A UNIQUE EVOLUTION XYT’s new approach to mobility offers personalization and easy upgrades
XYT, originally founded in 2007 as France Craft, builds light modular vehicles that consist of only 600 parts, versus the typical 6,000 to 10,000. Using a modular design approach, the vehicles can be personalized and upgraded simply by replacing the modular components. Compass spoke to Simon Mencarelli, CEO and co-founder of XYT, about what makes the startup and its vehicles unique, and what they may indicate about the automotive market’s future.
COMPASS: How did XYT start?
SIMON MENCARELLI: It began with a goal of making cars more cost effective to repair and maintain over the long run. Marc Chevreau, the founder of France Craft and co-founder of XYT, had owned body shops. As an engineer, he was always transforming cars and working on them. He faced the evolution of cars, which were becoming more difficult to repair. He had in mind a modular approach that would simplify the car to where you repair them with a simple toolbox.
What does XYT offer that traditional car manufacturers don’t?
SM: We want to give the consumer the ability to upgrade the car. The design has been thought out in ways where you can remove some parts and add new ones without damaging the car. Since a car is often linked to your status, we want it to be close to your identity. As with shoes or clothes, we want to personalize the automobile.
SM: It is important to make the right fit between the mobility needs of our customers and what we can provide. We want to make sure we bring the right experience for the right clients and customers. Currently our vehicles can go 100 kilometers (62 miles) in one charge and have a maximum speed of 100 km/hour (62 miles/hour). So, our cars would likely not be a good solution for a traveling salesman.
How much is the consumer involved in the design of their car?
SM: We say that with our vehicles, you can really design it as you like. That’s also part of the value: to open up our business platform through mobility development kits. If consumers want to build their own seats, they can have a maker’s kit and create their own material for those seats. This approach enables us to sell licenses and services to manufacturers, designers and makers for developing new variants and accessories. Our designer is also a street artist who is really famous in the graffiti scene. We want unique designs for our cars, which might be done by him or some of his colleagues, who have different styles.
Would such a high level of personalization increase the longevity of the vehicle?
SM: That’s part of our model – the sustainable part. You can make it your own and change it over time. We will have succeeded if people keep their vehicles longer. Therefore, our revenue streams would move from the production mode to maintenance and the upgrade options.
How long does it take to build a car?
SM: We are able to assemble the car without robots and heavy equipment. It takes about 35 hours to create the car, including the chassis work and welding the steel. For assembly, it takes 27 hours for a single person.
When the owner finishes their order, the system will tell them the car will be assembled two blocks from their place, on a certain date, and perhaps they will attend the final assembly.
XYT’s business model relies heavily on partners to expand its sales reach. Can you touch on your various revenue channels?
SM: Right now we are selling cars, but tomorrow we’d like to move to an expanded business model that generates additional revenue. We see ourselves as a marketplace similar in concept to the smartphone industry, where we create a tech-ecosystem enabling third parties to design and contribute to new accessory designs based upon our vehicle platform.
This creates different experiences not only for the drivers, but for the contributors who can participate as a craftsman or mobile workshop. And, going forward, we also envision advertising and service offerings that enable further participation and revenue opportunity.
Your initial focus is on France, but do you have a geographic rollout plan to build up your orders?
SM: Our approach is a city-by-city approach rather than country-by-country, and we will pick the sites. We have a lot of interest from abroad, with more than 40 contacts registered on our website. We have contacts in Vietnam, Cambodia and China. And in the US, we’ve been to Los Angeles and San Francisco.
New mobility solutions are often focused on urban living, and the suburbs are ignored. But XYT seems to be doing the opposite.
SM: When you live in a downtown area, you don’t really need a car. You have the Metro or the bus. The people in the suburbs need to commute.
How do you envision the future mobility landscape?
SM: There won’t be boundaries but a continuum of solutions. I don’t believe in just car sharing and people not owning cars anymore. To me, it will be a hybrid of some sort that accommodates personalization and added services. ◆Back to top