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Did you know that more than 100 million electric vehicles are already on the road in China? It’s true. But almost all of them are two-wheelers.
Three of the star vehicles at this year’s Paris Motor Show give the impression that major automakers believe that the streets of Europe and the United States could move in the same direction.
Electric scooters from Smart and Mini, as well as the E-Peugeot Vivacity—currently on display in Paris—are all aiming for the nascent electric scooter market, which Thomas Weber, Daimler’s management board member responsible for research and development, says will be “huge.”
The three models claim similar metrics: a driving range of about 60 miles, a recharge time of approximately four to five hours, and a top speed of about 30 miles per hour. This level of performance and range is well suited to traveling in a city.
The Lines Blur Between Small Cars and Two-Wheelers
“When our customers speak enthusiastically about their Smart they describe the perfect city car that is maneuverable, flexible, safe, spacious and fast and offers lots of driving fun, on the road and when looking for a parking space,” said Dr. Annette Winkler, head of Smart. She believes that a Smart electric scooter will answer the same needs—and that the fuel-efficient Smart ForTwo, the upcoming all-electric Smart Electric Drive minicar, and the Smart eScooter will form a continuum of green mobility options.
That’s similar to Mini’s approach. In fact, the drivetrain of Mini’s electric scooter is based on that of the Mini E: a single electric motor is integrated into the rear wheel hub, and power comes from a compact lithium ion battery stored under the seat. Peugeot’s scooter also features a battery management system, an on-board charger and a charging cable situated beneath the seat.
Expect more two-wheel concepts from automakers as they attempt to transfer the design, styling and technology of small electric cars to two-wheel scooters, funky mobility pods, and other alternatives.
It’s All About Connectivity
It’s easy to imagine hip, high-tech urban dwellers adopting wired electric scooters in Paris and Rome, but Americans have been slow to embrace scooters.
As with the next wave of super fuel-efficient small gas-powered cars, such as the Ford Fiesta and FIAT 500, manufacturers are trying to make scooters more attractive by adding high-tech features, such as smart phone capability. In fact, in the Mini eScooter, a smart phone acts as the ignition key and provides the connectivity for navigation applications. A Bluetooth-enabled helmet will allow drivers to make calls on the go. Given these distractions, it’s good that the Smart eScooter also features blind spot monitoring and an air bag for safety for protection in the event of frontal impact.
Many of these models are still in concept phase. The price tag for these feature-rich green electric scooters, not yet available, will ultimately decide if the future of electric transportation will come on two wheels as well as four.