ePlane: A tidbit

Harbour Air DHC-2 Beaver floatplane in Richmond, British Columbia, powered by an electric magniX magni500 propulsion system. Photo: Harbour Air.

On 2019-12-10 Harbour Air successfully flew the world’s first all-electric commercial aircraft, the ePlane, a six-passenger DHC-2 de Havilland Canada Beaver on floats, with call sign C-FJOS and production number 1030 of the 1 692 DHC Beavers ever built. Originally delivered with a piston ICE engine on 1957-03-01, it spent most of its operational life based in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.

This aircraft, with yellow and blue livery, is now powered by a 560 kW magni500 propulsion system. Its first electric propulsion flight started and ended on the Fraser River at Harbour Air floatplane terminal in Richmond, British Columbia at YVR South, part of Vancouver International Airport.

Richmond is the home base of Harbour Air, North America’s largest floatplane airline. It specializes in routes between Vancouver, Nanaimo, Victoria, Sechelt, Comox, Whistler and the Gulf Islands. There are also flights between downtown Vancouver and downtown Seattle. They also have a European subsidiary in Malta.

Harbour Air has a history of green operations, that is deeper than a typical greenwash. In 2007, it became the first airline in North America to achieve complete carbon neutrality in both flight services and corporate operations. It has announced its intention to build the world’s first completely electric commercial floatplane fleet, but because of certification requirements, including testing, it will have to wait until about the beginning of 2022 before this can start. The company is regarded as one of the best managed in Canada, and has won awards for this.

The Harbour Air fleet consists primarily of de Havilland Canada floatplanes: 14 DHC-2 Beavers (5 – 6 passengers), 21 DHC-3-T(urbo) Otters (10 – 14 passengers) and 3 DHC-6 Twin Otters (18 passengers).

In March 2019, Harbour Air announced a partnership with magniX to electrify the entire Harbour Air fleet over the long term. Harbour Air has noted that its initial electric-powered commercial flights will be on routes of under 30 minutes’ duration. The DHC-2 Beaver serves as the test prototype for the magniX motor, energy storage, and control systems.

MagniX is an Australian electric motor manufacturer for electric aircraft, wholly owned by Singapore investor Clermont Group. Its engineering headquarters is located on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Its global headquarters and US development centre is located in Redmond, Washington, near Seattle.

One of the main advantages of an electric motor in an aircraft is full torque at low RPM. In addition, the mechanics are simpler, reducing the number of parts as well as weight. For example, a propeller can be attached directly to the motor without a reduction gear.

The magni500 was unveiled at the Paris Air Show in June, 2019. It provides 560 kW, and 2800 Nm of torque. It weighs 135 kg. The smaller magni250 motor provides 280 kW, and 1400 Nm of torque. It weighs 72 kg. Both types of motors rotate at between 1900 and 3000 RPM, and offer 93% power conversion efficiency. Both motors can be regarded as high-power-density electric propulsion systems that provides a clean and efficient way to power airplanes. The company also makes a magniDrive 170 kW power electronics system used to run both the magni250 and magni500.

Sources: Beaver Tails ; Harbour Air ; Magnix ; Wikipedia – Harbour Air Seaplanes & Magnix .

Cybertruck update: A tidbit

Find the Cybertruck! Photo: Found on Electrek.co

There has been a lot of media content produced about the Tesla Cybertruck. Here are some comments.

  1. Alasdair McLellan noted that the window damage to the Cybertruck was, if not deliberate, at least expected. How else could Musk ensure that every newspaper, magazine, blog and any other source on or off the web, publish a photo of the Cybertruck, so that everyone in the universe knows what a Cybertruck looks like?
  2. Adrián Esper Cárdenas, Mayor of Ciudad Valles, San Luis Potosí, Mexico, saw the electric truck as having great potential as a local police and municipal vehicle. He reserved 15 Tesla Cybertrucks!
  3. Mike Gastin described the Cybertruck as a branding masterstroke. At 6:05 into the video he says (and writes) that Tesla is Delivering the Future – Today!
  4. Robert Llewellyn’s recent edition of Fully Charged News is full of the usual rants, this time about the Cybertruck as well as the Mustang Mach-E.
  5. Jameson Dow, writing in Electrek, is claiming that the Cybertruck is popular in markets where other Tesla products have failed to capture interest. “The Tesla Cybertruck is the first time we’ve gotten a chance to compare data between a sedan launch and a pickup launch from the same company. And it turns out that, despite Tesla’s brand appeal on the coasts, the Cybertruck is breaking new ground and doing quite well in the “heartland” – where pickup trucks are traditionally more popular than sedans.”
  6. Here is a reference to Matt Ferrell’s Undecided, who asks: Why do we hate something viscerally at first, and then come to love it a little while later?
  7. There are even more details at Design Prototype Test. It provides some engineering concepts missing in other sources, but there are also misunderstandings. For example, EVs do not have engines, they have motors.

A major challenge with many YouTube videos/ channels is that they are one-person operations, without sufficient quality control. Rants are very easy and cheap to produce. Quality, fact-based information is a little more difficult and expensive to produce. They also requires thought, in addition to emotion.

Tesla Cybertruck: A tidbit

Visitors to the Tesla Cybertruck webpage are greeted with an elongated version of this photo of the Cybertruck ptototype. (Photo: Tesla)

The term pickup is of unknown origin, but was first used by Studebaker in 1913 and by the 1930s had become a generic term for a light-duty truck having an enclosed cab and an open cargo area with low sides and tailgate. In North America, the pickup is mostly used as a passenger car and accounts for about 18% of total American vehicle sales, in part because it benefits from lower fuel and emission control regulations, and tax breaks from the IRS. Full-sized pickups and SUVs account for more than two-thirds of their global pretax earnings of GM, Ford and Fiat-Chrysler, because of their high prices and profit margins.

Elon Musk unveiled Tesla’s first pickup, the Cybertruck, in Los Angeles 2019-11-21. It is battery-powered. Tesla’s stated goal is to displace a large portion of fossil fueled light trucks sold.

Cybertruck’s styling is anything but charming, and many commented that the presentation setting, in both time and place. was that of the original Blade Runner. However, the Cybertruck has many positive characteristics including a durable exterior shell made of a light-weight titanium alloy, for passenger protection. It is also claimed that every component is designed for strength and endurance. These are important considerations in a truck.

Specifications, both estimated and revealed: Vehicle mass = 2 700 kg/ 6 000 lbs; payload = 1 600 kg/ 3 500 lbs; power = 570 kW/ 775 HP; storage space = 2 830 litres/ 100 ft3 ; vault aka bed length = 2 meters/ 6.5 feet; ground clearance = up to 410 mm/ 16 “; approach angle = 35 degrees; departure angle = 28 degrees; seating = 6 in two rows.

Characteristics that vary, depending on the model, are included in the table below.

1- motor 2-motor3-motor
Drive wheelsRWDAWDAWD
Range km/ miles400/ 250500/ 300 800 / 500
0 -100 kph; 0 – 60 mph in s< 6.5< 4.5< 2.9
Top speed kph/ mph177/ 110193/ 120209/ 130
Towing capacity kg/ lb3 400/ 7 5004 500/ 10 0006 350/ 14 000
Price (to closest US$ 1 000)40 00050 00070 000

Compressed air is an important feature of the Cybertruck. It allows for a self-levelling suspension which compensates for variable load. In addition it provides power for pneumatic tools. On-board power inverters supply both 110 and 220-Volt electricity, for electrically powered tools.

At the presentation, Tesla’s armoured glass failed to work as intended, when a steel ball thrown by design chief Franz von Holzhausen shattered two windows in two attempts. The presentation ended with a Tesla Cyberquad electric ATV being loaded onto the truck vault, using built-in tailgate ramps. The Cyberquad was then plugged into the Cybertruck’s onboard power outlet, to charge it.

My hope is that many people currently buying Ford F-150s, Chevrolet Silverados, Rams and other ICE pickups, will be encouraged to buy either a Cybertruck, or a more conventional looking Rivian R1T, or other suitable electric vehicles. Personally, I am not part of the pickup culture. My Brenderup 4310S utility trailer meets almost all of my freight transport needs, and should do so for the rest of my life.

Smartphone Case Materials

For readers under 20, this weblogpost features this photo of a public telephone after it has been vandalized. It may appear to be unrelated to the text, but the materials found here could be repurposed to make a smartphone case, while improving the local environment. Photo: Jakob Owen.

This weblog post is an English language version of content prepared for students in my technology classes. I never was too concerned about the official goals of the course, apart from making sure I could document that they were being met. Some of my goals were to encourage personal expression, and upcycling (or at least reuse) of materials. In addition, another purpose was to encourage thinking about ethical and aesthetic decisions.

Assignment: As part of a design process, you are asked to produce a smartphone case for yourself. This will involve the selection of materials for the case, and the selection of processes to transform the material into a final product. You will have to defend your choices ethically and aesthetically.

While this post presents an overview, it is insufficient in depth to be used to defend your choices. You will have to research your material choices further. Please be aware that fake information abounds. For example, latex is often described as a sap. It isn’t.

Below are some descriptions of some materials that can be used to make smartphone cases. The list is not exhaustive, and you do not have to use materials found here.

Bamboos are evergreen, perennial flowering grasses. They are some of the fastest growing plants in the world. Bamboo has a higher specific compressive strength than wood, brick or concrete, and a specific tensile strength about that of steel.

Smartphone cases can be made from wood. Materials include hardwoods such as cherry, and softwoods, such as redwood.

Smartphone cases can be made from a number of different textile materials. This includes woven fabric from cotton, linen, wool or synthetics. The yarn used to weave with can be dyed prior to weaving, or the fabric can be dyed afterwards. Tie-dying is another approach. Various types of yarn can be knitted or crocheted into cases.

Leather is made from animal hides of cows and other animals. It is very soft and durable. For many people, leather symbolizes style and luxury. For others, it symbolizes animal cruelty. It can be used to make smartphone cases.

There are a wide variety of polymers that have been developed, but only some of them are suitable for smartphone cases. Polymerization is the process of combining many small molecules called monomers into a long chain. Plastics make extensive use of carbon in their chains. Some are natural, most are synthetic.

Synthetic leather is made from different types of plastic, most commonly polyurethane and polyester. It is soft and pliable.

Natural rubber is made from latex, a milky fluid found in 10% of all flowering plants. It is not sap, but a separate substance, separately produced, and with separate functions, but mainly as defence against herbivorous insects. People with latex allergies should avoid smartphone cases made of rubber.

Synthetic rubber is made from petroleum. Both natural and synthetic rubber have very similar characteristics, so it is difficult to tell them apart.

Polycarbonate is used in a wide variety of consumer products. It is very strong and resists breaking. As a protective phone case, it is almost ideal.

Polypropylene is especially useful with injection molding, and its to form different shapes. For that reason, it is very easy to manufacture smartphone cases from it.

Polyurethane is not as strong as polycarbonate but still offers phone protection. Polyurethane can be hard or soft, with many smartphone cases made from recycled polyurethane.

Silicones are polymers that include any synthetic compound made up of repeating units of siloxane, which is a chain of alternating silicon atoms and oxygen atoms, combined with carbon, hydrogen, and sometimes other elements. They have low thermal conductivity; thermal stability from -100 to 250 °C; low chemical reactivity; water repellent; low toxicity; do not support microbiological growth; resistant to oxygen, ozone, and ultraviolet (UV) light; Silicone can be formulated to be electrically insulative or conductive. Silicone’s softness and flexibility makes it useful for protective smartphone cases.

Carbon fiber is a relatively new invention that takes microscopic strands of carbon and weaves them together to make a very strong, resilient material that is stronger and lighter than steel.

People who like the look and feel of their metal smartphones may want a metal smartphone case. Most are made of aluminum, a lightweight metal used in many smart phones.

Because production processes are dependent on the material being processed, it is important to decide on the material to be used, before one decides on the manufacturing process. Said another way, if one has a limited skill set, those (lack of) skills will limit the materials that can be used.

Don’t own/ use a smartphone? No problem, design a case for a delicate object that you carry around with you regularly, and that could benefit from added protection.

Forensics for teachers: A tidbit

In the hydraulic approach to teaching, knowledge is poured into enthusiastic pupils, in much the same way that water is poured over enthusiastic coffee beans, before the dark rich liquid emerges inside a cup. Photo: Ikea

The hydraulic method of teaching consists of cutting open the craniums of pupils, and pouring in knowledge. This approach is fast, simple, effective and most importantly, cheap – because anyone can do it. There is no need to employ expensive teachers.

Information about hydraulics was included in one of my pedagogy textbooks. It struck me that some salient details were missing, such as detailed instructions on how to open a cranium, or pour in knowledge. At what rate should knowledge be poured? What type of knowledge should be used? Even if one advocates the hydraulic method, each and every pupil will require a personalized approach to maximize learning potential.

As strange as it may seem, instead of learning basic brain surgery, it might be more practical for a teacher to learn how to treat each student as an individual, and how to assign appropriate tasks and exercises. This actually eliminates the need for brain surgery, as well as text books – including pedagogy textbooks trying to be cute. Of course, it also assumes that the teacher is competent.

What happens when there is an incompetent teacher? Many situations arise where a teacher is teaching stuff he or she knows absolutely nothing about. Here is an example. Maritime deck officers in training arrived irregularly, at the prison where I worked. Given a choice of making pallets, working in the kitchen or attending school, they invariably opted to focus on learning more about their profession.

They usually express a desire to learn something about ship stability. It is perfectly understandable. Their textbook covering stability, is one of the worst anyone has ever encountered. Yes, even worse than the one about a hydraulic approach to teaching. Each topic is presented superficially, and then there are exercises to complete. No details about the methodology or algorithms used to solve these problems, are provided. At the back of the book, there are answers to some of the questions,  although these questions are never the ones the student needs to submit.

Officially, I had no competence to teach nautical subjects. However, I never let formalities stand in my way. All that was needed to do was to work back from the provided answers and the questions, to deduce the algorithms needed to solve that category of problem. With the algorithms reconstructed, I was then able to make up even more exercises for the student to solve.

Originally written as Textbooks, on 2019.01.12 04:55 / Modified 2019.05.14 10:09 and 2019.11.12 18:12.

The Charm of Endurance

The Workhorse W-15 Hero, renamed the Lordstown Motors Endurance. Photo: Workhorse Group.

In 1998, Workhorse Custom Chassis was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio to take over production of General Motors’ P30/P32 series stepvan and motorhome chassis. By 2005, the company was taken over by Navistar International, its supplier of diesel engines. Navistar then closed the plant in 2012.

AMP Electric Vehicles bought the company in 2015, and changed its name to Workhorse Group Incorporated, scattering attention on electrically and ICE powered delivery vans, buses and recreational vehicles.

In 2016, Workhorse introduced a W-15 Hero prototype, an all-wheel drive plug-in pickup. It used custom battery packs, to provide power to an electric-drive, with a range oft 80 miles/ 130 km. These batteries were housed underneath the vehicle to save space and provide more payload capacity. Confusingly, a BMW three-cylinder generator/ range extender was also provided, making this a hybrid ICE vehicle, rather than a pure battery electric. The vehicle was be built with four motors — one for each wheel — to deliver all-wheel drive. It also had outlets to run power tools off the vehicle battery.

In 2018, Workhorse scattered attention again, by announcing Surefly, its two-seat gasoline/ electric hybrid eVTOL (vertical takeoff and landling) octocopter.

On 2019-11-07, the newly constituted Lordstown Motors Corporation purchased the 576 000 square meter Lordstown Ohio assembly plant from General Motors. This plant originally opened in 1966. Confusingly, some reports say Workhorse Group has a 10% stake in this plant, others state that it has no financial involvement.

The plant has been a political liability for GM since its 2018 announcement that it would not use the facilities. This became an immediate political liability for Donald Trump, who earlier had discouraged supporters from selling their homes in Lordstown because of all the jobs he would bring back to the area

Steve Burns, previous CEO of Workhorse, and current CEO of Lordstown Motors, is fundraising to convert the plant so it can manufacture electric vehicles. What used to be called a Workhorse W-15, is now being called a Lordstown Motors Endurance, targeting pickup truck fleet buyers.

Meanwhile, Workhorse Group is bidding on a contract to make plug-in mail trucks for the U.S. Postal Service. Even if Workhorse wins the postal contract, it is unclear if the Lordstown plant would build those vehicles. Lordstown Motors does have an agreement to transfer the 6 000 existing pre-orders for the W-15/ Endurance from Workhorse Group to Lordstown Motors for production.

Burns has stated that Workhorse and Lordstown Motors share intellectual property related to electric-drive systems.

Production of the W-15/ Endurance is dependent on successful funding. If sufficient funds were raised, Burns said he would work with the UAW (United Auto Workers Union) to hire staff who didn’t transfer to other plants. Burns wants experienced vehicle assemblers to build the trucks.

Lordstown Motors has the money to buy the plant and work on the vehicle, but needs more money to continue development, conduct crash and safety testing, get the truck approved for sale and to retool the factory.

Lordstown Motors is not the only electric pickup attracting attention. The Rivian R1T pickup is possibly the top contender, is fully electric, has an exciting design that it shares in part with its R1S SUV sister, a large fan base willing and able to purchase vehicles, financing under control, and production facilities secured in Normal, Illinois. Ford has also announced its own fully electric version of its F-150 pickup. Yet, the pickup everyone is wanting to learn about is the Tesla Cybertruck, to be unveiled in Los Angeles, 2019-11-21. Which is why anything about the Workhorse W-15 Hero/ Lordstown Motors Endurance had to be pushed out now.

Max Whirlpool: A tidbit

Max Whirlpool (16) shown immediately after being unplugged, and waiting to be escorted outside of the kitchen, for smoking.

Max Whirlpool (16) has been expelled from the kitchen for smoking. A representative from the kitchen, who wishes to remain anonymous because he is unauthorized to speak on behalf of management, stated: “We practice tough love. There is no discrimination. Any electrical appliance caught smoking will be treated exactly the same way as Whirlpool. It will be removed from service. ” He added that Whirlpool has worked in the kitchen since 2003.

Our next microwave oven will not be a Whirlpool. That is not because of any dissatisfaction with Max, until the smoking incident. It is more related to Whirlpool as a corporation. It does not appear to take the health and safety of consumers seriously. In fact, even when one of its products was clearly to blame for a massive loss of life, 72 people, it attempted to blame others.

Recently, the Guardian reported that the Grenfell fire report “… went further than many expected, as did Moore-Bick’s dismissal of attempts by corporate groups to delay or prevent findings that might count against them, such as the “fanciful” claim by Whirlpool – the manufacturer of the Hotpoint fridge-freezer – that the fire could have been started by a cigarette.”

Earlier, the Guardian had reported on another fire, where MP Andy Slaughter said “… the government should learn from a serious fire in his constituency in 2016, when a faulty Indesit tumble dryer started a blaze in the Shepherds Court tower block in Shepherd’s Bush, west London. Residents escaped with minor injuries. Twenty fire engines and 120 firefighters attended the scene.

The same article cited a letter to UK business secretary Larry Clark, where Slaughter stated “that Whirlpool – which owns both Hotpoint and Indesit brands – had “a poor history of fire safety”.

Wikipedia, in a section titled UK Dryer Fire Risk, in its article about Whirlpool Corporation, writes: “Safety warnings about tumble dryers published on the Indesit and Hotpoint websites in 2015 advised customers that “In some rare cases, excess fluff can come into contact with the heating element and present a risk of fire.” Condensers and vented tumble dryers sold under the brands Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline and manufactured over an 11-year period between April 2004 and September 2015 present a fire risk. An estimated 5.3 million tumble dryers were bought in the UK over the time period. Originally, and even after several fires were confirmed as being caused by faulty devices, Whirlpool advised customers that using such devices was safe provided they were not left unattended but would not issue a product recall. Whirlpool offered to fix faulty machines or replace tumble dryers at a cost of £99 – an offer met with derision with consumer groups and in the press. Parliament discussed widespread difficulties with getting faulty machines fixed or replaced, including long wait times and poor service.”

Max’s replacement Sam, a Samsung MS23K3515AW purchased for NOK 900, has arrived in Inderøy. We have spent some time learning how to operate Sam. We are looking forward to working with him to serve our modest microwaving needs in the coming years: reheating food/ beverages and defrosting. Sam is originally from Malaysia.

The Charm of Sandwiches

In a weblog post about sandwiches, no American or Canadian can fail to mention Dagwood Bumstead and his impossibly high Dagwood sandwiches. Chic Young (1901-1973) created the comic strip Blondie 1930-09-08. It relates the adventures of flapper Blondie Boopadoop both before, but especially after, her marriage to Dagwood, and their life together with children Alexander and Cookie and dog Daisy, in Joplin, Missouri. In my childhood, this comic strip was required reading.

In this weblog post, the topic is the vegan recreation of iconic meat based sandwiches including tuna, clubhouse and BLT – bacon, lettuce, tomato. It is inspired by an article in the Guardian, about upcoming vegetarian makeover at Pret a Manger: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/oct/17/pret-a-manger-gives-blt-a-vegan-makeover

Some common ingredients: Cheese, at Cliff Cottage, refers specifically to just one variant – Cheddar, which was the only type of cheese its residents actually grew up with; Roasted shiitake mushrooms are used to imitate rashers of bacon; mayonnaise can be regular or vegan, depending on whether or not the consumption of eggs is a dietary consideration.

Cheese Fantasy (a Cheese Dream, but without the bacon)

Open-faced grilled cheese sandwich with roasted shiitake mushrooms.

FLT (Fungus, lettuce, tomato)

Pret a Manger refers to their equivalent as VLT, as if mushrooms were vegetables. Roasted shiitake mushrooms, with sliced tomatoes, green salad and mayonnaise. The mayonnaise can be filled with finely chopped tofu.

Funa (fake tuna)

Kabuli chickpeas aka garbanzo beans, can successfully mimic tuna. They are crushed then flavoured with chopped pickled onions, capers and seaweed mixed with vegan or regular mayonnaise, depending on whether or not the consumption of eggs is a problem. The precise formulations are left as an experimental exercise.

Gladys sandwich

This sandwich is named after Gladys Love Presley (née Smith; 1912 – 1958) who made these sandwiches for her son, Elvis (1935 – 1977). It consists of toasted bread slices with peanut butter, sliced or mashed banana. Originally it sometimes contained bacon. Where this taste is wanted, roasted shiitake mushrooms can be substituted. Honey is sometimes used as a condiment.

Hangout (is the new clubhouse)

Wikipedia tells us that vegetarian club sandwiches often include hummus, avocado or spinach, as well as substitute the real bacon with a vegetarian alternative. Mustard and sometimes honey mustard are common condiments. The sandwich is commonly served with an accompaniment of either coleslaw, or potato salad, and often garnished with a pickle. Due to high fat and carb content from the bread, bacon and dressing, club sandwiches have sometimes been criticized as unhealthy.

Waterloo Sandwich

Food writers James Beard (1903 – 1985) and Evan Jones (1915 – 1996) believed that the Denver sandwich was created by Chinese chefs who cooked for logging camps and railroad gangs in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and was probably derived from egg foo young. The first written reference to a Denver sandwich appears 1903-04-07 in the, Semi Weekly Iowa State Reporter (Waterloo, Iowa), pg.  6, col. 1. In honour of this, the hamless equivalent of a Denver sandwich, has been renamed the Waterloo sandwich. It features shiitake mushrooms, onions and green peppers in a cheese omelette.

Conclusion

Reducing red meat consumption in sandwiches doesn’t seem to be a major problem, as long as one appreciates roasted shiitake mushrooms!

Climate Crisis Links: A tidbit

Does this image meet all seven principles for climate visuals? Check out the last link in the list below to find out. In the great climate debate, it may be difficult to tell – or even to know – what truth is, for there can be many different varieties and perspectives on it. However, attempting to tell a truth is better than the alternative, which is to engage in obscuring it, which is much broader problem than that of simply telling obvious lies. Photo: Joël de Vriend

The world is in crisis, and it is time to act now. There is only one person who can decide how you should act, and what you should prioritize. Despite this caveat, here are some links.

World Scientists’ warning of a climate emergency 2019-11-05: https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/biz088/5610806

Nobody is prepared: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/05/most-countries-climate-plans-totally-inadequate-experts

Previous warning statements to put current events into perspective

Second warning (2017): https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/67/12/1026/4605229

First warning (1992): https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/1992-world-scientists-warning-humanity

UN Sustainable Development Goals website: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs

The 7 climate visuals principles: https://climatevisuals.org/evidence-behind-climate-visuals

The Charm of a Uniti

The production model Uniti One, available in three gray colours. (Photo: Uniti)

Uniti began life as an open innovation project at Lund University in 2015, then emerged as a Swedish electric vehicle startup in 2016. It is developing an advanced city car. What first attracted my attention, was the replacement of the steering wheel with a joy-stick. Most of the mechanical system appeared equally innovative, and claimed to be sustainable, whatever that means.

Prototype development was funded through an equity-crowdfunding campaign on the Swedish platform FundedByMe, with 570 investors contributing €1,227,990.

The design mandate of the Uniti One seems to be in a state of flux. At one time, it was a relatively unsafe L7e quadricycle. Now, thankfully, it is being lauched as a M1 vehicle requiring crash testing, and more safety equipment. Other details, such as seating arrangements have also been subject to change. It was a side by side 2 seater, before it became one with one person sitting behind another. Now it is launching as a 3 seater, with a driver in the middle in front, with space for two passengers behind. Trunk space is adequate to hold a packed lunch and a charging cable, at 155 litres.

With a 50 kW electric motor and 62 Nm of torque, and a mass under 600 kg, the Uniti One can reach 100 km/h in less than 10 seconds. It has a computer controlled top speed of 120 km/h.

The Uniti One comes with an electrochromatic panoramic roof that darkens automatically to keep the car cool when parked in direct sunlight. Its virtual sun visor darkens the top of the windshield when the sun is in the drivers eyes.

An Android operating system controls the infotainment system and most of the standard features of the car. Voice commands can be issued. Its systems are regularly updated over the air.

A high strength safety cage surrounds the driver and passengers keeps interior deformation to a minimum, in the event of a collision. Other standard safety equipment include driver’s airbag, anti-lock braking, electronic stability control and a tire pressure monitoring system. The Intel MobilEye 6 collision avoidance system provides forward collision and lane departure warnings, speed limit indicator, and warning for potential collisions with pedestrians or bicycles and their riders, in real time.

In its current state, what appeals most about the Uniti One is that much of the equipment is optional, which means that people declining options can end up with a lower cost vehicle. Currently, the base model costs about €18 000, before subsidies. The only options I would insist on would be the Intel Mobileye 6 collision avoidance system (€ 700), winter tires (€ 400) and possibly air conditioning (€ 300). This is not a highway vehicle, so a 150 km range with a standard 12 kWh battery and a slow 3.2 kW charger seem adequate. It seems wasteful to spend €2 800 each on a 24 kWh battery and a 22 kW charger.

In terms of a computer vehicle transporting one person and a lunch bag in an urban environment, this is probably a good choice except, in urban environments there is public transport, which would be a better choice.

That said, my greatest disappointment with the production vehicle is its steering wheel, with no joy-stick in sight.

Uniti One interior, available in gray. (Photo: Uniti)