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iPhone electric scooter might tempt texters

Terra Motors' A4000i displays battery charge and navigation info on your iPhone. Usage data could help urban planners in bustling Asian cities.

Smartphone scooter
Terra Motors

Like many people who are getting sick of cars, my friend ditched his Saab for a sky-colored Vespa. It doesn't quite live up to its nickname of Blue Thunder, but it's a hassle-free, old-school ride that costs very few shekels at the pump.

Terra Motors, the Tokyo startup that recently launched an electric tuk-tuk, has unveiled something even more appealing: an electric scooter with an iPhone dock.

The A4000i can link to your phone and display data on power consumption, remaining battery charge, average speed, and mileage, as well as navigation information via an app.

The company is calling it the first bike of its kind to enter mass production, and it plans to start turning them out at a factory in Vietnam in December.

It's targeting Asian countries, where scooters are concentrated, amid rising fuel costs and pollution in large cities. Rider data also could be used to track traffic patterns and help urban planners improve overcrowded metropolises.

The A4000i can seat two, tackle rough roads, and climb inclines smoothly. It also can be used for commercial purposes, as scooters are often used to haul goods in Southeast Asian countries.

The bike has an average range of roughly 40 miles. The removable lithium-ion battery takes around 4.5 hours to charge and is good for up to 31,000 miles, which Terra says is far better than rival Chinese electric scooters.

The company says that in Japan, where electricity costs about 12 cents per kWh (about the same as in the U.S.) and gasoline is roughly $5.40 a gallon, the bike can save riders significant amounts of money compared with a gas-powered scooter.

The company aims to sell 2,000 units of the A4000i, which will have a price tag of about $4,500. That's far more than the average price of a scooter in, say, India, but Terra hopes the bike's durability and quality will appeal to riders.

What do you think? Would you be more inclined to ride a scooter if it was connected with your smartphone?