Almost all mainstream EVs are sleek, fast, high-tech looking things with an operating range of about 200 miles or more. And while those are all desirable traits, they really don’t do you much good when you’re crawling through city traffic at 27 mph or stuck on a charger for 45 minutes.
Sometimes the less obvious way can prove to be the better way, and I think this small German company, ACM may have realized that with their charmingly industrial-looking tiny battery-swappable EVCity One.
City One is designed like a Japanese KE-Type “tall boy” Small Car – Small exterior dimensions, with a tall, boxy body to maximize interior space. Adaptive City Mobility (ACM) designed the car (which is a bit bigger than it actually is) KE-Class dimensions, 141.7 inches long) is a type of multi-purpose, mainly capable of use as city transport equipment, taxis, shared-use cars, small delivery vans and a general passenger car.
Here, watch a video about it:
It can hold five passengers plus 14 cubic feet of luggage or can be a small van with more than 51 cubic feet of cargo room; That’s about half that of a Ford Transit Connect van, which is pretty good for such a small vehicle.
I think what really makes this little EV so interesting is how it handles its battery and recharging. The car has a primary battery which I believe is mounted flat under the floor, now standard The EV skateboards approach, but there are also four slots under the rear cargo floor that can take 2.5 kWh battery modules, each weighing just over 23 pounds.
If I’m reading the specs correctly, all together, these removable 48V batteries add up to about 75 miles of range. The main battery appears to have a range of about 149 miles, and then these four swappable batteries add up to 75 miles of their own, and can be swapped out very quickly and easily.
There’s also an optional battery roof box that holds four more swappable batteries, which will bring the total system’s range to 300 miles, of which 150 miles will be the rapidly swappable battery.
This seems like a great solution to me. You’ll charge the main battery at home or wherever you park the car overnight—the ACM is focusing on general household wall-socket charging, as they correctly determined that normal wall outlets can still be used for special EVs. Far more common than fast chargers are:
As such, it looks like they’ve worked to keep the charging time short – eight hours for normal wall-outlet charging, and five hours for fast charging.
That, plus additional batteries that can be quickly and easily swapped out by one person without any special tools this little machine Unlimited range potential, provided a network of battery swap locations can be set up which, in this context, would take very little resources, real estate and money to set up.
Battery swapping kiosks can be installed at any gas station, conveniently, taking up far less space than those propane tank-swapping setups in a lot of gas stations.
I think the overall design of this thing is great; It looks rugged and friendly and utilitarian, all qualities I love. The use cases chosen for the One require a pretty hard-wearing interior, which, again, is something I appreciate anyway.
The dash seems to be all molded, unglazed plastic, the seat material feels rigid, and it looks like it has a rubber mat instead of carpetA solid option, too.
The rear seat folds into a hard, flat loading surface with guard rails, and it appears you can cram a lot there.
The guard rail is particularly clever, as it hinges along the rear headrest, so when you flip them down to fold the seat, the rails flip over. This is a good design.
It appears to have an e-ink display integrated into the backdoor for branding and advertising:
It sounds like concept-car tech-wanking, but there’s really nothing to stop it, and an e-ink display is far more energy efficient than an LCD, so it’s not a bad choice.
I can’t find the horsepower numbers for it, and while I don’t expect them to be much, I think it’s enough to hit normal city speeds and, probably, the minimum. Highway speed?
The target markets for City One are Asia, Africa and possibly some European. Sadly but not surprisingly, the US is not on the list.
Target pricing for these ranges from around $12,000 to $18,000, and will be primarily targeted at fleet sales.
Personally, I’d drive something like this without hesitation as a daily driver. Maybe if that goes well the company might consider a Scion XB-scale version for the US, same basic look and layout, but with a somewhat upgraded battery and motor?
ACM will be the first to show it publicly here IAA Mobility Show Next week in Munich. Thanks to BMW, I’m going there, so I’m going to hunt down these guys and see if they’ll let me drive one of these, or at least answer a few questions.
More of this, please.