The Volkswagen Group’s SEAT brand unveils a new electric-powered quadricycle concept called the Minimó at the 2019 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, suggesting it will go into production in 2021.
The pint-sized 2-seater has been developed as an answer to increasing traffic congestion and increasingly stringent emission regulations, says SEAT, which also plans to display the Minimó at this week’s 2019 Geneva auto show press preview.
SEAT’s focus on subcompact urban personal transport follows the Spanish automaker’s earlier eXS KickScooter concept first revealed in November 2018. Developed in partnership with Segway, the eXS also sought solutions to the urban mobility problems currently facing many European metropolitan areas.
At just 98.4 ins. (2,499 mm) long and 48.8 ins. (1,240 mm) wide, the Minimó boasts similar dimensions to the similarly conceived Renault Twizy, which has been on sale in Europe since 2012. This gives it a significantly smaller footprint than SEAT’s existing entry-level model, the 140.0-in. (3,556-mm) long and 64.6-in. (1,641-mm) wide Mii.
The narrow measurements have been achieved through the adoption of a motorcycle-like tandem seating arrangement, which places the passenger behind the driver (below, left). Other features include asymmetrical doors designed to open in tight parking spaces, a single triangular headlamp and exposed 17-in. alloy wheels.
Inside, the Minimó receives a flat-bottom multifunction sports steering wheel, combined digital instrument and infotainment display, wireless smartphone charging, a keyless entry and starting function and Android Auto support for voice commands via Google Assistant.
In a showcase of technology being developed for other SEAT models, the concept also features 5G connectivity jointly developed with Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica. SEAT says the new system allows communication between the Minimó, the surrounding infrastructure and other vehicles as an initial step toward fully autonomous collaborative driving.
SEAT confirms at the Mobile World Congress it is preparing the Minimó for Level 4 autonomous driving which, in addition to delivering occupants to their destinations, is conceived to allow it to locate and collect users when requested as part of a car-sharing mobility scheme.
SEAT has not revealed details of the Minimó’s electric drivetrain, claiming only that its 15-kWh lithium-ion battery can provide a range of up to 62 miles (100 km) between charges. To negate the need for lengthy charge times, the Spanish automaker has provided its latest concept with a replaceable battery which can be removed from a frame under the passenger compartment and exchanged for a charged unit.
In addition to unveiling the Minimó, SEAT uses the Mobile World Congress to announce plans for an in-house software division to be located in Barcelona.
CEO Luca de Meo says SEAT’s decision to lead its own software development is behind the move, which will see the automotive software think tank open within the next 12 months. “Cars have 10 times more code than a smartphone, and we estimate that will multiply by 10 when hyperconnectivity kicks in,” he says.