What is less certain, perhaps, is exactly what the future of micro-mobility might look like. It might be reasonable to think that the conventional L-shaped e-scooter will continue its dominance of the roads (and pavements), thanks to its convenience, portability and range. On the other hand, you might imagine something completely different.
That is what Honda has done with the Motocompacto. Inspired by the company’s previous Motocompo folding scooter – which was about four decades ahead of its time, and sold as a factory add-on in Japan in 1981-83 – the Motocompacto is a tiny e-scooter with a range of up to 19km (12 miles).
Honda said it “redefines affordable all-electric personal transportation with sleek and simple styling and an innovative, ultra-compact foldable design”. But could it be too weird for its own good?
The first thing that strikes you about the Motocompacto is its unusual appearance. In riding mode it looks a bit like a cyberpunk briefcase that has been overstuffed with scooter components, which extend just far enough to reach the ground and provide the rider with some level of comfort. Those parts – handlebars, saddle, rear wheel fork and foot pegs – can then be folded into the sleek, rectangular body when not in use.
Designed by Honda engineers in Ohio and California as an “innovative approach to personal electric transportation”, the Motocompacto has earned 32 patents. Weighing 18.7kg, it is designed to be compact and stackable when in folded mode, letting riders bring it in cars, on public transport, or store it in tight places.
“Motocompacto is uniquely Honda – a fun, innovative and unexpected facet of our larger electrification strategy,” said Jane Nakagawa, vice-president of the company’s R&D business unit. “Sold in conjunction with our new all-electric SUVs, Motocompacto supports our goal of carbon neutrality by helping customers with end-to-end zero-emissions transport.”
A direct-drive motor provides peak output of 490W to the front wheel, with 16Nm of torque and a maximum speed of 24km/h (15mph).
The scooter “is easy to use and fun to ride, but was also designed with safety, durability, and security in mind,” said Nick Ziraldo, project leader and design engineering unit leader. “It uses a robust heat-treated aluminium frame and wheels, bright LED headlight and tail-light, side reflectors, and a welded steel lock loop on the kickstand that is compatible with most bike locks.”
Other features include on-board storage, a digital speedometer, a charge gauge and a carry handle. A phone app lets riders adjust their personal settings, including lighting and ride modes. Sales were due to start in November, with a suggested price of just over £800.
Press images showed the Motocompacto with a clean white finish, but Honda said the scooter is designed to be personalised with “decals, stickers, skins and more,” making it stand out even more than it already does. It is a unique take on micro-mobility – but, when it comes to decarbonising transport, the more options consumers have, the better.
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