5th August 2019
Audi announced a new electric vehicle combining an e-scooter with a skateboard. Production and Sales are planned for late-2020 for the Audi e-tron Scooter, which a rider can control with hand free, can look around and give hand signals.
Audi is joining the urban trend for multi-modal mobility using the advantages of both the electric scooter and the skateboard to design a “sporty” vehicle for that final mile from the commuter terminus and the office, school or home.
You are meant to transport yourself and the Audi e-tron Scooter by car, bus or train before skating along to your final destination. The twelve-kilogram (26-pound) e-scooter can be folded up and stored in the back of the car, or pulled along like a trolley in buses and trains.
The unique selling point is that the Audi e-tron Scooter rides like a skateboard or surfing waves. Riders keep one hand on the handlebar for speed and brake control but steer the scooter like a skateboard with their feet by shifting their weight. The movable axles with four wheels allow tight curves.
“With the Audi e-tron Scooter, we appeal to customers who are on the move in cities, sustainably and multi-modally – and for whom style and functionality are important.” says Thorsten Schrader, Project Manager for Micro-mobility at Audi.
The handle gives stability, houses the battery and electronics, and carries a display showing the battery status. Riders accelerate and brake with a twist grip. The range of 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) is feasible through energy recuperation when the brakes are used i.e. Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) like Formula 1 Grand Prix cars. There is also a hydraulic foot brake for additional safety.
The estimated price is 2,000 Euros and Audi envisages fleets for specific user groups e.g. residents in an apartment block or university campuses. Another option is to offer the e-scooter as an extra to customers who buy Audi e-tron cars. The e-scooter could be charged in the car from a dedicated socket. Then, you can whizz from the car park or charging point to your final destination at speeds up to 20 km/h (12.5 mph).
For legality in some countries, the Audi e-tron Scooter is fitted with required LED lights: a headlight, daytime running light, rear light and brake light. A Bluetooth interface allows individual adjustments to the ride characteristics and provides protection against theft (unless someone nicks your mobile phone). Snazzy designs incorporate either wood or carbon fibre decks in gray and black.
As electric scooters become increasingly popular across Europe, the authorities have been caught out by the technology and struggling with archaic regulations embarrassed by a spate of accidents.
Traditional two-wheeled electric scooters can travel at speeds in excess of 50km/h (30mph) and have been involved in hundreds of incidents, including several deaths. Tens of deaths have been linked to e-scooters in cities including Paris, Brussels, Barcelona, Stockholm and London. Hundreds of citizens have been injured in road traffic incidents involving e-scooters because currently they are permitted in many European countries, such as Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland.
Germany is now looking to enforce “clear” and “binding” laws. Law-makers are deciding if scooters are for pavements, cycle paths or public roads. There are no standard regulations and scooters are not currently required to provide certain safety features – some scooters only have one brake.
Audi is trying to mitigate and perhaps set the legal standard for e-scooters by having four wheels with independent axles for maneuverability and two types of brakes as well as “road legal” lights.
But whatever the design, electric scooters are still illegal in the U.K. and Ireland on public pavements and roads – they can only be ridden on private land with the permission of the landowner. U.K. riders caught using them in public, can expect a £300 fixed-penalty fine and six points on their driving licence. You lose your driving licence at 12 demerit points.
Sweden has banned the use of any motorised scooters capable of speeds beyond 20 km/h from bicycle lanes, hence Audi’s self-imposed 20 km/h limit.
In Paris, fines of €135 ($151; £116) were recently introduced for riding electric scooters on pavements, and a €35 penalty is issued if you park them in doorways or blocking pavements. France is also expected to give cities more power to regulate scooter use but we don’t know what they will be.
Belgium imposed a speed limit, where they can be ridden by anyone aged 18 years or more covered by the same laws as bicycles, although that limit was recently raised from 18km/h to 25km/h.
Copenhagen, Denmark is thinking of new rules to limit the number of scooters that can be parked in certain areas of the city.
All this means that however cool and innovative it is, the Audi e-tron Scooter faces potholes in its bid to be adopted on public roads and pavements.
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web magazine. He was former CEO of PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).