5G technology has played a key role in bringing an affordable electric vehicle to life - and on a modest manufacturing budget, quite achievable by any New Zealand company that wanted to go down the same route.
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And we do need cheaper models of EVs to go mainstream, given that today's "affordable" models really aren't that affordable at all.
The new Nissan Leaf costs $60,000. The pure-electric version of Hyundai's Ioniq will set you back the same amount and Tesla's Model 3 costs from $74,000.
The eGo Life, from German start-up eGO mobile, costs from just €15,900 ($27,670). And with subsidies available to locals, it's just €11,900.
The eGo Life isn't a looker in most people's books. Its range is a modest 100km on a charge (less than a quarter as far as the competitors name-checked above), its top speed is 100km/h and it needs an overnight charger (there's no fast-charger option). It takes 7.7 seconds to get from 0 to 100km/h, and while it's billed as four-seater, you would need a couple of teeny-tiny kids in the back to achieve that in real life.
A €19,900 model with a larger battery increases the range to 145km, the top speed to 142km/h and acceleration to 100km/h to a bracing 3.4 seconds - though with the bigger battery setup hogging more space, it also drops the maximum payload from 450kg to 390kg.
The lithium-ion battery setup is guaranteed for eight years (the standard has six lithium-ion batteries, which weigh a combined 90kg).
eGo won't say what it will cost to replace the batteries (an annoying stance it has in common with Tesla).
But a tour guide who took the Herald around eGo's plant in Aachen, near the border with the Netherlands, said the battery accounted for somewhere between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of the vehicle's cost.
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Overall, the eGo Life looks like a pretty attractive option for those seeking an urban runabout.
eGo also has an electric Go Kart which sells for €3990 and looks like a heck of a lot of fun - guaranteed to give the anti-Lime scooter crowd several heart attacks - plus a small shuttle bus, the Mover, due to go into production next year. That will be in direct competition to the electric people mover in the works from Kiwi-Chinese outfit Ohmio ).
Production started on the Life in May, and eGo says it has more than 3000 orders.
How can a car be made so cheaply?
eGO was founded by Günther Schuh, an engineering professor at nearby RWTH Aachen University. It sprang from his academic research, but is now fully-financed by private investors.
Where car makers usually design a new model, then ask engineers to create an assembly line to build it, Schuh turned this process on its head. He sought to create the cheapest possible process to build a car, then designed a car to fit that process.
A key element of his approach is to build and design as little as possible in-house. The eGO Life's 48v powertrain was developed by Bosch, for example, and its headlights are from Hella.
Simplicity of design is another part of the story. A Life is made from about 300 parts, compared to a typical car's 3000 or so.
And a wire-free production line is also central to Schuh's approach. Instead, 5G is used - in conjunction with radio frequency ID tags and QR codes to track components and co-ordinate production.
An electric screwdriver, for example, is connected to the 5G network and records how much force is used to fasten every bolt - information which is then relayed to an app used for after-sales servicing.
eGO's 5G partner, Vodafone, has a public 5G network in Germany. The carmaker's plant has a small 5G cellsite, plus a series of special sim cards for security, and only those within the factory (or selected partners) can access its network.
Mobile networks are used to track the performance of eGO's, and their components, once each vehicle is on the road, too.
The e.Go Aachen plant started its life with everything connected by wi-fi, so why was there any need to move to 5G?
"Before e.GO switched to their own 5G campus network they had to use wi-fi," says Vodafone Germany's Dirk Ellenbeck.
"But 5G is much more secure, stable and easier to set up. That is because wi-fi runs on unlicensed spectrum which is much more vulnerable to disruptions and there is also a much higher loss of data packages with wi-fi than with 5G."
5G also offers lower-latency (or lag), bringing it down to a just milliseconds with two-way connections - a nearly imperceptible difference from cable (unlike 4G or wi-fi).
Thanks to outsourcing components and using 5G, eGO's Aachen plant (which employs a modest 200 or so staff) was built for just €35m - chump change in automotive terms. The top-tier carmakers typically spend about €1 billion on a new plant - albeit with the ability to churn out hundreds of thousands of vehicles a year to eGO's 20,000 or so.
eGO is Vodafone's first live 5G industrial deal, though the telco says it has others in the works.
Vodafone NZ technology director Tony Baird says one is with a major operator of oil rigs, which will move to a 5G network that will be used as a single system for everything from communications to tracking logistics and operations - replacing the current stew of technologies including wi-fi, cable, and two-way radios.
• Chris Keall travelled to Germany courtesy of Vodafone.