Spanish scooter manufacturer Silence claims it has an answer for the busy city streets - a tiny, 2-seat-only electric nano car. It has been a while since we heard from Silence - the company started working on the S04 back in 2019, and took its sweet time to develop what essentially is a quadricycle. Is this really the future?
There is a lot of merit to the idea of small, 2-seat vehicles designed specifically for large cities. The majority of city journeys happen with only the driver in the car, the average daily commute is less than 31 miles, and with the parking spaces demanding serious premiums, a tiny little EV sounds like a way to go.
The Silence S04 has a few tricks up its tiny sleeves. Since it is a quadricycle, in many European countries it doesn’t require a driving license to be driven. The S04 comes in two versions - L7e with a top speed of 53 mph and L6e with a top speed limited to 28 mph. Both versions have a range of 93 miles, but the L7e comes with a 14 kW electric motor while L6e has to make do with 6 kW output.
The other very nifty trick hides under the passenger seats. Every S04 has two batteries, and both are swappable. Each battery hides under the seat on each side of the car - pop the door open, and slide the battery out. Tiny wheels spring out from the bottom, and a travel-style handle extends from the top, converting the battery into a suitcase-like box that’s easy to handle.
The idea behind the swappable batteries is that you are supposed to take them out of the car and into a public charging station, where you simply pop the empty battery in and take the full battery out. Take it back to the car, slide it in, and voila - you’re back on the road. The company forgot to mention that you shouldn’t drop the battery at any point onto your unsuspecting toes - at 90 lb, it can do some serious damage to your pedicure.
It sounds great, the solution looks neat, but hauling a 90 lb battery pack, whether it has wheels or not - is bound to end up with someone getting hurt. On the bright side though, each battery charges in about 30 minutes at a dedicated station or up to 9 hours from a domestic socket.
The slower L6e version has the potential to become very popular among teenagers, almost a Vespa moment for the Spanish company. The clever app that comes with the car lets the owner share the car without the need for keys, battery status can be checked remotely, and of course, the ever-important location is reported to the owner on demand.
The crunch moment is the price, even more so when it comes to a tiny vehicle like this one. Silence S04 L7e starts at $10,920, which is significantly more than the comparable Citroen Ami. It’s more than a Fiat Topolino, but Silence has an idea - a battery subscription. In exchange for a monthly - yet undisclosed - fee, you can save up to 40% on the purchase of your nanocar. Is the $6,554 electric quadricycle without a battery an answer to sustainable and emissions-free city commuting? Is the $10,920 version with the battery a better option? In the absence of much competition, Silence may have this niche market cornered.