SEAT prepares to go into production with super-practical e-scooters
Automakers are looking down the barrel of massive industry change, and scrambling to be early on what's next when the transport world gets turned upside down by autonomous vehicles. They're all working on cheap, electric last-mile commuting options, and Spanish carmaker SEAT is the latest to carve out an urban mobility division to develop cheap, clean getabouts that break the four-wheeled mold.
Presenting at the Barcelona Smart City Expo World Congress, SEAT announced the creation of a new strategic business unit called SEAT Urban Mobility and debuted new electric motorcycle and kickscooter concepts. These humble little electrics are planned for actual production, either as consumer products or as part of fleets and sharing services. So let's take a quick look at them.
The SEAT e-Scooter, as it's known, is the electric equivalent of a 125cc twist-n-go scoot for getting around town. Its motor peaks at 11 kW (14.7 hp), and offers 240 Nm (177 lb-ft) of torque from a standstill, which sounds like a lot, but in reality it's a 3.8-second proposition getting from 0 to 50 km/h (31 mph). Still zippy enough to get you out in front of most traffic at the lights.
Top speed is a freeway-friendly 100 km/h (62 mph), and range per charge is around 115 km (71 mi), making it a perfectly practical little machine most folk can commute on daily without stretching the battery's capabilities. The battery is removable, so you can haul it inside to charge if you want (thus keeping it out of reach of ne'er-do-wells at the same time), and like all good scoots, you can pop up the seat to access a storage compartment big enough for two helmets. It's also got built-in comms gear enabling a smartphone app to track charge status and the location of the bike.
As far as urban road transport goes, it looks to us like SEAT has nailed the formula here: useful range, decent top speed, lots of luggage room, super simple. There's no pricing available yet, but if they can keep it from blowing out too far above the cost of a petrol scoot, there's every chance it can do well.
The e-Kickscooter concept builds on the 10,000-unit success of SEAT's previous e-Kickscooter. This new version offers a larger, 551-Wh battery pack, increasing range to around 65 km (40 mi) and running independent braking systems for the front and rear wheels, even if it looks like there's only the one brake lever.
There's no word on when the e-Kickscooter will hit the market, but SEAT says it's planning to have the e-Scooter motorcycle in production for 2020.
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I wonder if the 125-class scooter is also a rebrand of something, but the specs are <i>particularly</i> compelling for urban transport in cities with higher-speed arterials. IMO it's pretty ugly, though.