As urbanization grows, more and more cities face increasing congestion, air pollution, and parking shortages, leading them to ban vehicles and introduce tolls. Thus, the cost of owning a vehicle in the city is constantly on the rise. Car sharing can solve these problems – but only when you use the right vehicles. SVEN, the successor to the PPV 1.0 that was described in the previous article, was designed specifically with these kinds of problems in mind and is being developed by Aachen-based company share2drive in collaboration with FEV.
SPECTRUM spoke with Markus Volm (CEO of share2drive) and Klaus Wolff (Group Vice President for Vehicle Development at FEV) about the background and potential of the joint project known as “SVEN.”
What exactly is SVEN and how did you come up with the name?
Volm: SVEN stands for “Shared Vehicle Electric Native.” The first half, “shared vehicle” means that the fleet of vehicles can be jointly used by residents of the city – different drivers, same vehicles. The rest, “electric native,” speaks to the fact that the vehicle is purely electric and therefore a zero-emissions vehicle, which is particularly important and sustainable for urban and heavily populated areas.
When did you come up with the idea for SVEN and how did the development proceed?
Volm: We came up with the idea for the vehicle nearly eight years ago in collaboration with FH Aachen. We wanted to find a solution that would meet people’s current demands when it comes to mobility in the city. Over time, we realized that as newcomers, we needed not only an idea, but also strong partners with the industry knowledge necessary to help us bring SVEN to the market. After almost ten months, we found the partner we needed: FEV. They are helping us with complete development of SVEN and moving the project forward by leaps and bounds.
How did share2drive and FEV start collaborating?
Wolff: Aachen is considered to be a technological stronghold of mobility in Germany, and, with the ambitious SVEN concept, share2drive has already made a name for itself in this region. In turn, FEV, as a development service provider of complete vehicles, is always on the lookout for new approaches and solutions for mobility in the future. It very quickly became clear that FEV can provide the professionalism crucial to the project’s development and help drive the project forward. We are so convinced by SVEN that we have now even integrated share2drive GmbH into the FEV Group.
What do you see to be the benefits of car sharing?
Volm: Car sharing closes the gap between personal and public transportation. In sharing vehicles with other residents of the city, you save on fixed costs that you would normally have to pay if you owned your own vehicle. All the while, you retain the flexibility of being able to drive wherever you want, whenever you want – without predetermined departure times and routes.
SVEN provides the perfect solution for this. Car sharing provides a cost-efficient way of getting from A to B – without ongoing expenses.
What sets SVEN apart from other car sharing services?
Volm: We are taking a new approach with SVEN. We looked at the demands and needs facing car-sharing vehicles in cities today. That’s why we made SVEN extremely compact, so it is easy to maneuver and fits in practically any parking space – even sideways, due to its length of only 2.5 meters. We gave it a sliding door, which means you can enter and exit the vehicle comfortably even when there’s not much space. At the same time, it can transport up to three people despite its compact dimensions, and it also offers enough room for shopping bags or larger luggage thanks to its trunk space and foldable seats. This is unprecedented.
Wolff: During development, it was important for us to find an affordable and easy way to repair “parking damage” in order to significantly reduce operating costs, which play a big role in car sharing. We also took care to ensure that the vehicle is very easy to operate and therefore can truly be driven by anyone. For instance, we kept the number of buttons and knobs in the vehicle to a minimum and emphasized intuitive operation in general. Because SVEN is a fully electric vehicle, we also meet another important requirement: zero-emissions mobility, meaning cleaner air in cities and near-silent driving. Here’s another standard we want to set: In the future, SVEN will also be equipped with technology for, say, autonomous parking, saving time for its driver and passengers.
How exactly does FEV’s expertise come into the picture when it comes to SVEN?
Wolff: We support share2drive in various areas, such as car body, interior, chassis, and powertrain, and can build on great planning. In addition, we help integrate ADAS components that SVEN will be equipped with in preparation for autonomous driving. We also integrate systems for vehicle connectivity to ensure that it can communicate with other vehicles and so that SVEN can take the needs of its drivers into account even before ignition: it could set the desired temperature, adjust the seating position, or put on favorite music – however the driver wants it. There are also some other aspects that come into play – for example, different usage models in the car sharing program or cashless payment.
When will SVEN be available on the market?
Volm: You’ll be seeing SVEN on the road in two to three years. We’ll be introducing SVEN to the general public at the Geneva Motor Show this coming spring, and then we plan to present a drivable prototype in fall 2019.
Thank you for the interview.
SVEN redefines urban Mobility:
- Maximum speed: 120 km/h
- 0–50 km/h: 5 s
- 0–100 km/h: 15 s
- Maximum range (NEDC): 120 km
- Minimum range: 80 km
- Vehicle length: 2.5 m
- Vehicle width: 1.75 m
- Vehicle height: 1.65 m
- Turning radius: 8 m