Single-seat tiny EV for the modern city dweller

KG Motors Minimum Mobility EV
KG Motors Minimum Mobility EV is a compact, single-seat electric vehicle with a 100km (62 miles) range and a charge time of five hours. Images courtesy KG Motors

KG Motors, a Japanese startup, is poised to make waves in the automotive industry with its innovative and compact electric vehicle (EV), the Minimum Mobility model. This single-seat EV aims to cater to the growing demand for sustainable and efficient personal transportation in urban environments. With its unique design, affordability, and commitment to environmental sustainability, the Minimum Mobility vehicle has the potential to redefine urban mobility in Japan and beyond.

The vision behind Minimum Mobility

Founded by Kusunoki Kazunari, former owner of a parts supply company, KG Motors was born out of a desire to contribute to the global decarbonization trend by focusing on electric vehicles. Kusunoki’s vision for the Minimum Mobility vehicle is driven by data indicating that a significant portion of Japanese drivers commute alone. A government survey revealed that about 70% of car owners in Japan drive solo on weekdays, and 50% do the same on weekends. This insight led to the development of a vehicle specifically tailored for individual use.

Design and features

The Minimum Mobility EV stands out with its compact dimensions: 2.5 meters in length and 1 meter in width. Inspired by the design of Polaroid cameras from the 1980s, the vehicle boasts a symmetrical and retro look that appeals to modern tastes. The central placement of the single seat enhances the driving experience, while the minimalistic interior ensures that all controls are within easy reach of the driver.

One of the key advantages of the Minimum Mobility vehicle is its affordability. Priced at approximately 1 million yen (around $6,700), it offers an economical solution for urban commuters. The low cost is partly achieved by the vehicle’s simplified design, which requires fewer panel molds and uses manually operated windows. Despite its simplicity, the vehicle is equipped with essential features like air conditioning to ensure comfort in various weather conditions.

KG-Motors-Minimum-Mobility EV Kazunari Kusunoki Co-founder CEO
Kazunari Kusunoki, Co-founder and CEO of KG Motors, showcases the Minimum Mobility EV.

Performance and sustainability

The Minimum Mobility EV is not just about compact design and affordability; it also excels in environmental performance. Weighing less than traditional vehicles, it requires less energy to operate, thus contributing to reduced carbon emissions. The vehicle can be charged using a standard 100V AC household outlet, and a full charge provides a cruising range of 100 kilometers. The charging process takes about five hours, making it convenient for daily use.

In addition to its impressive environmental credentials, the Minimum Mobility vehicle benefits from Japan’s revised laws, which now allow single-seat EVs to operate on public roads. This regulatory change, coupled with the vehicle’s compliance with reduced inspection and tax requirements, makes it an attractive option for urban drivers looking for a sustainable and cost-effective mode of transportation.

KG Motors Minimum Mobility EV Single Seat
The Minimum Mobility EV features a centrally placed single seat, designed for optimal driving experience and maximizing space efficiency in a compact frame.

Challenges and collaborations

While the development of the Minimum Mobility vehicle has been steady, KG Motors faces challenges typical of automotive startups. Securing reliable suppliers for small-scale production of advanced EV components is one such hurdle. Ishida Haruo, Professor Emeritus at the University of Tsukuba, notes that while EVs have fewer parts than traditional vehicles, the required technology is highly advanced. This makes finding suppliers willing to produce parts in small lots a significant challenge for startups.

However, KG Motors has leveraged its geographical advantage by being based in Hiroshima, a region known for its automotive industry presence, including Mazda and its affiliates. This proximity to established automotive companies has facilitated collaborations and support, crucial for the startup’s growth and development.

KG Motors Minimum Mobility EV Team
Kazunari Kusunoki and the KG Motors team present their innovative yellow Minimum Mobility EV, with one member demonstrating its compact, single-seat design.

One notable partnership is with ENEOS, a leading energy company in Japan. In March 2024, KG Motors and ENEOS signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on sustainable mobility solutions using the Minimum Mobility EV. This collaboration aligns with ENEOS’s long-term vision of achieving a carbon-neutral society while ensuring a stable supply of energy and materials. Such partnerships are instrumental in advancing the development and commercialization of the Minimum Mobility vehicle.

Market reception and future plans

The Minimum Mobility concept was first introduced at the 2023 Tokyo Auto Salon, where it received an enthusiastic response with 5,800 pre-monitor registrations. The prototype, completed in January 2024, was unveiled to the media and other companies, generating further interest and anticipation.

KG Motors aims to begin mass production and sales of the Minimum Mobility vehicle in 2025. The startup’s approach to creating an exciting, eco-friendly, and affordable car has the potential to attract a broad customer base, particularly in urban areas where space and sustainability are paramount concerns.

KG Motors Minimum Mobility EV Japan Mobility Show 2023
The Minimum Mobility EV on display at the 2023 Japan Mobility Show.

Pricing and availability

As previously mentioned, the Minimum Mobility vehicle is expected to retail at around 1 million yen ($6,700). This competitive pricing, coupled with its low operating costs and minimal maintenance requirements, positions it as an accessible option for many consumers. While the car is not yet available for purchase, KG Motors is working diligently to bring it to market within the next year.

Conclusion

KG Motors’ Minimum Mobility EV represents a significant step forward in urban transportation, combining affordability, sustainability, and innovative design. With its upcoming mass production and strategic collaborations, this tiny car has the potential to make a big impact on the future of mobility. As cities around the world continue to grapple with congestion and pollution, the Minimum Mobility vehicle offers a promising solution that aligns with the growing demand for eco-friendly and efficient personal transportation.

Source: KG Motors