Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Smart and Mini Unveil Electric Concept Scooters

The era of the electric car is supposedly just around the corner. But a new trend will be grabbing attention at the Paris Motor Show: the e-scooter. Both Daimler and BMW will be showing concept scooters that are not only design pieces, but also include advanced technology never seen before in two-wheelers.

If one didn't know any better, one could almost believe the sight before their eyes was the result of a successful cooperation between archrivals Dieter Zetsche, head of Daimler, and Norbert Reithofer, the boss at BMW. The shared traits in products being exhibited by the German competitors at the Paris Motor Show, which opens next week, are astounding.

The new Mercedes CLS and BMW's 6 Series models for example, are conceptually very similar. And even more curious: The two companies' small car brands -- Daimler's Smart and BMW's Mini -- are each planning to introduce electric scooters. In the hunt for new revenue channels, young customers and plausible ideas for electric mobility, both have apparently come to the same conclusion: It's time to produce a new generation of scooters.

The technology behind scooters is relatively simple, so Smart and Mini are both focusing largely on design. "We have built many of the features of our automobile lines into the scooters," said Mini's chief designer Gerd Hildebrand. Currently, three different models are being created under his tutelage -- an anglophile version for modern-day mods, an Ego model for snobs and an eco-version with the same color scheme as the Mini E electric car.

"They all share the same organic form -- they all have the small wheels that protrude outwards and ball-shaped headlights that people know from the Mini," Hildebrand said, describing what the four-wheel Mini and its two-wheel counterpart have in common.

The scooter also features the same turn-signal and light switch used in the car, an oversized speedometer and a charging plug that can be pulled out of the scooter's body, in a similar fashion to the power cord on a vacuum cleaner. The scooter also has a number of small storage compartments for sunglasses, mobile phones and other accessories.

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Photo gallery of electric design scooters:

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