If you need to cut across town, sliding behind the wheel of your car is not always the most practical or quickest way to get from train station to office, office to gym, or gym to juice bar. While public transport serves most inner cities well, the thought of zipping quietly and effortlessly through the thronging masses is one that has great appeal. If you can just collapse your vehicle down to a fraction of its size at the end of your journey, all the better. Such is the case with a soon-to-be-released three-wheeled, stand-and-ride electric scooter named MUVe, which transforms into a suitcase-sized trolley between rides.
Israel's Amir Zaid, who has worked in the design studios of automotive giants Fiat and Ferrari in the past, began working on the My Urban Vehicle project in early 2012, along with co-founder Benny Shimon. The idea was to create a lightweight, folding e-scooter for the short commute between train and bus stations – or multi-story city car parks – and the office. Six short months later, the first working MUVe prototype was ready to roll.
Rather than ride standing side on, with one foot behind the other, MUVe users will be able to travel Segway-style, with feet side by side. There will be no self-balancing wizardry going on though – forward motion and acceleration come courtesy of a twist grip, and steering is controlled just like on a bike, by turning the handlebars. An accessory bag mount for storage is planned, as well as seating, lighting and custom finish options.
A 36 V brushless hub motor will deliver an electronically-limited top speed of 25 km/h (16 mph), although this may change depending on local regulations. Zaid told us that he expects the vehicle to go up to 30 km (18.6 miles) on a single charge, depending on riding style and whether it's powered by an 8 Ah or 14 Ah Li-ion battery. The battery is juiced up via an external charger plugged into a 110 - 220-volt wall socket.
The current prototype features double disc brakes, but the company is currently working on an original (but confidential for the time being) braking idea for the production version.
The MUVe scooter will stand 73 cm (29 in) tall when folded out and ready to ride, and 35 cm when in trolley mode (where the rear wheel will be folded under the main body and the handlebars collapsed down). The renderings on the company's new website show a smartphone dock at the Y joint of the steering shaft, which will doubtless act as the info hub for performance data relating to the vehicle through an app. There's also talk of using a smartphone to activate an automated folding mechanism.
To help ensure that MUVe riders are able to lift the e-scooter up into the bus or train without having to be rushed to hospital for an emergency back operation, the design team is aiming for a total weight of less than 15 kg (33 lb).
Zaid and Shimon are currently seeking investment partners to help them manufacture a limited number of production vehicles by the end of this year, followed by full-scale production in 2014. The basic version is expected to cost just under US$2,000, with a premium model adding another $1,000 to the price tag.
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