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BMW unveils iPhone-powered electric Scooter concepts

BMW has three new members of its growing Mini family. Surprisingly though, none of the new additions is a car. Say hello, eco fanatics, to the Mini Scooter E concept.

Rory Reid

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BMW has unveiled three new members of its growing Mini family. Surprisingly though, none of the new additions is a car -- the Mini Scooter E concept is a range of electric-powered scooters.

The first of these (pictured far right) is built to carry two passengers and is finished in the same yellow and black paintwork as the Mini E electric hatchpack prototype. The second is a more traditional-looking single-seater scooter finished in British racing green, while the third draws inspiration from the 1960s Mod era.

The scooters share traditional Mini design traits including large, circular speedometers, but feature some interesting modern twists, too. All three versions allow the rider to use their smart phone as an ignition key. Users simply dock their device behind a weather-resistant flap and the scooters are ready to go.

This has several advantages, according to BMW, over a standard old-school key-based ignition system. Smart phones can double as sat-navs and music players and let you make calls over a Bluetooth-equipped helmet. But it raises several questions: What happens if you lose your phone? What happens if you run out of battery? How do you get an iPhone on your keyring?

BMW is also releasing a Mini Scooter E concept smart phone app, which enables drivers to know where other Mini Scooter E concept owners are on a map. Its designers reckon it'll work like a social network, encouraging interaction between riders of similar machines. Actually, it'll force interaction between Mini Scooter E riders, since the app will flash your headlights when you encounter other riders on the road.

BMW's is keeping pretty quiet on the Mini Scooter Concept E's performance specs. We know they'll all store power on lithium-ion batteries, use electric motors built into the rear wheels, and accept charge via retractable leads in the back, but there's currently no word on how fast they'll go or how far they'll travel between charges.

Hopefully we'll be able to wrestle more information from BMW at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. In the meantime, have a gander through the photos by clicking through our gallery above.

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