(Green Car Reports) — Honda has revealed a U.S.-designed electric scooter, intended for “first and last mile” transport, that will fold up into its own suitcase-size carrying case.
The scooter, called Motocompacto, appears like it might be a perfect mobility accessory to pack into the upcoming 2024 Honda Prologue EV. And it will cost less than $1,000, Honda says.
The Motocompacto, which will be available for purchase starting in November, is powered by a permanent-magnet motor and direct-drive arrangement. Peak output is 490 watts, or about two-thirds of a horsepower, with a listed peak torque of 11.8 lb-ft. Top speed is 15 mph, and the 6.8 ampere-hour battery can be charged up on a 110-volt AC socket in 3.5 hours.
The most impressive of the scooter’s specs—other than how compact it is when folded—is its riding range: up to 12 miles, according to Honda. That’s easily enough to get around a dense urban core, across a campus, or around a beach community, for instance.
There’s precedent, in that Honda once sold a similar folding scooter. The original Motorcompo was sold from 1981-1983, and Honda has revisited the idea in all-electric form at least once. And in recent years there have been other (much more expensive) electric scooters that fold up like suitcases.
This fully electric revival was designed and developed by Honda engineers in Ohio and California, and it’s already earned 32 patents.
The scooter is made with heat-treated aluminum for the frame and wheels—likely a key decision to save weight—while a welded steel lock loop is compatible with most bike locks, according to Honda. It has speedometer and battery level gauges, and what’s described as a cushy seat, while LED lighting, onboard storage, and a carry handle altogether assure a level of usability beyond its first-glance gimmick.
Don’t altogether dismiss a little interface gimmickry, though. There’s also a phone app allowing personal settings for lighting and ride modes.
The scooter doesn’t need a separate carrying case; it converts into one and altogether weighs just 41.3 pounds. At 29.2 inches long, 21.1 inches high, and just 3.7 inches wide folded, it’s compact enough to potentially bring on public transportation.
That’s of course also a great set of dimensions for fitting into trunks and vehicle cargo areas—which appears to be what Honda has in mind. It hasn’t yet listed any accompanying products that pair it directly with its vehicles, but it says a line of Motocompacto accessories like a helmet and backpack are on the way.
Unfolded, the Motocompacto measures 38.1 inches long, with a 35.0-inch height and a 17.2-inch width. Its seat height is 24.5 inches.
Honda doesn’t directly say that this scooter will be packaged within a future EV—perhaps partly because it hasn’t yet revealed much about its GM-codeveloped 2024 Prologue due next year, or the EV built on its own e:Architecture arriving in 2025. But it hints that the Motocompacto will be a good pairing with its EVs so as to meet company sustainability goals.
“Sold in conjunction with our new all-electric SUVs, Motocompacto supports our goal of carbon neutrality by helping customers with end-to-end zero-emissions transport,” said American Honda R&D vice president Jane Nakagawa.
E-bike sales surged at the start of the pandemic, and while many vehicle brands including Porsche, Jeep, and Land Rover have offered co-branded e-bikes, few have opted to build their own. GM attempted to build its own e-bikes in 2019 and killed the operation a year later.
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Honda is different, though. As a longtime motorcycle and scooter maker, and a mobility company in a different way than other automakers, it may again show here that it can deliver multiple levels of efficiency-maximizing mobility.