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Mini’s electric scooter combines smartphone tech & sex appeal
by Kathryn Robbins on September 24, 2010
Scooters have long been an option for urban dwellers looking for an inexpensive way to get around a city. Their fuel economy rates are much better than a traditional car and it’s a lot easier to find a parking space. Mini and their parent company BMW are taking the scooter to the next level by combining English style with smartphone technology to create the Mini Scooter E Concept that will be unveiled next week at the Paris Auto Show.
Like the rest of the Mini Cooper lineup, the Scooter E Concept doesn’t disappoint when it comes to design. Three models are set to debut which include a single-seater in British racing green, a two-seater which takes cues from the electric Mini E, and a mod inspired two-seater that harkens back to the swinging 1960’s.
Beneath the design, Mini has packed in a number of features that rely on smartphone technology. Instead of using keys owners can start up their scooter by docking their iPhone into what Mini calls the scooter’s “cockpit.” Besides acting as a key the smartphone also acts as a hands-free GPS, music player, and as an actual phone for drivers with a bluetooth enabled helmet.
When the all-electric Mini Cooper E was first tested in the US, many of the owners found each other via social networking sites like Facebook in order to swap stories. Mini has embedded a social networking element of sorts with the scooter; their GPS software will alert drivers when another Scooter E Concept is in the area and flash their lights when they pass each other on the road.
Mini hasn’t revealed a lot about the Scooter E Concept’s range, but they did say that it is powered by a rear-wheel electric motor that uses a compact lithium-ion battery. Unlike its EV car cousins, the Mini Scooter E Concept charges up via a standard household plug through a retractable cord in the back of of the scooter.
About forty of the scooters are being tested in the UK with a goal of a bigger rollout in Europe in coming years. With another possible strike by London subway workers, Mini’s scooter may arrive in showrooms sooner rather than later.