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Sweden’s Clean Motion AB was founded in 2010 with a vision to develop and manufacture truly sustainable products that the majority of the world’s population can afford. It’s developing a range of vehicles that fit somewhere between conventional cars and scooters.
Göran Folkesson, CEO at Clean Motion AB, has been talking to Auto Futures. He started off by explaining his background.
“I was more or less born in the automotive industry, raised in Trollhättan with a father that was an executive at Saab and later Skoda, Volvo Trucks and Volvo Cars. As a mechatronics engineer, I started my career at Volvo Cars electrical development in 1994. During these years it became painfully clear that the automotive industries efforts in electrification were far from enough to make the transition into sustainable transportation,” says Folkesson.
“Over the years I have thought about different concepts to make a resource and energy efficient vehicle and finally in 2010 I decided to form Clean Motion with a small group of co-founders,” he adds.
Clean Motion’s first vehicle was the Zbee, a light electric three-wheeled vehicle that comes in two versions; with a rear seat or with cargo space. Folkesson says the Zbee is aimed at personal last mile transport.
“The Zbee is a resource and energy optimized vehicle for urban transport. The focus is to reduce weight in order to minimize the need for batteries (the least sustainable element of electric vehicles). As far as we know, Zbee is the most energy efficient vehicle with a body. This means that the need for charging infrastructure is minimized.”
Re:volt is a compact, and modular all-electric delivery van, developed to meet the demand for sustainable last-mile transports in cities. It features a solar panel roof that adds up to 100 kilometres extra range per day.
Production is expected to start in autumn 2022.
“The Zbee is available already and the plan is to start European manufacturing of the Re:volt in second half of 2022. For emerging markets the strategy is to offer license manufacturing of our vehicles locally in micro factories.”
“Our focus on energy and resource efficiency is even more relevant in autonomous scenarios.”
Back in 2015, Clean Motion performed tests with solar cell roofs, but the technology was not mature enough. Since then, it’s come of age and the efficiency of solar cells has increased sharply.
The company has subsequently entered into a partnership with Finland’s Valoe Oy to integrate its solar cells into the roofs of its vehicles.
“The reason for adding solar panels have several benefits. It means that we can further reduce the battery size, we can eliminate the need for charging infrastructure. It is even possible to do electrification of the mobility sector a reality in countries that do not have electricity as a commodity,” says Folkesson.
“Through additional improvements in drivetrain efficiency and with the addition of highly efficient (23%) solar panels on the roof we will eliminate the need of charging infrastructure in most parts of the world (not wintertime Sweden).”
Clean Motion has already started the development of a self driving delivery version of Zbee.
“Since Zbee is designed to be a sustainable urban vehicle, it is natural to continue to build and automate it, instead of starting from scratch with heavy vehicles that do not belong in cities,” says Christoffer Sveder, Sales & Marketing at Clean Motion.
“We are participating in autonomous research projects but do not have a set plan for developing autonomous vehicles at the moment. We believe that level 5 is required to be of any business use and that seems to still be a quite distant goal. However, we believe that our focus on energy and resource efficiency is even more relevant in autonomous scenarios. Perhaps there is a possible relevant use case for autonomous driving with solar vehicle for rural deliveries rather than urban deliveries,” adds Folkesson.
Agility Over Size
With the COP26 summit of world leaders just around the corner, attention is being drawn to mobility solutions that can reduce harmful emissions.
“We have the ability to provide zero-emission vehicles without the need for charging infrastructure which is the typical hen and egg story. Therefore we can quickly ramp up the vehicle fleet without heavy investments. Furthermore, by offering license manufacturing locally we will help with employment opportunities in the green sector further accelerating local economic growth.”
Finally, we asked Folkesson what urban mobility and last-mile delivery will look like by the end of the decade.
“I think that the EU will lead the decarbonization of the economy over the next ten years. The mission ‘100 renewable cities by 2030’ will mean that in at least 100 cities the urban mobility is 100% electric. In order to make that feasible we will see a lot of smaller vehicles replacing the big diesel vans. The trend is also moving towards faster deliveries which again points in a direction where more agile vehicles will replace the large ones,” he concludes.