Radio host: "Well, my friends, I promised you more details about the latest development, presented in Minsk — this is the UNIMO 1.0 electric car. It became the prototype of the car of the future, I'm not afraid of this loud statement. It was originally designed for people with limited mobility. But, as the developers claim, it can also be used by people with no health issues. The director of "Universal Mobility" Alexander Sinkevich is on the phone with us. I assume, Alexander, that the main message and idea is already veiled in the name, right?"
Alexander Sinkevich: "UNIMO is an abbreviation of our company name — "Universal Mobility". After the prototype was assembled, we had to think about the name for quite a while. We had some interesting and really nice options. At that time serial production was not yet considered, and it was decided put aside the brand issue, because it is one of the most important elements of automotive marketing."
Radio host: "And what engineering solutions did the engineers use to adapt the car for people with limited mobility? What options is it equipped with, tell us more."
Aleksandr Sinkevich: "To begin with, when the idea was thought out and we had the design task before us, we began to implement the car around a person in a wheelchair. Saying that the wheelchair is the foundation of the entire design, the whole external superstructure in the form of a car had to be designed taking into account all the ergonomic features of the person in the wheelchair. It was necessary to provide maximum comfort for such a person through engineering solutions, and I believe we have succeeded. The target group also includes people with lower limb problems who have prostheses or certain functional limitations, including the elderly. A high level of comfort is provided for all of the above groups of people."
Radio host: "I understand that a wheelchair user can get into a car without leaving a chair and has virtually no obstacles doing that?"
Alexander Sinkevich: «A fundamental factor is a specially designed wheelchair that has all the features and characteristics of an ordinary car seat. The design of this wheelchair has the necessary structural strength to meet the setrification requirements of the car seat, whose function it performs by being fixed in a special lock.
In order to provide comfortable access to the controls for a person with a disability, the principle of autonomy is implemented, when the driver is able to board and disembark without any assistance. The car has a ramp lift in the rear side, which is operated via a wireless remote control."
Radio host: "Do I understand it right, that one of the strategic goals, in addition to a barrier-free environment, was the emphasis on green technology. Why the electric car?"
Alexander Sinkevich: "In the case of the first prototype, it's more of a tribute to fashion. The fact that the electric car is a "green" technology is a rather controversial statement, and could be a topic for a separate conversation. The second prototype, which is currently in production, is already the next generation machine, which incorporates new ideas and improves on the solutions implemented in the first model. The second car is a much more advanced solution, which we will introduce in the spring, once it is ready. From what I can announce right now, is the implementation of a universal carrier body, which will allow the installation of both a gasoline unit with automatic transmission or an electric drive with a battery."
Radio host: "These are prototypes so far. Will there be any mass production? Will this car be able to drive on public roads?"
Alexander Sinkevich: "I'll start with the second question. Even the first prototype underwent the necessary certification in the "United Institute of Mechanical Engineering of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus," where the vehicle design safety certificate was obtained, on the basis of which the car was registered in the traffic police, received a license plate and has been test-driven on public roads for more than a year. As for the possibility of mass production, it is a much more complicated subject than designing and building a prototype. Since mass production is a rather sophisticated process that involves large investments. We've been working on this throughout 2019, and we've progressed quite deeply in that direction as well. Unfortunately, the crisis of 2020 has seriously hampered our work by suspending many meetings and potential negotiations, freezing potential contacts."
Radio host: "Yes, the pandemic has thwarted everyone's plans."
Alexander Sinkevich: "However, not everything is unfortunate. Today, with the help of our partners and agents, we negotiate in different regions of the world. First and foremost, of course, it is Russia. We are working on Southeast Asia and the Middle East, the United States, and we maintain contact with potential interested investors and possible buyers of the project."
Radio host: "It's great if not only the Belarusian market will eventually open up for you, but also countries of near and distant lands. I understand that there is a possibility of buying a car, for example, by cab services?"
Alexander Sinkevich: "Of course. Here I should probably introduce you to the global scene. While working on our projects, developing a business plan, we certainly relied on analytical information. For example, based on an analytical review and forecast of the market of vehicles for people with disabilities up to 2027 by the British marketing agency Matkets & Markets, 10% of the world's population are people with disabilities of various types. 10% of this number of people with disabilities, i.e. 1% of the world's population, are wheelchair users. That's 70 million people! Even in the most conservative estimate — if we take just 1% of those seventy million, those who are able either on their own or with the help of insurance companies, various funds or banking services to purchase this car — that is a market of 700,000 potential buyers in the world.
It is clear that this is a product that should be available all over the world, due to the existing demand. In our business models, we are following one of the world's most promising sales systems by Tesla Motors, which is why we are implementing a symmetrical car design of the second-generation prototype, allowing for easy adaptation to left- and right-hand traffic conditions. Considering all the implemented solutions, the second car will be even more interesting than the first one."
Radio host: "Alexander, I still want to ask you so many things, but unfortunately the broadcast clock is catching up with us, I hope your initiative will continue, everything will work out, and in the foreseeable future not only on the roads of Belarus but also in other countries will ride electric cars with the inscription "Made in Belarus"."