As businesses look for alternatives to the traditional internal combustion engines, the temptation is to convert existing vehicles by retrofitting them with a battery and an electric motor. In reality, the benefits of an electric vehicle are better realized in lighter, smaller vehicles.
Research firm CBinsights recently identified 10 trends shaping the auto and mobility industries. Among them: modular design that allows users to customize vehicles for specific needs and that can be converted to carry people and deliver items.
Low-speed electric compact utility vehicle manufacturer and distributor, Tropos Motors, was formed out of decades of experience working across all levels of electric vehicle design. Its ABLE™ line of electric-powered compact utility trucks falls somewhere between a golf cart and a small pickup, with impressive specs: a payload capacity of 2,000 pounds (1 ton | 900 kilograms) and a towing capacity of 3,000 pounds (1.5 tons | 1,350 kilograms) indicative of its automotive-grade components. The startup is drawing attention from public and private fleet owners alike, and that’s due in large part to their vehicles’ versatility. What makes a vehicle useful is its ability to adapt to a specific job, and vehicles that can be easily adapted to specific needs are going to deliver the best and most efficient experience.
Tropos ABLE™ applications include emergency services, facilities, utilities and agriculture, and end-to-end delivery. These vehicles aim to provide a complete solution for last-mile cargo delivery that is inherently more efficient. When these vehicles are lighter, it leaves more energy to move the objects that actually provide value: people and goods.
Given the potential, Panasonic and Tropos Technologies have teamed up to co-innovate the vehicle’s capabilities and features. Panasonic, a global automotive industry leader known for its pioneering energy and battery solutions and connectivity, turned 100 last year, and our history is marked by collaboration with innovators of all sizes. Our efforts range from co-development of products and solutions to capital investments to incubation.
Here’s what we’ve learned from years of co-innovation. First, don’t begin by looking for technology. Instead, start by looking at the problem you’re trying to solve. Once that is identified, ask “Why?” Then the solution will present itself when you put the teams together. This approach is highlighted through the Panasonic – Tropos collaboration, which is focused on electrification solutions to advance hyper-efficient electric compact utility vehicles to address almost any fleet need.
We’re also exploring working together to leverage the potential of connectivity. IoT Connectivity is important to any fleet operator, because they must aim to achieve the lowest possible total cost of ownership while meeting stringent environmental and safety regulations. Energy consumption, route management, driver performance and truck maintenance all impact the overall cost of ownership and advanced connectivity means the fleet manager can track things like location, battery life and key component longevity. This kind of IoT connectivity—with data that can be delivered to mobile devices—gives fleet owners visibility like never before and enable things like improved preventative maintenance and targeted operator training.