Am­ber goes all elec­tric to bet­ter car-shar­ing ser­vices

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - STU RO­BARTS

RIDE-SHAR­ING and car­pool­ing ser­vices al­ready of­fer ways to get around town with­out hav­ing to own a car.

Dutch start-up Am­ber also be­lieves that car own­er­ship is ex­pen­sive and in­ef­fi­cient, and is launch­ing a no-has­sle, on­de­mand, car-shar­ing ser­vice that will fea­ture its own elec­tric car, the Am­ber One, that’s been specif­i­cally de­signed for shar­ing.

The firm ar­gues that, de­spite pay­ing for main­te­nance, taxes, in­sur­ance and fuel, own­ers typ­i­cally only use their cars a small per­cent­age of the time. The rest of the time, they re­main parked and un­used. The com­pany is aim­ing to give users of its ser­vice ac­cess to a car within half an hour and within walk­ing dis­tance when­ever they need one, and at a cost of €33 (R500) per week.

It plans to spread the cost of run­ning its fleet across its users and to min­imise in­ef­fi­ciency and costs by keep­ing each car in use as much as pos­si­ble.

The real in­no­va­tion, though, is not in the mo­bil­ity-as-a-ser­vice model, which is sim­i­lar to schemes op­er­ated by the likes of Turo and Maven, but the car it­self. The Am­ber One is an elec­tric ve­hi­cle that has been de­signed from the ground up.

Am­ber says it will be mod­u­lar, so as to be eas­ily up­grade­able, and ca­pa­ble of do­ing 1,5 mil­lion kilo­me­tres over the course of its life­span. This mod­u­lar­ity and long life­span is an­other way Am­ber hopes to keep costs to a min­i­mum.

Am­ber prom­ises ac­cel­er­a­tion from 0-100 km/h in a re­spectable seven sec­onds, cour­tesy in part of a low 650 kg weight. The top speed will re­port­edly be 150 km/h, and the range 400 km per charge. Users will lo­cate, un­lock and start the cars us­ing an ac­com­pa­ny­ing app on their smart­phone.

The first Am­ber One pro­to­types are ex­pected to hit the roads next year, with small scale test­ing sched­uled to be­gin in 2018. Am­ber in­tends to make its ser­vice first avail­able in Eind­hoven in 2020.

Mean­while, the com­pany has part­nered with a car lease com­pany for a cor­po­rate mo­bil­ity pro­gramme that’s due to be­gin next month. Am­ber will make use of reg­u­lar elec­tric ve­hi­cles for this busi­ness-to-busi­ness model, which will also serve as a test­ing and de­vel­op­ment plat­form for the com­pany’s soft­ware and ser­vices.

PHOTO: AM­BER

The Am­ber One aims to go Dutch on car trans­port.

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