Away from the bright lights and cherry reds of the main Frankfurt Motor Show attractions, in a secondary hall filled with startup companies and electric bicycles, a smaller vehicle design caught our eye as quickly and fully as the all-new shape-shifting Mercedes-Benz Concept IAA. It's the INU folding scooter, and it looks a little like some type of wheeled insect. Step inside those wings and you'll find a sleek electric commuter with a smartphone-controlled folding system and other high-tech features.
Israeli startup Green Ride revealed the INU scooter at this year's Consumer Electronics Show and are working to get it to market next year. Its name means dog in Japanese, and it's designed to be a loyal best friend in the city, getting you off your feet and rolling you to any destination within 25 miles (40 km).
The INU is designed to be a light, super-portable two-wheeler with a user-friendly design that keeps the rider moving forward comfortably. It splits the difference between full-sized sit-down scooter and stand-up kick-style scooter by putting both a foot platform and seat behind a curved stem reminiscent of the Cycon Circleboard. An automatic folding system compacts the 55-lb (25-kg) vessel down into trolley/carry form in 4.5 seconds. The telescopic lower frame beam slides forward into the front stem; the rear wheel folds next to the front wheel; and the seat post drops forward to create a tight, portable package.
The INU is positioned as a simple, license-free form of urban transport and its top speed can be adjusted to meet the regulations of the specific market. Its basic spec sheet includes 500- and 750-watt rear hub motor options and a 15.5 mph (25 km/h) top speed. The scooter takes about four seconds to go from standstill to top speed. It's powered by a front wheel-integrated lithium-ion battery that takes about three hours to fully charge from 0 percent.
The rider controls motor output via the onboard controller and views information on the cleanly integrated handlebar display. For more advanced, connected features like navigation, "Find my INU" security tracking and remote folding operation, INU offers an accompanying Android/IOS app. The central smartphone dock lets you easily use the app while on the scooter.
On board the aluminum-framed scooter, the rider enjoys the bump protection of a full-suspension design with an internal spring-based front suspension and a rear torsion bar. The model also includes front hydraulic disc brakes, a rear regenerative braking system, front and rear lights, a horn and an alarm.
INU models will retail between €3K and 5K (US$3,360 and 5,600) when they launch in 2016. We're not all that convinced that the world is yet itching to drop down thousands of dollars on limited-range electric folders, but individuals that are have the INU and a number of competitors – like the Scuddy and ElectricMood – to consider and compare.