Reinventing the Automobile

Tesla may be the Alpha in the field of electric vehicles (EVs) but there are other, albeit smaller, ventures making waves. Many of these ventures try to (more or less) stick with established, but updated, design options, keeping the expected aesthetic, but with the upgraded energy source or autonomous capabilities. Another major concern with these vehicles is known as "range anxiety," or the worry over the vehicle having enough of a charge to complete trips. While most companies are looking to lessen that anxiety, one has decided to embrace the limits.

One Swedish company is redesigning electric automobiles distinctly for short distance driving with a unique flair for design. Swedish startup, Uniti, has pledged to release a prototype of its namesake Uniti EV by 2017, after reaching crowdfunding goals just two days after it revealed its campaign.

One way it has "reinvented" automobiles is doing away with the bulkier designs of its predecessors. It wants to remove all the "unnecessary features and attributes" of traditional cars and current EVs, and create a small, lightweight EV perfect for the requirements of city driving.

Moreover, its interior has also been redesigned, with its steering system resembling a Wii controller more than a traditional steering wheel.

The goal is to eventually nix the controls altogether and aim for autonomy. In fact, the windshield also functions as a futuristic heads-up display featuring "batshit crazy gaming and entertainment options," according to the company's own tech specs.

Goal Setting

Redefining automobiles in general may sound like a lofty goal, but with many redesigns of the Uniti, they may end up actually fulfilling the promise. They are also shaking up the process of being an automaking company, with equity crowdfunding as their financing source. They are also open sourcing some of their designs, and making their cars from biomaterials.

Uniti is also countering criticism of EVs as expensive machines. While the marketing may be targeting "high-income urban millennials", its US$23,000 asking price may put EVs in that hands of more than the US$66,000 starting prices of Tesla vehicles.

Indeed, Uniti indicates the coming maturity of EVs, not just as high-priced novelty items for the rich, but as affordable eco-friendly alternatives to our gas-guzzling cars.

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