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Catecar, or how a Swiss Dragonfly captured my heart
Earlier this year, I don’t remember exactly where or when, I read an article about the Catecar, a “Swiss Green High-Tech Urban Vehicle”. A pretty long description for something that looks about as big as a Smart car. But what caught my eye immediately was the most assuredly Swiss design of the little vehicle, which, naturally, comes in red and white.
A *Swiss* company that produces a *green* urban high-tech vehicle? Well, it was news to me! Being naturally inquisitive, I contacted the company via Twitterand have been keeping a close eye on developments ever since. Yup, it’s safe to say that the Catecar is one of my very own personal favourites of the year.
But why is that? I sense that the success story of Catecar is about to be written and IMHO the project simply reeks of success!
The Catecar is already in the making. It is Swiss and the very epitome of innovation, dedication, determination and quality. Well, so much for the technical side of the Catecar cocktail, but what about the green angle? Catecar is basically a city car, an urban vehicle meant to take you short distances. It’s an itsy bitsy teeny weeny micro mini red dragonfly that buzzes you from A to B with minimum impact on the environment.
The Catecar concept car
The visionary behind the Catecar is Henri-Philippe Sambuc, an independent Swiss business lawyer from Geneva. Being a staunch supporter of alternative mobility and sustainable development, he started collaborating with the R&D departments of several Swiss start-ups in order to develop this innovative vehicle. The Catecar is an extremely light, lean, clean and economical hybrid car featuring a solar roof, a linen car body and ultra-modern motorisation comprising an electric drive and a petrol engine that serves as a range extender for greater autonomy.
Weighing barely 350 kg, the Catecar will do 100km to the litre at a cruising range of 400 – 500km. As the Catecar features a roof composed of solar panels, based on the statistical average sunshine exposure in Switzerland, it can provide a further 4,000km of autonomy per year. Estimations show that in Switzerland the average annual mileage is 12,000 km and thus around a third of the required autonomy is derived from the solar roof alone.
The business model also reflects a scrupulous concern for the environment. The aim is to produce and sell “locally”. In fact, customers will have the opportunity to order their vehicle online and then pick it up at the factory, thus helping Catecar to avoid keeping large stocks, while at the same time reducing transport and intermediary costs. Instead of relying on car dealers, Catecar will operate a network of independent garage owners to provide for the promotion and maintenance of its vehicles.
From conception to reality
The vehicle is currently being test-driven on tarmac at Cointrin Airport, Geneva. Airports are, in effect, the primary target as no approval is needed for this type of usage. The pre-marketing operations focusing on airports therefore kicked off successfully in spring this year. The Catecar was exhibited in some of the most renowned industry fairs such as Terminal Passenger Expo in Vienna, EBACE in Geneva and the Dubai Airport Show, where it had its own dedicated booth in the Swiss Pavilion – the perfect occasion to introduce the Catecar venture to over 120 companies and around 40 airports from more than 30 countries. Then, earlier in June, I received the fantastic news that the Catecar had been chosen as one of the 20 “Best of Breed” start-ups in the Smart Energy Systems sector by the jury and lead sponsors of INNOVENTURE EUROPE, a pan-European Forum of investors and innovative start-ups. There, the Catecar team will have the chance to pitch to a panel of potential investors.
And needless to say I’ll be there! So, on June 26th, our small committee will be leaving for Paris to lend our support to Maitre Sambuc and the technical specialists involved in the project during the pitch.
These are very exciting times for the Catecar! To support the project, you can do several things: share this article with your friends, talk about the Catecar to those around you or even become an investor yourself! You may also contact the Catecar company directly with any suggestions for support you may have: via contact form, Facebook or Twitter. Go Catecar!