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Access offers an early look at its first electric car


Access, the Anglo-American startup that hopes to revolutionize the design and manufacture of electric cars, is ready to talk about its first car. The arrival car, as it is known, is designed first and foremost for use by motorists during their working day.

As much as the company doesn’t want to call it a taxi, this is in a sense the Arrival Car, an electric update to the black London cabin of the cities of the future. But with a number of modifications, that means it’s smaller and more efficient than current cars, but still has buckets of space inside.

The vehicle (Capital-C) has been harassed for a while, and in May, the access company announced that it had teamed up with Uber to create a “vehicle specifically designed for a taxi stand.” It’s a project with an ambitious deadline as well, with the first models expected to roll off the production line in the third quarter of 2023.

While visiting Oxfordshire headquarters in Arrival, I was able to look at and sit at the Alpha prototype, but the company is a little concerned about sharing a lot of the same images. That’s, in part, because it doesn’t feel like the first model, which was built in about six months, quite represents what’s to come. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of the car in all its glory, instead it was fitted with a mix of renderings and close-ups of the various components.

Access

Part of the reason the Access feels confident in being able to flip the car in such a short amount of time is that it gets on its shoulders so often. After all, the car uses the same compact EV ski platform that was developed for the truck and bus. This means that reach can, effectively, cut the sled to the appropriate size and place any cabin structure on top.

Arrival car deeply inept, a box on wheels with an emphasis on increasing the interior space for passengers. It has the same silhouette as the French-made minivan; You can easily imagine a line of these parked outside an under-15 football game on a Saturday morning. But, because it completely rejects the need to be aesthetic for the sake of aesthetics, it is too so cold.

And despite the sci-fi style, there is something completely human in its design, something completely organic. Since the thrust is on the ground, there is no need for a clear hood, so the windshield melts into the chassis. A convex glass roof extends over the cabin, making the interior space airy and spacious.

The biggest focus, of course, was on maximizing interior space and legroom, and I’ve seen more cramped visitor centers. Despite sitting (roughly) on the same footprint as the VW Golf, the car will likely have more legroom than the (famous) London Black Cab. The front passenger seat can also be folded down and pushed forward slightly, should you need extra space. The height also means you can easily climb into this car instead of awkwardly bending over, which helps people with mobility issues.

The only problem with this first version, which will likely change in the second prototype, is the luggage space. This first model has a fairly small luggage compartment, designed for two large bags, two small bags and a few other things. But Tom Elvege, executive vice president of Vehicle Platforms, believes changes will be made to improve this for the second prototype.

Present a Gamma car upon arrival

Access

Arrival’s custom software platform powers the system, and the car has a 13-inch Tesla Model 3-esque display mounted in the middle of the dashboard. This is good for the translation, since this will have to be available on both the left and right-hand drive models. But it also helps eliminate some of the clutter caused by sometimes blurry ride drivers.

Another driver-focused benefit is the fact that the car is designed to be comfortable but not stuffy. Of course, much of that is still in flux, but the prototype used brightly colored woven fabrics for the seat covers and something spill-resistant on the floor. Given the risks of passengers heating up the vehicle, and reducing the amount of time drivers can spend on the road, ease of cleaning is a major priority.

It’s early days, and Access still has the better part of two years to answer many of the key questions we have about this car. All the facts about battery capacity, range, speed and cost are left blank because the company, for now, is focusing on design build. We know there won’t be a speed limit for just getting around city streets, given that 10 percent of ride-sharing trips are to airports. And it should at least pass as a family hatchback when drivers aren’t working and want to use the car as their ride.

Close-up of the new arrival car model

Access

Of course, cost will be a big factor in helping drivers weed out their existing vehicles. Access believes that many of the innovations it has already developed will help it there, but there are no definitive numbers yet. Given the number of taxi fleets that have adopted Priuses (and other Toyota hybrids) to help squeeze a wider range of their fuel budgets, you can imagine this becoming a success.

What we do know is that the EV Access Platform provides an extraordinary driving experience and an extremely enjoyable experience to use. I was allowed to drive one of the test trucks around the company parking lot which is wild. This thing is a UPS big package pickup truck that operates with the ease and precision of a mini kart. I am sure many professional drivers will enjoy the feeling of connection to the road that this particular system provides.

Right now, Access is working on identifying items that don’t work from this first prototype, and refining them for a second prototype. There is a lot of work to be done between now and the end of 2023, however, we will wait and see how this eventually changes.

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