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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 August 2019

Audi gets into micromobility with e-scooter-skateboard hybrid

German car maker says the e-tron Scooter will be available late next year and given as an extra initially with its e-tron model
Audi's e-tron Scooter will be available from the end of next year, German car maker says. Courtesy Audi

Car maker Audi entered the micromobility market with its e-tron Scooter, a combination of a scooter and a skateboard.

The 12 kilogram electric scooter is designed for sporty riders, Audi said, and can be folded up for transportation. Production and sales are planned for late next year, said the German company.

Audi's e-tron Scooter. Courtesy Audi

The e-scooter, with a range of about 20 kilometres, will be priced at about €2,000 (Dh8,213), Audi said. The company may offer the model as an extra to customers who buy Audi e-tron cars. The e-scooter could be charged in an e-tron's boot through a dedicated socket, the car company said.

Riders keep one hand on the handlebar as they control the scooter like a skateboard by shifting their weight with their feet, said Thorsten Schrader, project manager for micromobility at Audi.

The steering handle holds the battery and the electronics, and has a display showing the battery status. Riders accelerate and brake by means of a twist grip. To help achieve the 20-km range, the e-scooter recovers kinetic energy from the brake system, said Audi.

The car manufacturer's product comes as the so-called "micromobility" revolution sweeps across worldwide, with local authorities taking different approaches to the rise of alternative transport.

The National this month reported that Dubai ride-haling company Careem is in talks to run one of Abu Dhabi's first e-scooter rental services after the UAE capital legalised the leasing of the vehicles.

Careem, which was bought by Uber for more than $3 billion (Dh11.01bn) this year, said it believes two-wheel devices are the future of micromobility.

“We have been interested in the micromobility space for a very long time,” Bassel Al Nahlaoui, managing director of Careem in the Arabian Gulf, told The National.

“Careem acquired Cyacle, an Abu Dhabi bike-sharing company, early this year marking our entry to the space before the announcement."

Mr Al Nahlaoui said the company was "in discussions with DoT [Department of Transport] and we will be able to disclose more information in the future".

“We see residents across the UAE owning their own scooters to cover their last mile transport needs from and to public transport stations, so the demand definitely exists,” he said.

Earlier this year, Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority banned electric scooters from the emirate while it investigates how to regulate its use.

The RTA issued a circular in April outlawing the vehicles until further notice.

The RTA is “considering the technical and legislative requirements to allow the operation of electric scooters in addition to the conditions and commitment of scooter driver”, said the circular.

In October, the French government announced plans to ban e-scooters from sidewalks and ordered riders to use bike lanes or roads.

US e-scooter sharing companies such as Bird, Lime and Jump (a subsidiary of Uber) have been expanding to Europe this year, where they face competition from local start-ups – Voi in Stockholm and Wind in Berlin. It is impossible to determine the exact number of scooters that have appeared on the streets this year, but it is likely to be in the tens of thousands, according to Bloomberg.

Germany permitted e-scooters on cycle paths and roads in May, limiting its speed to 20kph. The following month, they were made available for sharing in Berlin. It is estimated that there are 5,000 of them on the city’s streets.

Updated: August 14, 2019 02:33 PM