In a world premiere at Formnext 2022, nFrontier, the Berlin-based innovation studio and venture builder, unveiled UILA, a revolutionary vehicle and brand concept. As an industry first, the fully functioning prototype is a hybrid between an electric cargo bike and a small Electrical Vehicle (EV). Extensively leveraging 3D printing, UILA was presented in cooperation with nFrontier industry partner Stratasys Ltd, a leader in polymer 3D printing solutions, and is a showcase for integrating disruptive technologies into a sustainable mobility solution. Setting new standards in customization made possible by additive manufacturing (AM), market-ready UILA provides a cutting-edge solution for last-mile connectivity.
With a chainless electrical drive train, the vehicle effortlessly accelerates to top speeds of 25 km/hr and has a range of 60-70 km. The four-wheeled two-seater also provides a cargo payload of up to 250 kg. With a length of 230 cm, the vehicle is only 170 cm high and 90 cm wide, weighing a total of 70 kg. With renowned engineering and manufacturing partners on board, nFrontier is preparing UILA for serial production and traffic registration in Germany some time in 2024.
“UILA is our response to some of the most pressing challenges of our time such as climate change and the current energy crisis. UILA is not only radically changing the way we are commuting, but also provides a truly sustainable, game-changing mobility solution. At the same time, it delivers a feature set of digital functions and assets by far exceeding current bicycle industry standards,” says nFrontier CEO Daniel Buening, adding: “We are proud to unveil UILA together with our partner Stratasys. Their technologies have been at the core of our prototype development and will be a key part of our production process.“
Current studies suggest that by 2040 there will be more than 750 million electric two- and three- wheelers on the road globally. Ultimately, the market for vehicles such as UILA is unlimited: Due to its dimensions and pedal-operated drive train it is technically a bike, so there is no need for a driver’s license, allowing users to drive it on bike lanes. Contrary to cargo bikes, UILA features additional comfort usually only offered in small EVs: a modern infotainment system, including BYOD (smartphone) functionalities that will connect the internal display solutions. With the help of the UILA App, users will be able call the parked vehicle so it will drive autonomously towards you (‘Come to me Mode‘) or follow you without driver (‘Follow me Mode‘).
UILA is an example of how 3D printing is transforming not only the product development process but also production. Using Stratasys FDM® technology to 3D print large format body components significantly reduced the cost of producing those same parts using traditional manufacturing, such as injection molding, while also saving time because parts could easily be produced in-house at nFrontier. In addition, the nFrontier team has designed UILA to also use 3D-printed parts in the production process by leveraging higher volume additive manufacturing technologies such as powder-based SAFTM or photopolymer-based P3TM systems. This reduces costs and improves sustainability by printing fewer components with less material and doing so locally – in the markets where the UILA vehicles are sold – reducing supply chain challenges and transportation emissions.
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