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Auto manufacturers invest in a carless future

A brand-by-brand comparison of auto companies’ electric bikes and scooters

Image: Shutterstock

Consider the following situation – the closest parking spot to the concert amphitheater is a mile-long walk. Instead of circling the block, wasting time and gas, or using a Lime or Bird app to locate the nearest scooter, perhaps you’d rather dismount a fully charged electric scooter or bike from the trunk or front car door and make it to the concert on time. Auto manufacturers remain a proponent of autonomy and ownership, even if what they’re manufacturing are varieties of electric scooters and bikes. 


In 2020, Audi expects to release its E-tron Scooter. The handle bar design encourages the use of just one hand and a sideways stance – similar to riding a skateboard. The device can be folded, stored and charged in the car’s trunk. Audi considers the scooter as inclusive with the purchase of the Audi e-tron SUVs. The company may also release the E-trons in fleets. The E-tron Scooter’s maximum speed is 12.5 miles per hour (mph), but when fully charged, the scooter has a range of 12.5 miles. The price of one E-tron is approximately $2,200. 


This month,  after a successful collaboration with Micro, BMW will release three different e-scooters. The matte black BMW E-Scooter uses a 150-watt motor, lithium ion battery and two braking systems. With a full battery, the E-scooter has a 7.5-mile range at a maximum 12.5 mph. While the E-Scooter does fold for convenient carrying, the BMW City Scooter is made for greater convenience, built with a locking device and low footplate. For children aged 3-12, BMW is also releasing  the BMW Kid’s Scooter, available in black, orange and white, and raspberry red. The suggested retail price for the E-scooter is $875, the City Scooter is $220 and the Kid’s Scooter is $130. 


Ford has had an interest in electric bikes since 2015 when it collaborated with Dahon to release the MoDe:Me e-bike, which was designed to fold into a trunk. But Business Insider calls the Ford Super Cruiser the carmaker’s official e-bike, selling for $3,695. The e-bike is lower tech than other models, with no LCD display or Bluetooth connection, but can reach 20 mph and has a range of 15 to 30 miles when fully charged. 

General Motors 

Earlier this year, General Motors released two e-bikes, now for sale in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. The ARĪV Meld is compact, but cannot be folded and easily wheeled like The Merge. Both bikes use a 250-watt battery, which takes 3.5 hours to fully charge. Once charged, the bikes can travel at 15 mph and up to 40 miles. Also technologically equipped, these bikes are Bluetooth- and USB-capable and come with a smartphone mount. No announcements have been made about their arrival in the U.S. 


Hyundai’s prototype e-scooter can be tri-folded and mounted inside the front door of future Hyundai and Kia vehicles. The e-scooter gets up to 12.5 miles per hour, has rear wheel drive and runs on a lithium ion battery. The mount inside the door also serves as a charging station, and the scooter has a range of 12 miles on a charged battery. This model builds on Hyundai’s Ioniq Scooter concept from 2017, only now there’s front wheel suspension. Hyundai has not announced when to expect these scooters on the showroom floor and which vehicle will companion them. 


This French automobile company was established during Napoleon’s empire as a bicycle and coffee mill manufacturer, so it’s not surprising that Peugeot was one of the first auto makers to enter the growing market in 2010. Its website is stocked full of bikes – electric and manual – but the company’s eLC01 is geared towards urbanites with an aluminum luggage rack, USB port, LED display and a 400-watt battery.


Still in the concept phase, Volkwagen released two e-scooter prototypes in March of this year. The first, Streetmate, is a 2.7-horsepower bicycle-scooter hybrid, which weighs 143 pounds, can travel as fast as 28 mph and has a range of 21 miles, fully charged. The scooter is Bluetooth-capable to access a digital key and alarm system. The second prototype is the Cityskater, which looks more like your typical e-scooter, with a maximum speed of 12 mph and a range of 9 miles with a full battery. 

Electric scooters and bicycles offer an environmentally friendly alternative to car driving in congested urban areas. Auto companies have noted this clever solution for last-mile transit, and many are choosing to create their own prototypes, rather than deny McKinsey & Co.’s projection that last-mile mobility will be worth $500 billion by 2030. 

By owning an e-scooter or e-bike, instead of renting through Lime or Bird, consumers are responsible for their upkeep and maintenance, which requires a greater financial investment. However, ownership could create more responsible users. 

While many of these models are still in the research and development phase, consumers can now begin assessing the ever-diversifying market of e-scooters and e-bikes.  

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Corrie White

Corrie is fascinated how the supply chain is simultaneously ubiquitous and invisible. She covers freight technology, cross-border freight and the effects of consumer behavior on the freight industry. Alongside writing about transportation, her poetry has been published widely in literary magazines. She holds degrees in English and Creative Writing from UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Greensboro.