Just what we needed dept: A tiny 'car' to replace walking
The tiniest personal electric vehicle yet.
Because transportation plays such a huge role in our current energy and pollution problems, building a better system is a very complex issue. It's more than just building and selling enough electric and hybrid cars to fill driveways and highways, and swapping out diesel buses for electric ones, because a large part of the equation is also human behavior, and the challenge of getting people to choose more efficient and cleaner transportation options is a big one.
Clean public transit can provide the backbone of the infrastructure, but we need to also consider last-mile clean transportation solutions, and to embrace the ways that small electric vehicles such as e-bikes and scooters can help us move toward a more sustainable world. A personal electric transport solution, such as an electric-assist bicycle, can be purchased much more readily than a new electric car, and at a much lower cost, allowing for an immediately accessible lower-carbon (and cheaper) transportation option for many people. And if that vehicle can easily be carried or wheeled onto other transit options, such as the bus or train, then even better.
But when does it go too far? How much walking do we really need to avoid? That varies per person, certainly, but considering we're in a time when we're being told that our couch potato postures and our office chair slumping are literally killing us, and that if there was one thing we could do to improve our health, it would be to move more, perhaps we shouldn't be finding ways to walk less. However, wherever there's a perceived need, a tech solution is usually not long to follow, which is where Walkcar comes in.
Walkcar, from Cocoa Motors, is billed as "the world’s smallest car," and is capable of fitting into a laptop bag when not in use, while carrying its rider (stander?) along the pavement at about 10 mph (16 kmh) for up to an hour when needed. It weighs in at just over 6 pounds (2.8 kg), and measures about the same as a 13" laptop does, so it's designed to be light and convenient to carry, and to have a quick charging time (one hour). The Walkcar is 'driven' by leaning the rider's body in the desired direction.
"COCOA MOTORS inventor and CEO Kuniaki Sato, came up with the idea for the “Car in your bag” when he moved to Tokyo for university. He observed how people travel in the city by public transport and walking compared with how he used to drive his car everywhere back in his hometown. He wanted a form of transport that allowed him to go to all the places you can go on foot, whilst being able to go longer distances without getting exhausted by walking."
When looking at the wheels on the Walkcar, a furniture dolly comes to mind, and although the video footage makes it appear to glide easily over road and sidewalk surfaces, it sure doesn't look like a solution that is built to last, and it brings to mind the already mature design of skateboards and makes me wonder why this particular configuration of platform and wheels is better than those. Obviously, most skateboards are not going to fit into a laptop bag, and ultimately take up more of a footprint on the sidewalk than the Walkcar, so perhaps this smaller size makes for a more usable device in dense cities where a tiny electric vehicle can be easily carried along, in which case the Walkcar might be a decent choice.
However, at US$1280, it seems to be a bit costly for what you get (when compared with a similarly-priced e-bike or electric skateboard), unless of course it is exactly what you need for transportation. In which case, my characterization of the Walkcar as being in the 'just what we needed dept' would be more truth than snarkiness, and I hope that your electric car in a bag will carry you safely and cleanly wherever you need to go. Find out more at Cocoa Motors.