Volkswagen is thinking small at the 2019 Geneva auto show, exploring zero-emissions, "micromobility" with a pair of concept scooters. The Volkswagen Streetmate is an fully electric scooter for urban dwellers, while the Cityskater envisions "last mile" transportation for commuters who might carry the three-wheeler on a bus or car.
The larger of Volkswagen's two concepts is the Streetmate, a fully electric scooter for medium-range urban travel. Powered by a 2.7-horsepower electric motor integrated into its rear-wheel hub, the Streetmate is capable of a top speed of 28 mph. That means a helmet, license, insurance and registration would be required in Europe to ride this 143 pound electric scooter.
The two-wheeled Streetmate looks like a cross between a bicycle and a kick-scooter. You can ride it standing up or while sitting once its seat is folded down from the front pillar. A handlebar-mounted thumb switch serves as the acceleration control while anti-lock disc brakes work alongside regenerative braking by the electric motor to slow the scooter.
Volkswagen Streetmate, Cityskater concepts scoot into the 2019 Geneva Motor ShowSee all photos
The Streetmate can be plugged in to recharge in just over 2 hours or its 1.3 kWh lithium-ion battery pack can be removed and charged separately indoors. Either way, a fully juiced battery will serve up to 21 miles of range when the scooter is set to its Eco riding mode. That's not a terrific amount of range -- you won't be taking any road trips on the Streetmate -- but VW thinks it's a sufficient amount for cruising around town.
Riders will monitor the Streetmate's performance via a 5.3-inch weatherproof, waterproof color display mounted on handlebars. Here, you'll find information regarding charge state, speed and other vehicle information. Linking the scooter to your web-connected phone will also enable turn-by-turn navigation and turn the phone into a digital key that'll let you start the electric scooter and disable its security alarm.
The weirder of the two concepts is the Cityskater, a three-wheel street surfer with two articulating front wheels and one rear wheel. You stand with one foot on the scooter's two footboards and steer by leaning into the turn -- like you would when skiing -- while holding a central control rod for stability, acceleration and braking.
The driven rear wheel is spun by a 0.5-horsepower electric motor. That should be enough grunt for the scooter to carry up to 265 pounds of passenger, propel itself to a top speed of 12 mph and climb hills up to a 10-percent grade -- but probably not all of these things at the same time.
The 33-pound scooter folds up so that it can be carried onto buses or other transit, fit into a car's trunk or stored away when you get where you're going. The Cityskater's 0.2-kWh lithium-ion battery is good for up to 9 miles of cruising range. Plugging into a standard 230-volt European wall outlet, the battery can be charged to 50-percent capacity in less than an hour.
Both the scooters are still in the concept phase of design. But Volkswagen is currently exploring both for production. The Cityskater is being evaluated for use on bike paths and the larger Streetmate for use on European roads.