The Future of City Transport: Electric Scooters
The smart eScooter was first seen at the 2010 Paris Motor Show when other brands such as Mini and VW showcased their electric two-wheeler. Plug-in scooters seemed to be the vehicle of the future. But then the one-tracked revolution turned out to be only a PR gag.
According to Mini, an electric scooter is currently only interesting for research but not for production. When asked about their scooter programme, VW pointed out that it is an automotive maker and intends to remain exactly that. While these two brands scrapped their plans for electric two-wheelers, Mercedes-Benz announced that smart will launch the eScooter in 2014.
“The decision in favour of the eScooter has been made,” announced Dr. Joachim Schmidt, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Mercedes-Benz. “With this step, we are adding a further important component to our smart mobility concept for urban mobility in the future.”
The German car manufacturer is already offering the eBike and the smart fortwo electric drive. With the eScooter, smart is completing its environmentally friendly portfolio.
Smart seems to be ahead of other automotive makers that produce electric cars as it includes e-mobility where it makes the most sense: in small, light-weight vehicles for short travel distances in big cities. It is following the principle that Greenpeace has been preaching for years. “Electric cars as a continuation of conventional vehicles aren’t solving any problems. They are too expensive, they don’t relieve traffic jams and barely help to decrease CO2 emissions,” said Wolfgang Lohbeck, traffic expert at the international environmental organization.
Classic saloons, compacts or SUVs are too heavy for electric motors. In order to extend their electric range, they have to be equipped with big batteries. This in turn increases their weight and the need for even bigger batteries. Since batteries are the most expensive part in an electric vehicle, the weight problem creates a vicious circle.
Compared to that, electric scooter are lighter and far cheaper to produce which makes them more interesting for customers. In China, for example, there are only a few thousand electric cars on the street besides heavy funding from the government. But there are more than 120 million electric scooters cruising through busy city centres.
Technical details are yet to be announced for the smart eScooter. But if it follows the prototype that was exhibited at the 2010 Paris Motor Show it will have a range of around 100 km and a top speed of 45 km/h – both adequate for city traveling.