City travel can be a hassle, especially when it involves the daily grind of commuting to work. Cities like Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and yes, even the Northwest’s up-and-coming Seattle are nightmares for cross-city travel.
Ingenious concepts like sharable cars, low-cost recyclable bicycles and a healthy public transit system have helped reduce traffic jams in urban centers. But for some commuters, there’s still nothing better than having your own personalized set of wheels – unless of course, they are wheels you can fold up and handily carry with you on trains, buses and other public transportation systems.
That’s where the Muv-e personal transportation system comes in.
The brainchild of Israeli automotive designer Amir Zaid, the Muv-e scooter takes up where most collapsible electric scooters leave off. Its three large wheels, sturdy body and sustainable power system makes the concept an attractive option for city commuting.
The Muv-e, which is currently in prototype, has frequently been compared to the Segway personal transportation system for its adaptability. The Segway motorized system, which was released in 2001, made its mark because of the adaptability of its design and use for city travel. It’s frequently used by police departments in areas where automobile transport isn’t feasible, such as airports and other large pedestrian complexes. While its large wheels provide sturdiness on most flat terrain, the Segway PT is heavy (around 100-110 lbs) and wouldn’t be a candidate for carrying on and off public transport.
The Muv-e on the other hand, is designed with portability in mind. The weight of the basic model is expected to be around 30 lbs – less than the maximum limit for luggage on airplanes (or for that matter, a squirmy three-year-old in arms). It folds up into a trolley on two wheels, making it a neat, portable package that can be stored in small spaces.
The scooter is expected to be able to travel about the same speed as a Segway PT, between 20 and 25 mph. Zaid estimates that the rechargeable battery on the basic model will be good for about a 7-mile distance before recharging.
But the best quality of the Muv-e may be its customized options.
“The basic concept is that you will be able to personalize the vehicle to your own needs and taste, starting with electric setup to colors and accessories,” says Zaid.
Future models will be programmable by cell phone, giving users the advantages of a “smart scooter” for routine destinations. Battery packs will be outfitted for either 110- or 250-volt connections, for use in the U.S. or abroad. Customers will also be able to order a Cadillac version, with a larger battery for greater distance, WiFi connectivity and a personalized design.
Zaid has already received a fair amount of interest in his scooter, both in Israel and abroad. With the recent financial backing of the 3-D design company Autodesk, Zaid expects the first model should be out in 2013.
“The first product is intended to be launched in Israel by the end of this year and in the U.S. by the first quarter of 2014,” says Zaid.
There will no doubt be some legal issues to overcome here in the U.S., where smaller, and less stable two-wheeled scooters are banned from street travel, or have age and licensing restrictions for those under the legal driving age. But its success in Israeli markets, in a country whose cities often rival American cities in congestion and traffic jams, will be a good benchmark by which to judge its feasibility for North American city travel. At an estimated $2,000-3,000 per scooter (Segways are estimated at $5,000 and up), it offers yet another innovative way to meet the demands of city travel.
Images courtesy of Muv-e Personal Transportation.