Bako B1

The saying ‘good things come in small packages’ often seems like a comforting way of accepting less and not feeling resentful. However, this perception changes when you meet the Bako B1, an incredibly compact van with ambitious aims to improve urban life.

Bako Motors, a relatively new startup from Tunisia, is betting on electric vehicles. Backed by investors from Europe, including Luxembourg, France and Germany, the company made waves at the 2021 IAA Mobility Show (formerly the Munich Motor Show) when it unveiled the Sunny Concept, a solar-electric trike designed to transport goods.

Unlike many automotive concepts that have made headlines and garnered public support, Sunny has been able to move beyond the conceptual or virtual development stage.

The Sunny has evolved into a production model known as the B1. While the name may not be as striking or memorable, the vehicle itself still stands out. That’s because it’s not just an electric vehicle, it’s an EV that uses solar energy to extend its range per charge.

Bako B1

The Bako B1 is available in two versions, the B10 and the B15. The main difference between them is their battery capacity and therefore their estimated range per charge. The B10 is said to have a range of 100 km (62 miles), while the B15 is said to have a range of 150 km (93 miles) on a single charge. Unfortunately, Bako has not clarified whether these estimates include the contribution of the roof-mounted solar panels.

It’s worth noting that while proposals for solar electric vehicles are common in the EV market, it’s rare to see them translated into efficient vehicles for everyday use. This is either because there is not enough sunlight to generate the required energy, or the energy demand exceeds what the panels can produce even with optimal sunlight.

The Bako B1 chooses a hybrid model, likely because it includes a lithium battery that can be fully charged in 3 hours. This battery powers a 3,000-watt motor that generates 95 newton meters of torque. This is sufficient to carry a total payload of up to 300 kilograms (661 pounds) at speeds up to 45 kilometers per hour.

Although this may not compare to the performance of a traditional electric passenger car, it’s worth remembering that the B1 is not a passenger vehicle. Instead, it’s a delivery solution designed for use by delivery companies, particularly for first and last-mile deliveries.

The idea behind the B1 is simple: replace larger and more polluting vehicles with a fleet of these smaller, more efficient vehicles. This allows them to navigate congested city streets and areas with strict emissions controls, such as those found in many European cities. Although the B1 may not be the fastest or most powerful vehicle, it doesn’t need to be for its intended purpose.

The B1, measuring 3.46 meters (11.4 feet) in length, 1.76 meters (5.8 feet) in width, and 1.85 meters (6.1 feet) in height, has a cargo box with a capacity of 86 cubic feet. Depending on the climate, the driver’s cab can be enclosed or open. The back hatch can also be adjusted to fully or partially open. The cab, designed for two people sitting side by side, has a simple yet functional dashboard.

Bako Motors’ B1 follows a similar approach to other electric vehicle startups. It is delivered as a basic electric vehicle with features typically found in non-electric cars available as optional upgrades, such as air conditioning, entertainment system, GPS, and reverse camera.

If the Bako B1’s design resembles a tuk-tuk, which is a common mode of transportation in Bako Motors’ home country, you are on the right track. The B1, however, stands out as it is powered by electricity and has an enclosed rear that is equipped with solar panels. Another notable difference is that it is classified as an L2 trike in the EU, which eliminates the need for a special driver’s license and simplifies matters for fleet owners.

The starting price of the Bacon B1 is 12,000 H.T. DT, which is roughly equivalent to $3,837 based on current exchange rates.

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