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

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

Mini Electric Citysurfer Scooter Concept

Electric Citysurfer Scooter Concept folded...

Electric Citysurfer Scooter Concept folded...

...and stowed.

...and stowed.

(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.