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Mini and Smart show electric scooters

Two wheels good: Both the Smart E-scooter (pictured) and Mini Scooter E Concept take design cues from their four-wheel counterparts.

German giants take to two wheels for the future of urban mobility

Mini logo27 Sep 2010

By MATHIEU RAUDONIKIS

BMW and Mercedes Benz – through their niche small car brands Mini and Smart – have each unveiled electric scooter concepts in time for the Paris motor show starting on Thursday.

Germany’s two biggest luxury car manufacturers already have plug-in electric cars available in Europe, but are now spruiking two-wheel visions for the future of urban mobility.

Both the Smart E-scooter and Mini Scooter E Concept take design cues from their four-wheel counterparts.

39 center imageLeft: Mini Scooter E Concept. Below: Smart E-scooter.

BMW Group Design senior vice-president Adrian van Hooydonk said a retro scooter would be a perfect extension of its brand.

“The Mini Scooter E Concept is true to our brand values of distinctive design, intelligent functionality and customisation, and builds further on these characteristics by combining driving pleasure with sustainable technology into the first two-wheel concept of its kind for Mini,” he said.

Mr van Hooydonk said the scooter takes many design elements from the modern Mini car to ensure connection to the brand, such as the large Mini Countryman-style headlight, chrome-rimmed front indicators and dual square rear indicators.

The scooter’s large round speedometer is also familiar, but on the scooter it houses a port for an iPhone that acts as the scooter’s start key, audio, navigation and communications systems. The phone also links wirelessly via Bluetooth to specially equipped helmets for audio and phone use.

As with its cars, Mini plans a huge range of accessories to allow buyers to customise their scooters. The bulbous Mini-like mirrors can be optioned in various colours and designs just like the car, and the bodywork and seat trims can be mixed and matched to create different styles.

The Mini Scooter E Concept was previewed in three guises, two at the Paris show and one at the London Design Festival (with Union Jack and RAF insignias).

The two Paris versions represent a classic single-seater in British Racing Green with a weathered tan leather seat, and a two-seater using the colour scheme of the current Mini E hatch prototype, with matt charcoal paint, a yellow seat and mirrors.

Mini revealed only that its scooter uses a wheel-hub electric motor and lithium-ion battery, but Smart was more forthcoming with technical details, revealing that its E-scooter is powered by a 4kW brushless, direct-current motor in the hub of the 13-inch rear wheel.

Power is supplied by a 48-volt lithium-ion battery pack with an 80Ah capacity to give a range of up to 100 kilometres. The battery pack can be charged at any standard power outlet in three to five hours and also charges on the run via solar cells integrated into the front panels.

The Smart E-scooter has a top speed of 45km/h, allowing it to be ridden by younger riders on a special scooter licence available in many European countries.

The sportier-looking Smart has plastic panels that are easily replaceable with those of different colours, LED front and rear lights, and foot-boards with LED lighting to make it more visible to other motorists from the side.

Other safety systems unique to the E-scooter include ABS brakes adapted for a two-wheeler, an airbag integrated in the panel beneath the handlebars, and Blind Spot Assist, which draws the rider’s attention to vehicles not visible in the rear-view mirrors.

Like the Mini, the Smart scooter has a jack to integrate an iPhone for navigation, security and audio systems.

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