Designed in Sweden and engineered in the UK, the Uniti One is a curious but potentially useful take on a versatile urban-focussed EV. Its flexible interior space and diminutive exterior dimensions define its looks, whilst its potential range of 186 miles, peppy performance and low price tag could see the One become a popular left-field choice for those on a budget.
Uniti started off as a project at Lund University in Sweden back in 2015 with the goal of better understanding the impact of modern cars on the environment and society. It soon became obvious that the team could implement its findings into a vehicle of its own and asked people to take a chance on it through a succession of crowd funding drives.
After an initial two-seat iteration, a subsequent three-seater was developed with the distinctly Swedish style that has made the One which will hit the roads early next year. Despite its Swedish roots, it is actually one of us, with all of the development, engineering and production taking place in Norfolk. The company's ultimate aim is to establish small production hubs in any new markets that they enter.
Energy efficiency is the name of the game for the Uniti One and thanks to its small size – 3222mm long and 1709mm wide – as well as liberal use of lightweight materials, the car weighs just 600kg. This means that Uniti has been able to get away a small motor producing just 67bhp, and a standard battery that stores just 12kWh. Whilst this provides an ample 93 miles of range, an optional 24kWh unit ups this to 186 miles, giving the One an energy efficiency of 8kWh/100km.
The power might be low, but as the weight is too, the One's performance isn't too shabby. No, you won't go head over heels with 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds and a top speed of 75mph, but with a low-speed sprint to 31mph of 4.1 seconds there'll be a few cars it will be able to make a move on.
Charging-wise, the small battery sizes means top-up times aren't so long. At a maximum input of 50kW through a CCS connection, the One can gain 62 miles of range in just ten minutes. The larger 24kWh battery can be charged from 20 per cent to 80 per cent in just over two hours using the on board 7kW fast charger or a speedy 17 minutes using 50kW. You can halve those times for the 12kWh battery.
The One's small dimensions put it in between the Smart ForTwo and ForFour in size, and perhaps logically given this fact, the One has three seats. These are set out in a way which gives the Uniti probably the only thing it has in common with a McLaren F1; the driver is the man (or woman) in the middle, with passengers sat either side just behind.
That central seating position, along with small overhangs and canopy-style windscreen give the driver an unrivalled view of the road which is great for city driving where it can feel like you're constantly under attack from larger vehicles. A panoramic roof, which can be controlled for brightness thanks to electromagnetism, adds to the airy feel.
Where the One gains in versatility points is in its flexible load space. With the rear seats up, the car has a fairly paltry 155 litres of luggage space, but with the seats folded flat this shoots up to 760 litres of space. With small businesses in cities clamouring for low emission zone-friendly delivery vehicles, the Uniti One might just hit the spot.
On the outside, the One isn't exactly conventional, but then EV design sometimes is, so the One probably fits in quite well to the new generation of urban-focussed EVs hitting the market. Perhaps our favourite feature of the cars exterior is the aero disc wheels which give it a bit of retro-futuristic look.
Small and cheap it may be, but the Uniti One doesn't scrimp on connectivity. It utilises the Android Automotive operating system which means it benefits from Google Maps, Waze, Spotify and other 'must-have' in-car apps via the Play Store – all without the need to have a dedicated or connected smartphone. However, you won't necessarily be able to do without a smartphone altogether; the Uniti is accessed and powered up via a smartphone-based app.
As well as the infotainment, interior lighting, ventilation, heating and cooling is controlled via a touch screen interface, or voice control. Even the rear-view mirror is digital and displays via the screen. And the on-board tech shouldn't go out-of-date any time soon, with over-the-air updates whenever new features and functions become available.
The One comes with a variety of systems that watch out for the occupants. ABS, Electronic Stability Control and Tyre Pressure Monitoring come as standard, whilst buyers can also specify an Advanced Driver Assistance Systems which includes Intel’s MobilEye 6 Collision Avoidance System. This is equipped with Forward Collision and Lane Departure Warning as well as a speed limit indicator, and can also detect and help drivers avoid cyclists and pedestrians.
When all is said and done, the Uniti One – offbeat as it might be in many ways – seems like outstanding value for the £15,100 it will set you back once the plug in car grant has been applied. As a bit of a sweetener to the deal, anyone who orders one and puts down a 50 per cent deposit before 30 November this year gets enrolled into the Founders Club.
Founders Club members will receive all future over the air software applications, updates and enhancements completely free of charge for life, and benefit from access to exclusive events, offers and services. Their Uniti One will also carry an individually-numbered Founder plaque, marking its significance in Uniti’s journey.
If you want to become a member of the Founders Club, are interested in buying a Uniti One in the future or simply want to play with the configurator, you can now do so via the company's website - uniti.earth. Deliveries to the UK and Sweden will start in mid-2020 with additional markets opening up in due course.