Mercedes-Benz’s struggling Smart division will test public reaction to a new two-wheeled alternative to its signature Fortwo city car at next week’s Paris motor show with the unveiling of this futuristic-looking plug-in electric scooter.
Billed as a concept, the so-called escooter is among a number of two and four-wheeled proposals Smart managing director Marc Langenbrinck is currently considering for production as part of a recently enacted in-house programme that aims to more heavily focus the German car maker’s everyday operations on mobility solutions.
This is seen with Smart’s increasingly expanding car-to-go scheme, which Autocar can reveal is being considered for introduction in London.
Based around a steel and aluminium frame with interchangeable plastic panels – features mirrored on the Fortwo – the escooter is powered by a 4kW electric motor mounted beneath the seat and driving the rear wheel.
The brushless unit draws energy from a 48-volt lithium ion battery mounted in the floor area with a capacity of 80Ah – sufficient, says Smart, for a range of up to 62 miles in typical city traffic.
Charging is via a socket located underneath the hinged Smart emblem at the front. Additional energy is supplied by solar cells mounted within the panel at the front of the escooter.
Drawing on parent company Mercedes-Benz’s safety know-how, Smart has provided the escooter with energy-recouping brakes that require a squeeze of a single traditional handlebar-mounted lever to operate both the front and rear discs. They also feature an anti-lock system.
Also included is an airbag. Mounted inside the panel beneath the handlebars, it is designed to provide protection to the torso and legs in the case of a frontal impact.
Other neat touches include Blind Spot Assist. As with Mercedes’ more recent models, it uses a small rectangular lamp mounted in the rear-view mirrors to warn of objects in the blind spot – the typical cause of accidents on scooters.
The controls are taken care of by a smartphone that slots into the centre of the handlebars to provide information on speed and energy levels, as well as acting as a communication and navigation device. A pop-out seat, meanwhile, is designed to accommodate a pillion passenger.