It’s not every day that we hear of a new automotive startup. Automotive accessories, parts, innovations, sure, but a full-blown tyres-to-top, bumper-to-bumper creation? Not so much.
But in less than three months since announcing the acquisition of another French EV specialist, one that’s built upon the legacy of the Mini Moke, a lesser-known cousin to the iconic British Motor Corporation builds, the Mini, Kei-car inspired auto builder Kate announces today that it’s secured €7 million in a seed funding round.
In an interview with Kate CEO and co-founder Matthias Goldenberg, he revealed that the €7 million will be used to accelerate R&D activities around the company’s upcoming K1 vehicle, as well as begging the development of the assembly line process.
With every automaker under the sun making their own play in the hybrid and/or all-electric four-wheeled mode of transportation sector, does the world really need another player? According to Goldenberg, most certainly yes.
“We have a lot of electric cars on the roads already, but the new thing is to reduce the size of the car. When you see the figures of usage of cars, you see that 98% of journeys are under 80 kilometres. And this generates 11% of CO2 emissions,” explained Goldenberg. “Right now, the car is becoming less efficient, more expensive, larger, heavier. That’s crazy.”
And while in 2021, SUV sales accounted for 48% of the passenger car market in China, Goldenberg is betting the future of Kate on the shift from a bigger is better mentality will occur through necessity.
“This shift will occur because of the price of the car. Today, if we would like an electric car, it’s €40,000 or €50,000. It’s very expensive and it's just impossible for all people to buy this.”
Kate’s coup de grâce lies in the fact that its four-person, four-wheeled, 450kg K1 will debut at a price of just €15,000.
To put that into perspective, adjusted for inflation, one of the most iconic people carriers of all time, the VW Beetle would cost in today’s money, €14,664, weigh 200kg more than the K1, and be powered by dead dinosaurs that have to be extracted from the ground and produce CO2 emissions whilst in use.
The company is now taking orders for its Original model, a completely revamped version of the NoSmoke, a model which while offering owners the same ear-to-ear smile the vehicle has been capable of since 1959, Goldenberg admits that the vehicle is functioning as a testbed, or MVP, for the under-development flagship model the K1.
Alongside real-world R&D testing and research within the Original, sales of the company’s first offer are also being used to partially fund the continued development of the K1.
All in all, Goldenberg and Co remain incredibly optimistic about what they’re working on, “With its modern design and exceptional performance, the K1 is destined to become one of the most iconic cars of our time.” And if the Beetle drew the map, the K1 appears to already be plotting its course.
During our podcast/audio interview, I received a personal invitation to travel to Paris for the unveiling (and potentially a head-to-head race with the co-founders) and will report back in the coming month as to whether Kate’s K1 really is made of The Right Stuff.
Bonus material: If you haven't heard enough from Kate yet, of course, the brand has its own Spotify channel that's packed full of tunes that I can only imagine pair perfectly with an open-topped Original, a sunset, and an endless summer.