Like many of its competitors, Volkswagen has for some time been looking at ways to diversify its business in a fast-changing market where traditional car ownership is expected to dwindle.
One area of growth is the personal transporter for zipping around cities. With this in mind, the German automaker has unveiled a couple of innovative and rather striking concepts: The Cityskater for last-mile travel, and the Streetmate, a medium-range electric scooter.
Set to be unveiled this week at the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland, the zero-emissions scooters are a stylish pair of transporters that look like a fun ride.
The sleeker and lighter Cityskater looks like a conventional scooter at first glance, but to ride on it you stand in the opposite direction from what you might think (see photos at the top of the page). This leaves you straddling the control rod, with the single wheel at your heels.
Another unusual feature is the double footboard, which enables accurate steering by intuitively shifting your weight from one leg to the other. The Cityskater’s control rod provides the necessary stability and is used to start, accelerate, and brake the transporter.
The 200-watt electric motor, located at the rear wheel, can push the Cityskater to speeds of up to 12 mph, and you’ll get a decent 9 miles out of the three-wheeler on a full charge.
Notable is the ability to fold up the 33-pound Cityskater to a height of just 33 centimeters, so you can easily hide it out of the way if you ride it from the station to work.
Volkswagen says its goal is to obtain approval for use of the Cityskater on cycle paths, suggesting the company is looking to commercialize the machine.
The 143-pound Streetmate packs a more powerful 1,300-watt motor and is an altogether chunkier, bulkier affair. But it can travel faster (28 mph) than the Cityskater, and has a longer range (21 miles), t00. Volkswagen says the range can be extended by switching to Eco mode, though it doesn’t say by how far.
You can drive the Streetmate sitting down or standing up (with the seat folded away), but take note, if the machine ever makes it to market, local laws may mean you’ll require a driver’s license and insurance. You might also have to wear a helmet when you hop aboard.
The Streetmate incorporates a 5.3-inch weather- and waterproof display located in the middle of the handlebars, which shows everything you’d expect: Speed, mileage, battery level, remaining range, and so on.
The display can also be connected to a smartphone to obtain navigation data, while the accompanying app functions as a digital key to start the scooter, and triggers an alarm if an unauthorized individual tries to start it.
“With mobile solutions such as Streetmate and Cityskater, visitors and residents in cities around the world will soon be able to leave their cars at home, opting instead for smaller zero-emission vehicles to get around,” Volkswagen said in a release. “Innovative vehicle concepts like these scooters have the potential to bring about a permanent change in future mobility habits.”
While the German automaker tinkers with concept designs, General Motors recently went ahead and launched its first ebikes as part of efforts to move beyond its traditional income stream.
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