Electric scooters are inundating cities, and for good reason. They’re relatively easy to use, accessible, cheap and even a fun means of traveling short distances. And yet, scooters aren’t infallible.
For one, it’s nearly impossible to use hand signals, a problem that jacks up the danger factor of these increasingly popular devices. Audi introduced an electric scooter Monday that could solve that problem.
The Audi e-tron scooter — a name that matches the German automaker’s all-electric SUV — combines a traditional electric scooter with the machinations of a skateboard. The scooter isn’t cheap; it’s priced at €2,000 ($2,244 on today’s exchange rate). And it sounds a bit more complicated to use. Users control the scooter like a skateboard with their feet by shifting their weight.
The scooter, which weighs 26 pounds and can be folded up or pulled like a trolley, has movable axles with four wheels for making tight turns.
Audi says using the scooter is like “surfing waves.” Setting this grandiloquent description aside, the scooter does allow for one-handed use, which should make it a lot safer. The one-handed design allows users to signal to cars, pedestrians and cyclists when they’re stopping or making a left or right turn.
This isn’t the only scooter that can be used with one hand. The Boosted scooter recently reviewed here at TechCrunch can be navigated with one hand. Still, the design feature is an exception, not the rule in scooterland.
The steering handle opens up this product to people whose skateboarding skills are lacking. The stem of the handle is also where the battery and electronics are stored and how riders accelerate and brake. A display at the base of the handle shows how much range is left in the battery.
The e-tron scooter might be easy to maneuver and safer to use, but with a top speed of 12.5 miles per hour, it could turn off potential customers.
The scooter has a range of 12.5 miles and uses regenerative braking, which can lengthen its range. It also comes with a hydraulic foot brake and LED lights, including a headlight, daytime running light, rear light and brake light.
Production and sales to private customers are planned for late 2020. Audi hinted that the scooter could be used in fleets or be provided to customers who buy its e-tron model electric vehicles. The e-scooter will be able to be charged in the car trunk through a dedicated socket.