Shape-shifting electric scooters are nothing new, but the eFoldi covers some unexpected bases. The brainchild of London-based father-daughter team Jianmin and SumiWang, the eFoldi electric scooter transforms into a practical chair or a suitcase-sized unit for transport in planes, trains and automobiles.
The inspiration for eFoldi came about when Jianmin was suffered a broken leg. The experience made him think there could be an easier way to get about, so he called on his background as chief engineer with China's National Acrobatic Troupe to create a folding-mechanism for the e-scooter.
As an electric scooter, eFoldi can move at different speeds – up to 4 mph (6 km/h) for when it's used as a mobility aid and 12.5 mph (20 km/h) for recreational use.
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When not in use, it can be folded into a carry-on suitcase-sized package and wheeled along or stowed away. It can also be folded into a seat for those long waits at busy airports and stations.
A frame made of combination of aluminum and steel results in a weight of only 19 kg (42 lb). It's also sturdy, with the makers claiming that during tests it has carry over 150 kg (330 lb) without wobbling – though they recommend a maximum load of 100 kg (220 lb). In other words, it can transport most adults. The wheels are large to ensure a more comfortable ride.
The scooter will be offered with two battery types. For regular travelers, a better option may be the 1.1 kg (2.5 lb) AirSafe battery pack (24 V, 4 Ah), which is allowed on-board by most airlines. During tests it averaged 6 to 10 km (3.7 to 6.2 miles) on a full charge, which takes about 1.5 hours. The larger FarReach battery (24 V, 12Ah) weighs 2.7 kg (5.9 lb) and can cover 20-30 km (12 to 18 miles) on a full charge, depending on the weight of the user, road surface and gradient. Charging for the FarReach takes about 4.5 hours.
The design also includes USB charging ports, so it can also be used as a giant portable charger.
eFoldi is already gaining recognition for its versatile, collapsible design. Earlier this month it won the British Inventors Project at the Gadget Show Live exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham. Prior to that it had won the gold medal at the 2015 Beijing Invention Competition and the Grand Prize at the 2015 Surrey Entrepreneur UK Academy.
In order to bring eFoldi to market, the company has launched a Kickstarter campaign. Pledges for the lighter unit start at £699 (approx. US$1,000). The campaign is over halfway to its £90,000 goal at the time of writing and if all goes to plan, shipping is expected to begin in October. For road use, eFoldi has been designed as a type 3 scooter in the UK. Supporters from other countries are advised to check out local legislation.
The video below illustrates how the eFoldi works.