SEAT has taken the wraps off its vision of the future of urban mobility at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, with the unveiling of its concept car, Minimó.
The all-electric quadricycle has been 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 SEAT Minimó 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.
“The industry is adapting to changes in the way customers view personal transport. With the Minimó, 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 Luca De Meo, President of SEAT.
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 its ability to serve a wider number of drivers and their needs.
An all-electric powertrain with zero emissions means that entering city centres with even the most stringent emissions legislation is no problem. Its ability to swap battery packs to quickly and efficiently refuel the vehicle, significantly reduces the charging time for private customers as well as operation costs of an urban electric carsharing service.
A design for life
SEAT Minimó’s dual character, bringing together both the qualities of passenger vehicles and motorcycles underlines the emphasis on its primary purpose: the ability to comfortably transport two people with minimal footprint.
With a length of 2.5m and a width of 1.24m, the concept car is compact enough to traverse even the most congested of city streets and fit into the smallest of parking spots. These compact dimensions allows the vehicle for a reduced footprint of only 3.1m2, much less than a regular city car (around 7.2m2). And, unlike other urban vehicles, a great driving pleasure and comfort is provided thanks to the large, uncovered, 17-inch wheels, a high SUV-like seating position and unparalleled roominess for the passenger, allowing it to sweep through urban streets unlike any other vehicle on the road.
The enclosed design, with its lightweight aesthetic and technical beauty, protects occupants not only from the elements but also improves safety, meaning no matter what the conditions, the vehicle is a practical option for getting around town.
The single headlight is reminiscent of a motorbike, while the rear light borrows design cues from aeronautics, emphasising the vehicle’s agility.
Despite Minimó’s compact design, it is also highly practical.
The doors are asymmetrical and hinged to open in the tightest of 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 the vehicle effortless.
“The design of the Minimó shows the way we understand urban mobility: efficiency, high value and cost saving – combined with a vibrant design. Our Minimó demonstrates that there is space for fun and style when we are talking about electric and shared vehicles. More than ever – design matters.” said Alejandro Mesonero, Design Director at SEAT.
Meeting the needs of an urban society means giving people the freedom to travel around without limits. The SEAT Minimó gives customers over 62 miles (100km) of range on a single charge of its energy dense battery pack. But because of its inventive design, there’s no need to wait hours for the vehicle to recharge once all the energy has been used.
Packaged under the floor of the vehicle in an accessible frame, the battery can be swapped with a fresh pack in a matter of seconds and with minimal fuss, allowing the vehicle to continue its journey far quicker than other vehicles on the road.
Driver and passenger comfort and convenience
The watchword for the interior of the Minimó is space – making the cabin as large, bright and enticing as possible in a vehicle with a footprint little bigger than a motorcycle.
From the moment the doors open upwards, occupants are greeted with a tactile, clean and comfortable space, with equal amounts of room for both driver and passenger in the 1+1 seating setup. The 360° panoramic view means that passengers can easily take in the splendour of their surroundings. In fact the distance between the hip point of the rear passenger and driver is identical to that of the SEAT Mii, while the distance between the occupants and the door is more generous than even the current SEAT Ibiza.
The rear passenger is cossetted in soft, smooth materials, clean aesthetics and sensual shut lines. As the rear space does away with a traditional fixed seat, the sense of space and comfort is heightened.
Should the SEAT Minimó be driven solo, because the rear seat forms an unbroken part of the interior there is ample space for luggage, adding to the vehicle’s practicality and also hinting at possible future uses for the Minimó in non-passenger vehicle guises.
In the front, the Minimó remains a driver’s vehicle, benefitting from SEAT’s expertise in providing pinpoint dynamics and driveability. The vehicle is based on a stiff chassis, with the 17-inch wheels placed at its far corners, with a lightweight, yet robust, body structure giving incredible performance.
The vehicle offers connectivity solutions to provide a seamless digital experience for the user (private and sharing) based on 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 with the necessary safety driving requirements. With the Google Assistant on Android Auto, users can keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel while using their voice to stay connected, easily get answers, manage tasks and control media.
The platform is also ready for future developments. The SEAT Minimó is preparing for future Level 4 autonomous technologies, which would allow the vehicle to pick up the user when requested, solving one of the main frustrations of car sharers.
A synthesis of solutions
As cities grow and urban spaces become more crowded the need for new approaches to mobility increase in importance. Driving a traditional car can become more tiresome so inventive, well thought out solutions need to be designed.
The SEAT Minimó concept is set to revolutionise urban mobility. It takes the positive elements of a passenger vehicle: the safety, comfort and practicality and mixes them with the inherent qualities of a motorcycle: the small footprint and agility, while also adding the new attributes of electrified powertrain technology and seamless digital experience.
The result is a vehicle that is narrow and agile but enclosed and convenient, and specially designed to reduce operation costs of shared mobility operators, providing a proper solution to modern mobility needs.