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SQUAD Solar Car Has its Sights Set on Australia

 

Squad Mobility, a European developer of sustainable transport solutions, revealed its working prototype of the SQUAD solar city car earlier this month. The car itself is an electric quadricycle that is powered by its own rooftop solar panels. The term quadricycle was actually coined by Henry Ford (the founder of Ford Motor Company) in 1896; it’s the name of the very first car he ever built!

What is Squad Mobility?

Squad Mobility is a Netherlands-based company that is working to develop more efficient and sustainable ways for people to travel. With its ‘Mobility as a Service’ (MaaS) concepts, the company is designing vehicles that are emission-free and help to ease congestion on city roads around the world. Earlier this year, Squad Mobility moved into its new office and workshop to begin assembling and testing its creation. This office and workshop is based in Breda, which is in the south of the Netherlands.

In 2019, Robert Hoevers and Chris Klok left their positions at Lightyear (a Dutch start-up) to work on their own project, with the goal of developing an affordable solar car for a large market. The result? A solar-powered car called the SQUAD (solar quadricycle). Robert Hoevers has taken up directorial duties at Squad Mobility, while Chris Klok spearheads product development as the Chief of Design.

The SQUAD

With a vision for free and open city life, Squad Mobility aimed to develop a solar-powered car that made life easier. The SQUAD uses rooftop solar panels to charge its batteries, which are swappable and portable. This means batteries can be easily swapped in-and-out when the vehicle needs a quick recharge. Squad Mobility will include a smart charging and swapping station with extra batteries to fleet operators. Furthermore, the option to charge from a regular power socket, as well as direct current (or DC) charging straight from locally installed solar panels will be available.

There is currently one model of the SQUAD solar car on offer; the L6. This model is a 2-seater with a maximum speed of 45km per hour. The rooftop solar panels on the car can generate enough energy to power the car for 20km per day in European summer sunlight. Additionally, the car has been manufactured to be safety-centric, low maintenance and durable for city use; designed to withstand the usual wear and tear often associated with heavy use of vehicles. Just when you think it couldn’t sound any cooler… the doors are completely optional! So, especially in Australian summer, you can remove the doors and enjoy your journey through your city. Otherwise, you can keep the doors on and use the air-conditioning feature.

Squad Mobility Solar
Image Source: Squad Mobility

While the L6 is the first model that will be available, Squad Mobility has announced that there will be a second model later down the track… the L7. While the L7 works to the same concepts, it will have a maximum speed of 65km per hour (for all you daredevils out there) and will be a 4-seater.

How Expensive is the SQUAD?

We think a lot of people will be interested in the SQUAD… and if you are, you’re likely wondering how much it’ll cost. The amount might surprise you; it’s actually pretty cheap all things considered. To get one of these cars as part of its regular production rollout in the next year or 2, you can expect to pay around $9,200 AUD (excl. tax) at the time of writing. Not too bad, right?

Image Source: Squad Mobility

When Will This Thing Be Available in Australia?

The SQUAD’s arrival down under will depend on demand, though the company has expressed its desire to enter the Australian market at some point. However, the first rollout of this solar city car will be in Europe, where it’s already been tried and tested. The vehicle is expected to be made available for purchase in 2022. So, if you’re an Aussie and you want to register your interest to help bring the SQUAD down under, you can set up a pre-order through the company’s website for a refundable fee of about $8 AUD.

Have you already pre-ordered your SQUAD? Or would it be something you’d think about? Find us on social media and let us know!

 

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.
 

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