With the somewhat blaring headline:
"SPONTANEOUS RIDING FUN - VERSATILE AND EMISSIONS-FREE: THE MINI CITYSURFER CONCEPT"
...the Mini folks have joined the folding two-wheeled scooter fray. Forgive us if we're somewhat unimpressed.
LA Show Debuts Mini Electric Citysurfer Scooter Concept
Specs from the press release:
With a maximum speed of up to 25 km/h (15 mph) and an electric range of some 15 to 25 kilometers (10 - 15 miles), the MINI Citysurfer Concept is ideally suited for day-to-day use over short distances. The full range of the concept vehicle's strengths especially come into their own when it is used as a spontaneously available supplement to an automobile or local public transport. Thanks to its low weight of some 18 kilograms (40 lbs) and a folding concept, it fits easily into the luggage compartment of the new MINI 3 door, for example.
...and a bunch of photos:
Mini Electric Citysurfer Scooter Concept
Electric Citysurfer Scooter Concept folded...
(What we heard was "waah wahh wahh 25 km/h (15 mph) wahh wahh range of 25 kilometers (10 - 15 miles), wahh wahh wahh 18 kilograms (40 lbs) wahh wahh folding concept,wahh wahh wahh wahh. Apologies to Charlie Brown's mother.)
So, why are we less-than-amazed? Well, for one, it ain't that "mini". Almost any major retail chain is going to feature some little scooter thing that's way waaaaay mini-er. Then there's the Hobby King scooter we covered a few days ago, the ScootPlus. Better specs, a whole lot smaller and lighter. It looks to us like you could fit about a dozen of those folded up little suckers in that boot. You like those big wheels though? Well, Razor has had the EcoSmart Metro for more than a few years now, with a faster top speed, more range, a little more weight but alas, it doesn't fold. Price? Around $420. The price of the Electric Citysurfer? MINI only knows... Don't forget, (as one of our readers likes to remind us), the Go-Ped Hoverboard. It's kind of awesome, too.
And are we the only ones slightly bemused by a "concept" designation on a type and style of product that's been around for a decade or so, and has less than "concept"-grade specs? hmmm?
Funny thing. Because we're total geeks, we noticed this comment in the press release:
"For safety reasons, the auxiliary power of the electric motor is not activated until the rider reaches a minimum speed purely through physical thrust. This prevents the vehicle from rolling away unintentionally."
Uh, yeah, okay. What's going on there is they're using a brushless motor, with a cheap motor controller that doesn't use a standard hall-sensor array to control the motor. It's known as a "sensorless" controller and uses the dynamic magnetic fields to control the timing of the motor. The only disadvantage? It has to be started rotating manually - it has no "starting torque", so it gets started spinning by the rider - a good cheap, simple and reliable solution for scooters and bicycles, not so much anything else. Nice way to "spin" cheaper tech into a "safety" feature, too.
It's electric, it's fun, it folds. Not a bad "concept." We just it could have been done a little, well Mini-er.