In the future, more and more goods and people will be transported with electric engines. Electromobility is not only spreading rapidly in everyday life, but is increasingly fascinating design and luxury enthusiasts, on land, on water and in the air. While exciting projects and spectacular prototypes are about to go into series production in many places, others have already successfully taken off.
By Kay Alexander Plonka.
More than 100 years ago, the dream of flying came true. In 2024, the German aviation company Volocopter wants to revolutionise flying from the ground up. Passengers in Paris and Singapore will then be able to take off on selected routes in the electric VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) air taxi. Initially with a pilot, later on autonomously. Before the end of this year, the Bavarian company based in Bruchsal, with additional offices and development sites in Munich and Singapore, plans to put cargo drones into the air for commercial use in several countries.
E-Bikes, Pedelecs und Velomobiles
Nevertheless, for the time being, the cargo bike remains the undisputed winner on the famous last mile. Whether on the cycle path past the traffic jam or into the most remote backyard – where there are limits to the delivery van, the cargo bike scores. A new category of vehicles for sustainable urban goods transport is being launched by the Berlin logistics specialists from ONOMOTION. Their roofed e-cargo tricycle is a hybrid of electric bike and car. Their vision: to create mobility solutions that make big cities cleaner, safer and quieter. The founders Murat Günak, for many years chief designer at Mercedes and the Volkswagen Group, Beres Seelbach, established vehicle engineer, and Philipp Kahle as a thought leader in the field of electric mobility in Germany, initially focused on the courier, express and parcel service segment to prove profitability and efficiency. In the future, their modular system will cover almost the entire needs of city logistics from the service sector to freight forwarding and waste disposal. In this way, they want to enable faster and more efficient movement while saving space and resources to reduce the burden on the environment.
Sports car manufacturer Porsche will also be focusing more on e-bikes in the future when it comes to electric mobility. To this end, the Zuffenhausen-based company has joined forces with Storck Bicycle to create the new Cyklaer bicycle brand. The smart pedelec not only follows the gravel bike trend, in which racing bikes are made equally suitable for off-road use and for everyday use in the city, but also allows the electrical components such as the battery and motor to disappear almost completely from the frame design. The sporty, elegant parallelogram look of the full carbon frame predominates, rather than a clunky electric drive unit or attached battery box. The highlight: the mid-motor solution weighs only 4.6 kilograms and can be removed from the down tube. The 15-kilogram bike can travel around 120 km on one battery charge. Another highlight is the Cyklaer app developed by Porsche Digital in combination with the SP Connect iPhone holder, which is integrated centrally in the handlebar as an information and control unit. Thanks to the inductive charging system, the smartphone can be charged while riding. The bike also has a front and rear camera. The latter also serves as a digital rear-view mirror in conjunction with the iPhone. The extraordinary electric racing bike with innovative high-tech features is available at a price of around 7,000 euros.
From Sweden comes an e-bike that makes the hearts of motocross riders beat faster. The manufacturer Cake has specialised in electric motorbikes in the light motorbike segment and promises a completely new quality of riding pleasure, with zero emissions and a good conscience. The minimalist-looking Kalk model is reduced to the essentials and weighs less than 70 kilos, has a range of 80 kilometres and the 15 kW engine promises a lot of riding fun both off-road and on-road thanks to its enormous torque and the suspension from shock absorber specialist Öhlins.
Until now, e-scooters have been rather cute and clumsy. In the future, the Berlin start-up Naon wants to bring the locally produced premium scooter Zero-One to the market, which should not only be functional and of high quality, but above all meet aesthetic demands. The purist design of the prototype with aluminium frame and LED headlights is somewhat reminiscent of science fiction vehicles from the next millennium. For around 5,000 euros, there will be a 45 km/h version with a range of 140 kilometres as well as a model costing around 6,500 euros with a 100 km/h top speed. In production in the greater Munich area, the Berliners want to use predominantly both recycled and recyclable materials and also set up a recycling system for batteries.
In Munich, the Sono Motors team is working on the first series-produced electric car with solar integration and bidirectional charging. The Sion is to be built with numerous parts from Germany at the former Saab plant in Sweden and will have a range of 250 to 300 km. The two founders Laurin Hahn and Jona Christians started their e-car project in a Munich garage in 2016 and caused a sensation three years later with an impressive 53 million euro crowdfunding campaign. In November 2021, the two founders pulled off a brilliant Nasdaq IPO in New York. The 25,000 euro electric car is supposed to generate electricity for 30 km per day by seamlessly integrating solar cells into the vehicle’s surface. The start of production and the first deliveries of the Sion are now planned for the first half of 2023.
This could mean that as early as the summer of 2022, the first edition of the solar-powered e-car from the Dutch brand Lightyear One, which is also limited to around 1,000 units, will beat the Munich-based company to the punch. The efficiency-trimmed luxury sedan with five seats is built in Uusikaupunki, Finland. A range of 725 km with a consumption of less than 10 kWh per 100 kilometres is said to be possible thanks to the aerodynamic body with a cW value of less than 0.20. The elegant car with a length of just over five metres is powered by four-wheel hub motors and will cost about 150,000 euros. In return, the solar cells on the vehicle’s roof will generate electricity for a range of up to 12 km per hour of sunshine.
True rally fans will get their money’s worth with the reinterpretation of the legendary Audi Sport Quattro from the 1980s. At a price of 890,000 euros plus VAT, ELEGEND AG, based in Beilngries, Bavaria, is launching its electric super sports car EL1 on the market from this year in a small series of 30 units manufactured by hand. The race track and everyday coupé combines forward-looking technology with a passion for automotive racing and retro-futuristic design. With an output of 600 kW / 816 hp, the bolide weighing only 1,680 kilograms accelerates to 100 km/h in 2.8 seconds. The top speed is around 300 km/h. Under the newly designed body, carbon monocoque, all-wheel drive, 90 kWh battery and three electric motors combine to create a breathtaking symbiosis of power and driving pleasure. A luxury dream for all ambitious car enthusiasts.
No less striking are the futuristic and fully electric vans and pick-ups from the Californian start-up Canoo, which are to be available from the end of 2022. The versatile lifestyle vehicles are to be produced in Europe by the Dutch company VDL NedCar at prices starting at 30,000 euros and, in addition to their extremely minimalist and at the same time highly functional design, are particularly impressive due to their sustainable and cost-effective manufacturing methods. Based on the patented and extremely versatile platform architecture, the multi-purpose delivery vehicle with low operating costs and class-leading cargo volume will initially be offered in two size variants and is aimed at small businesses and commercial users. Despite its sleek lines, the elegant pick-up truck aims to set new standards in function, form and usability and is suitable for a wide range of applications thanks to its high payload.
Under the brand X Shore, Swedish entrepreneur Konrad Bergström has been realising his long-standing dream of a noiseless and odourless motorboat since 2019. His electrically powered boats glide through the water without disturbing animals, plants or the environment. They are powered by a vibration-free 220 kW electric motor built in Switzerland. Excellent acceleration and speed coupled with exceptional range are provided by three extra-lightweight lithium-ion batteries with 120 kWh capacity. The hull of the six-and-a-half and eight-metre-long boats is inspired by the shape of the South American electric eel. It takes in air at the sides, forming a layer of air bubbles between the hull and the water. This reduces friction and saves energy. The Eelex from X Shore is said to be able to easily cover 100 nautical miles on one battery charge when cruising slowly through the water, which corresponds to around 170 kilometres. But even at sporty speeds of 25 knots, the battery is supposed to last for two and a half hours. The top speed of the elegant boat is 40 knots, which is equivalent to about 75 km/h. The boats are manufactured in Germany. The boats are built in elaborate handicraft south of Stockholm in the traditional Storebro shipyard at prices starting at 250,000 euros.
10 years German Design Awards, 10 years of design history
Groundbreaking design, excellent projects and products, young talents and the Who’s Who of the design industry – for ten years now, the German Design Council has been honouring outstanding achievements with the German Design Award. What are the trends, who provides answers to current challenges and who is thinking towards the future? Discover with us the winners of the German Design Award 2022 and the best from 10 years!
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