According to the US Department of Energy, about 60% of vehicle trips are less than six miles. Three-fourths of all trips are ten miles or less. Between hefty insurance premiums, the rising cost of gas, and record car prices, owning a personal vehicle is a less attractive option than ever. And that’s not even considering the hassle of Miami’s less-than-ideal traffic and parking situation.
Luckily, these days there are a host of micromobility options – from apps that let you rent e-scooters by the minute to long-range e-bikes that can take you hundreds of miles.
However, Miami-based SunVessel’s micromobility solution stands out from the crowd for a few reasons. Top of the list? Design.
SunVessel’s founder and CEO Sebastian Gomez Puerto explained to Refresh Miami that design was of utmost importance when conceptualizing their product. Early on, SunVessel enlisted the support of Italian design firm Pininfarina, which has worked with some of the biggest names in the world of luxury mobility including Ferrari, Maserati, and Alfa Romeo.
“We are the first startup to work with Pininfarina, and we consider that to be a great honor,” said Gomez Puerto. “Their design language really spoke to us.”
It was in conversations with Pininfarina that SunVessel determined that the device used to charge the vehicle was as important to consider as the vehicle itself. SunVessel’s main product, the Lunaport Collection, consists not only of a two-wheeled light electric vehicle, but also what they call a “smart dock.”’ The dock is closer to a piece of furniture than a black piece of wire hanging from a charging socket. Lunaport is “something that people should be proud to have inside their living room or inside their homes,” said Gomez Puerto.
The vehicle has a 13.7 mile range on a full charge, and hits a max speed of 10 miles per hour. While most people go handless and balance on the two wheels, the company also offers expandable handlebars, which Gomez Puerto said makes longer journeys a bit more comfortable.
The handlebars also make for a safer ride. “We ran a pilot program with zero accidents and hundreds of users,” Gomez Puerto asserted, noting that they provide a helmet with every purchase.
While the company officially kicked off in 2019, Gomez Puerto has been brainstorming about innovative mobility alternatives for the better part of the last decade. After a stint at Ford, he swapped the corporate world for the startup space by studying for an MBA in entrepreneurship at Babson College.
After Babson, Gomez Puerto moved to San Francisco and launched Cafe X, a robotic coffee system. While working on Cafe X, he would move around the city by bike. But one day, Gomez Puerto’s bike was stolen. “I was frustrated, I was mad, I was sad. And I said, ‘imagine if there was this pod that you can stand on that could take you from point A to point B.’” From there, the idea of SunVessel was born.
Next up for SunVessel is commercializing the product. The startup is pursuing both a B2C and B2B strategy. Gomez Puerto hopes to install vehicles in residential rental properties around Miami. He also plans to sell devices directly to customers in a handful of zip codes in Miami, but is keeping it selective for now because the team would like to visit each customer’s home and install the device for them. Prices start at $1,800 for one vehicle and smart dock, with payment plans available.
SunVessel currently has six employees and has recently opened a seed round. Gomez Puerto said that these funds will help the company get their product into consumers’ homes.
Photo at top of post: Sebastian Gomez Puerto, CEO of SunVessel, at right, is with David Fast, SunVessel’s Director of User Experience and Interface. Photos provided by SunVessel.
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