Daimler plans electric motor scooter | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 05.07.2010
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Daimler plans electric motor scooter

Daimler plans an electric scooter as the carmaker moves to build different types of electric vehicles for different market segments. It's not the first motorcycle, by the way, to come from the Stuttgart-based car icon.

Person demonstrating eletric scooter

Carmakers see market for city electric motor scooters

The news came from the top. In a television program over the weekend, Daimler chief executive officer Dieter Zetsche said the German carmaker "will soon present an e-scooter."

While many Daimler car fans may wonder why the company would want to add e-scooters to its premium car and truck-dominated product portfolio, car analysts aren't surprised by the move.

"It's all about the e-mobility push by the car industry," Christoph Stuermer, an auto analyst with IHS Global Insight in Frankfurt, told Deutsche Welle. "A key element of this strategy is to build specific vehicles, like e-scooters, for specific market segments, such as short-distance travel in urban areas. Daimler aims to fill all these segments with products."

Man holding battery

Lithium-ion batteries are powering a new wave of e-scooters

Global effort

Daimler spokeswoman Eva Wiese batted down speculation that Daimler may hand over development of the new e-scooter to its new Chinese electric vehicle partner, BYD, which is specialized in car battery and drive technology.

"We will develop the e-scooter ourselves, using components, of course, from our global network of suppliers," Wiese told Deutsche Welle. "It will be a global product, as all our products are."

While motorcycle manufacturing, arguably, has not been a core competency of Daimler, company co-founder Gottlieb Daimler is credited with having invented the first gasoline engine-powered motorcycle in 1885. Essentially, it was a four-stroke internal combustion engine mounted on a wooden bicycle.

BMW and Peugeot with head start

Much has happened in the way of motorcycle development since then, most recently in the area of electrically powered systems. And perhaps to the dismay of Daimler, some of its major competitors in Europe, including BMW and Peugeot, have a head start.

In the early 2000s, BMW launched the C1, an enclosed scooter with many innovative features to protect the rider in an accident.

Smart car being recharged

Daimler now offers an electric version of its Smart urban car

Last year, BMW, which manufacturers both cars and motorcycles, also unveiled an electric version of the scooter for the European Safer Urban Motorcycling project. The electric motor is powered by a lithium-ion battery with sufficient power for most inner-city driving conditions.

French carmaker Peugeot, which mass-produced its first e-scooter 15 years ago, has launched yet another, the E-Vivacity. It is also equipped with lithium-ion battery capable of covering up to 100 kilometers on the road.

"It's a logical move for Daimler to build an e-scooter," Stuermer said. "The company is engineering an electrical version of its Smart urban car and hybrid models of its sedans for longer distances. And now it plans a light vehicle for short city trips. It's filling all the gaps."

Author: John Blau
Editor: Sam Edmonds

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