change this. They are developing a futuristic, open source electric city car. I am the owner of an old Volvo 240, so I admire Swedish cars and the Uniti design looks amazing. The specs: 2 seats, 400kg weight, 150 km range. Perfect for daily travel to town and back. I met Lewis, the founder, and the team at the CeBIT and I was really impressed by their concept.

 

“Reinventing the automobile!”- This is one of your claims and this is really ambitious. What is your way to achieve this goal?
Lewis Horne: We really started with: Why do we make cars? What do we need them? Why do we have a steering wheel and pedals? Is this the best way to operate a vehicle or is it just a extension of a horse and buggy and a linear design thinking. So we really started again with the development of a vehicle and this is what we come up with: a a new electric city car, two seats in tandem.
Instead of having a big plastic dashboard with all these plastic buttons we just have one single piece of hardware that is the users connection to the road and with the digital world around them. So we can manufacture this in one piece and it can really make our platform modular. Why we make it modular? Obviously it is for simplicity of manufacturing. This helps us with our primary focus which is having an environmental impact.
Other companies are not using environmental impact as an marketing tool and are still using a carbon fibre chassis or metal. We are looking at every single spec of this vehicle to work out how can we make it much more environmentally better. So we are looking at materials, using different bioplastic and manufacturing: how can we overcome complexity by design.

Our business practices: if you are really there to make a positive impact on the environment and shift things all your business practices should reflect that.

And the logic of the transportation. By logic I mean we don`t think it is logical to have a ton and a half machinery driving around an average of 1.2 people. It is parked most of the time. So Uniti is a vehicle specifically designed to what a modern user needs. It is an niche but we think this niche will become the main stream as the younger generation matures because they’re used to a little more intuitive technology, less buttons, less plastic, more of a premium feeling and brand that has a meaning baked into it.

And you are doing this open-source?
Lewis Horne: The way we do this is what is really disruptive. This is designed to be disruptive because we know how damaging the auto industry is and we know that the problem is not a technological problem. The technology needed exists and is common. What we need is the market to be grown. So we have market growing strategy. That is why it is completely open. We are moving barriers for other entrance. An example of that is with our open-source software that we are doing with some of the leading suppliers on earth. In an open-source community we are going to develop all the software for this vehicle and make it available for every other startup and large companies.

Why are you different than other projects?

What is your next step?
Lewis Horne: We start with focusing on the development of this prototype and this is where we teaming up with the really big guys out there: the “Bosch´s” and the “Dupont´s” of this world that already have a lot of engineering made. It is a hardware integration project. We are putting it together in a different format and changing the way people think.

How people are engaged in the process?

Developing a new car is extremely expensive. How do you would like to compete with the big companies like Tesla, BMW or Toyota?
Lewis Horne: When you are talking about this big car companies Tesla, BMW. Their cars are really hard to make. Uniti is vastly simpler engineering. It is actually what we say a division below. It is what we call the European heavy quadricycle L7 category. So you can´t drive it on a highway, it’s just for short range city transportation. That has much lower regulatory boundaries for example crash testing. But of course we are going to do this. This is a Swedish car, it has to be extremely safe and it is a European branch.
Our plan is to build the prototype end of this year.

That is something we could test on the road, it won´t be industrialized but at that time we really turn to the crowd and do a big crowd funding campaign and there you are able to place a pre-order.

Hopefully for delivery at about 2018, but it is important to know: we are not the best manufactures on earth and we don´t need to be. There are a lot of great manufactures out there that could produce this for us. At best we might do the assembly in Sweden but there are also options where a third party will manufacture the entire thing.
And we already have orders and people who are placing orders right now, people who would like to support us and want to make sure this will happen.


Thank you very much for the interview, Lewis!

And here you could see Albin Wilson, engineer at Uniti, testing the VR modell for the first time at CeBIT after 24 hours of setting up the demo.

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