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Hyundai branches out from cars to build its own electric scooter

Hyundai is primarily known for building cars, but it also makes lots of other things, including trucks, buses, and even railcars. Now Hyundai is adding one more vehicle to its résumé: An electric scooter designed for short journeys.

The electric scooter is an evolution of a concept vehicle Hyundai unveiled at CES 2017. It has a range of 20 kilometers (12.4 miles), and a top speed of 20 kph. Engineers plan to add a regenerative braking system as well, according to Hyundai. Regenerative braking is used in hybrid and electric cars to harvest energy that would normally be dissipated as heat while braking. This could increase the scooter’s range by about 7%, Hyundai claims.

The scooter weighs about 7.7 kilograms (16.9 pounds), and folds three ways, so it should be pretty easy to stow in the trunk of a car or the corner of an office when not in use. The scooter also has a front LED light and two smaller rear lights for nighttime riding.

One of the major differences between the original 2017 concept scooter and the new version is a switch from front-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive. Car enthusiasts know that rear-wheel drive offers superior handling, but the change was all about safety, according to Hyundai. Rear-wheel drive shifts more weight rearward, enhancing stability, Hyundai claims. Engineers also added suspension to the front wheel for a smoother ride. Hyundai doesn’t sell any rear-wheel-drive cars in the United States, but its Genesis luxury brand has a lineup of rear-wheel-drive sedans, while Hyundai-owned Kia has the Stinger.

Hyundai said the scooter was designed for so-called “last-mile” transportation. For example, a person could park their car, unfold the scooter, and continue to their final destination. It may seem like a desperate attempt by lazy people to avoid walking, but last-mile transportation for both people and packages has become a major buzzword. Citing data from consultancy McKinsey & Company, Hyundai said the last-mile transportation market in the U.S., China, and Europe could be worth $500 billion by 2030.

Hyundai may take its time cashing in on that market, though. The current scooter is only a prototype, and Hyundai will not discuss a timeline for production. The company has plenty of four-wheeled-vehicle projects to occupy it, after all.

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