The world's largest carmaker has revealed plans to build a three-wheel fold-up electric scooter that will cost less than €1000 when it comes to market next year.
Called the Last Mile Surfer, the three-wheeler has a range of roughly 20km and weighs 11kg. The idea is that the scooter is light and compact enough to be stowed in a car or carried onto the train, bus or metro as part of the daily commute.
As such, the Volkswagen Group is the latest in a growing line of car companies to start seriously considering what the European Commission calls "multimodal personal mobility," which will be key in reliving congestion, reducing reliance on car ownership, cutting air pollution and improving the quality of life in urban areas in the future.
It means joining the currently disparate dots in the public transport chain -- integrating electric car-pooling, bicycle sharing, bus, train and metro timetables into one comprehensive whole -- so that journeys in and out of the city are seamless and car-less but, according to the EC's 2013 report into the concept, "It [also] involves the use of innovative technologies such as small electric vehicles with two, three or four wheels as well as smartphones and apps to provide information and access to all modes."
Since October 2014, Grenoble, in southeastern France, has been acting as a test bed for this level of integration, providing commuters with access to Toyota iRoad compact electric vehicles, as a means of completing the last mile of their commutes. Furthermore, all modes of public transport have been integrated into a single app that enables travelers to optimize their commute, alter plans and reserve a vehicle at the tap of a display.
At the LA Auto Show Mini demonstrated its CitySurfer Concept which is also a collapsible two-wheel kick-scooter with a battery motor to offer an extra push. It even boasts a smartphone mount for using GPS and for keeping the handset topped up.
In January, Honda unveiled the latest generation of its UNI-CUB experimental electric vehicle which is essentially a powered, Omni-directional stool one sits on top of, holding on to the saddle, rather than to handlebars.
While in March at the Mobile World Congress, Ford demonstrated the MoDe:Me. A lightweight fold-up bicycle that uses a heart-rate monitor to decide when to switch to electric-only power. It was showcased alongside an experimental app that could work across different forms of transit to calculate the optimum route for the owner in real time.