Could a $10k solar-powered Squad car provide a commuter headache solution in NZ?

The Squad solar-powered car has a modular system, meaning it can be tailored to suit individual needs.
The car has a modular system, meaning it can be tailored to suit individual needs. Photo credit: Squad Mobility

There was morning chaos in Auckland today with schools back and dreadful weather - but could a new solar-powered car help provide some long-term commuter relief in our biggest cities?

The Squad - an abbreviation of solar quadricycle - is a new urban car designed in Amsterdam that costs under NZ$10,000 and is set to go into production next year.

It has a small footprint compared to normal vehicles, at just around 2m squared, compared to 10m squared for most cars. This would allow four Squads to park in a single parking spot.

And, because it runs on batteries charged by the sun, it could also help Aotearoa achieve its climate change targets.

The Government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

One of the ways it's trying to do so is by offering a Clean Car Discount to make it cheaper for New Zealanders to switch to an electric vehicle.

The lack of emissions with the Squad is due to the solar panel on its roof that can add 20km worth of charge per day from the European sun - so potentially even more in Aotearoa. It also charges in the shade.

With a full battery it has a range of around 100km - but the batteries are portable and can be charged from normal power sockets, so can be swapped out easily if more range is necessary.

The initial L6 Squad seats two people with storage in the back while the later L7 version will have optional seats for children. Its modular based system will mean it is configurable for all ages and mobilities too. 

It's also weatherproof, which would mean motorcyclists and electric scooter users who want to avoid a deluge could still have a zippy and flexible option for getting to work.

The doors can be ditched during summer, however, if drivers want to avoid air conditioning that could drain the battery.

The L6 has a top speed of 45 km/h, while the L7 will top the range at 65 km/h and both come with an aluminium roll cage with full front and rear protection in the event of a crash.

No car license is required to drive the Squad in Europe and with seatbelts it means helmets are not legally required either.

Squad Mobility, the company behind the car, says it is designed as Mobility as a Service (MaaS) - meaning companies would be more likely to run branded versions that consumers could hire rather than individuals necessarily buying one.