Spiri’s on-demand carpooling service will use custom EVs and let drivers ride free

Danish startup Spiri believes urban transportation is still massively inefficient, and it’s setting out to tackle the problem from a few different directions. First, it’s building an on-demand carpooling service, similar to the UberPOOL offering. Second, it’s going to use its own custom electric vehicles to do so. Finally, it’s using customers as drivers, in exchange for free rides. Service is currently set to begin in 2017.

Basically, that means the approach is a hybrid one that borrows aspects of what car sharing networks like car2go have done, with the on-demand taxi-style approach. The deal for drivers is that they can use Spiri’s fleet of cars free, provided they agree to pick up some passengers along the way and drop them off en-route to their destination. Passengers foot the cost of operation, paying what Spiri says will be costs in line with “public transport prices.” It’s working with Drivr, a dispatch and ridesharing platform provider, for the software side of the service.

Spiri’s most interesting aspect might be that it’s using its own cars. The vehicles are described as “ultra-light electric” ones. They’ll be multi-seaters, and the company claims 50 percent more energy efficiency as compared to the majority of electric cars on the road again, thanks to its use of lightweight materials. It’ll also boast “more legroom than a Mercedes S class limousine,” according to board member Peter Carlsson in a press release, who previously acted as Tesla’s VP of supply chain.

Exactly what said car will look like isn’t public, yet. When asked for further information, Spiri told me that the vehicle design “is all electric and bespoke built for city transport. This means it’s ultra lightweight. It’s sheds all excess car bling bling resulting in using only 25% parts of a normal car.” The entire thing has been designed in-house, Spiri says, as the startup “has been in stealth for more than year with engineers from Tesla, Aston Martin, BMW, DriveNow, Rimac and a lot more” working on the car.

Spiri tells me that hitting the roads with driver-controlled cars in 2017 is just step one, and step two will be putting self-driving Spiri prototype vehicles into testing later that same year.

The first glimpse of the car will be revealed at TechBBQ, a Danish tech conference happening September 20. Until then, people interested in signing up for the service can register today at Spiri.io. We’ll be sure to check out the final design of their vehicle, which based on the teaser does look interesting (panorama roof in a short-bodied frame?).