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Kate is a new automaker focusing on microcars for everyday use • TechCrunch

Comply with Kate, a French company that wants to make a small car that you can use for your daily commute and various errands. In addition to CEO Matthias Goldenberg and CTO Pierre Escrieut, Kate is also co-founded by Thibaud Elzière, the serial entrepreneur behind Hexathe startup studio formerly known as eFounders.

Although Kate is a car manufacturer at heart, it does not want to produce large SUVs with high-end entertainment systems. The company wants to change mobility by producing an electric car that is as minimalistic as possible.

Instead of starting with the vehicle, Kate starts with the use case. “We want to sell this to people who really need a vehicle, people who live on the outskirts, in medium-sized cities or even in the countryside,” Kate CEO Matthias Goldenberg told me.

In Europe, people moving from A to B use a large vehicle, such as a regular car, for 84% of their journeys. It represents 11% of CO2 emissions. And yet 98% of trips are shorter than 80 kilometers (that’s 50 miles).

Therefore, there is no point in using a car with extremely comfortable seats and long-range batteries if you are just taking your child to school and then going to the office in the small town nearby. You can always rent a car for your next vacation.

But creating a new car manufacturer from scratch is not that easy. That’s why Kate isn’t exactly a “new company.” Thibaud Elzière invested in a French company called NO SMOKE that produces electric vehicles inspired by th Mini Moke.

Kate then immediately acquired NOSMOKE to reuse some of the company’s work on a new type of vehicle. Instead of making a leisure car that you would park next to your beach house, Kate wants to make a vehicle for the mass market.

This is what the Kate Original looks like:

The Kate Original. Image Credits: Kate

On paper, Kate’s upcoming vehicle, the K1, is going to be a L7e vehicle – a heavy four-wheeler. There will be four seats and it will reach a top speed of 90 km/h (56 mph). You can drive it in France with a B1 driving license, which you can get at the age of 16 or later.

“With the K1 we want to have a vehicle that sits right in the no-go zone between the Citroën Ami which costs €8,000 and the Renault Zoe which costs around €25,000 to €30,000,” said Goldenberg.

Kate is aiming for an entry-level price of around 15,000 euros with a battery range of 200 kilometers. Of course there will be models with better motors and batteries that cost more.

When it comes to design, Kate wants to make a car that is as modular and sustainable as possible. There will be some connectivity components so the company can identify issues remotely.

But the idea is that you should be able to keep your Kate K1 for years to come. There will be hardware and software updates, but the car should be usable for a long time, even if you don’t change a single part. For example, Kate has opted for LFP batteries (containing lithium, iron and phosphate), which offers a considerably longer lifespan.

The Kate K1. Image Credits: Kate

When it comes to the entertainment system, there will be some basic software functions in the car. You can play some music or get clues. But if you want better directions or if you want to listen to your own podcasts, you have to rely on your smartphone.

“The smartphone should be at the center of the experience, but you should also be able to drive when your battery is dead,” said Goldenberg.

Last year NOSMOKE/Kate produced nearly 200 vehicles. This year, the company is updating NOSMOKE’s car and calling it the Kate Original. “Our goal is to produce four times more vehicles every year. In 5 years, we will jump from 200 vehicles per year to 200 vehicles per day,” says Goldenberg.

Kate wants to introduce the K1 properly later this year and start selling in 2024. In other words, the company has ambitious goals and targets an unproven market. But given the success of the Citroën Ami in France with wealthy high school students in rural France, there could be an even greater opportunity with small adult cars.

The Kate Original. Image Credits: Kate

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