Smart eScooter

I was really hoping to ignore this…

Electric smart escooter concept (Daimler photo)

It can be lonely being the voice in the wilderness, the only one who seems to notice the emperor who everyone else thinks is so finely attired is in fact butt-nekkid. But such is the case with the upcoming smart escooter (no caps, please).

In a press release issued jointly by smart parent Daimler and Vectrix. the makers of the VX-1 maxi scooter, the companies announced a partnership jointly developing the production version of the escooter concept introduced at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.

While the release in question is long on platitudes and short on details, it seems likely the escooter would make use of the already-developed electric powertrain in the Vectrix VX-2. Yes, in the case of electric scooters there isn’t much wheel to reinvent; it would still save Daimler a considerable sum to use off-the-shelf components.

Which could, possibly, make the escooter the first smart-branded vehicle ever to, uh, make money. Originally planned as the Swatch car (same company as the watches, yes), the smart fortwo has never, ever, ever been profitable for Daimler in spite of sales worldwide approaching a million units since the car’s intro in late 1998.

While any other car company would’ve thrown in the towel ages ago, Daimler has a stubborn streak that has seen it flog lots of dead horses. Yes, if you travel to any of Europe’s major cities (Rome especially), you will see lots and lots of smart fortwos running around. That’s because a car measuring 3 meters in length is something you need when there’s not a lot of room to park (something unlikely to be an issue in the Wide Open Spaces of the U.S. and Canada).

So instead of cutting its losses, and instead of broadening its range of automotive offerings (y’know, like MINI), smart aims to be the go-to place for Urban Mobility . Which to a lot of people, means a scooter. An ELECTRIC scooter.

Vectrix claims a 30 mph top speed and 40-55 mile range on a charge for the VX-2. It comes with a portable charger that you can plug into any 110/220V outlet, but the Web page doesn’t say how easily you could pop the battery out, so as to take it to your workplace and charge it there. In all likelihood, the escooter would have exactly the same setup.

Smart eScooter

But what happens if there’s no electricity? You remember Superstorm Sandy, right? How among other things, it plunged New York City into darkness, and left many thousands of people in surrounding states without electricity for days, if not weeks? What do you do if, unlike some of Nicholas Kristof’s neighbors. you can’t afford your very own auxiliary generator?

This may become increasingly problematic as America’s creaky, aging elctric grid further deteriorates.

And you’ve heard about the Nissan LEAFs in Arizona that are eating up their batteries much, much sooner than expected, right? Of course Nissan is blaming their customers, but it was Nissan who kept saying, hey, you can use a LEAF just like a regular car, no problem! Of course, they’re no longer saying you can go 100 miles on a charge.

One hundred years ago, electric vehicles disappeared because their disadvantages significantly outweighed their advantages. In that time, not much has changed.

But then, most people who buy scooters in the U.S. might ride them once or twice. The smart escooter might get out the garage a bit more often because people who buy them are more interested in rubbing others’ noses in their green-ness. For them, and for Daimler, that’s really what matters.

Smart eScooter
Smart eScooter
Smart eScooter

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