At first glance, I had a hard time figuring out what Honda’s latest contraption was supposed to be.
A rolling suitcase? A vacuum cleaner? A bicycle for robots?
But no, this boxy vehicle is actually an e-scooter with a 12-mile range and a max speed of 15 mph. It also charges in 3.5 hours from a normal power outlet and folds up into a slim square, according to a Honda announcement Thursday.
The design is an update of a Honda throwback: the Motocompo, a short-lived 1980s scooter that made a small cultural splash among collectors while never reaching mainstream awareness. But the Motocompo still used gas. Its new successor, the Motocompacto, offers the same compact design while avoiding the need for fossil fuels.
“Motocompacto is uniquely Honda — a fun, innovative, and unexpected facet of our larger electrification strategy,” Jane Nakagawa, vice president of the R&D Business Unit at Honda, said in a press release.
Honda Motocompacto: Features
If you’re looking for a vehicle for “getting around cityscapes and college campuses,” that’s exactly what Honda intends for the Motocompacto, it said.
Designed for “rider comfort,” the Motocompacto comes with a “cushy seat, secure grip foot pegs,” and even a bit of storage capacity for small belongings. There’s also a digital speedometer, a charge gauge, and a handle for carrying the folded-up vehicle.
Riders can adjust other personal settings, such as lighting and different ride modes, using a phone app that connects to the e-scooter via Bluetooth. Honda claims to have earned 32 patents with the design, and said, “It’s easy to take along in a vehicle, on public transportation, or store in tight places.”
That might depend on your strength, however. The Motocompacto weighs 41.3 pounds — nearly twice as heavy as the average non-electric bicycle. So carrying the e-scooter for long distances would likely be a chore.
“Motocompacto is easy to use and fun to ride but was also designed with safety, durability, and security in mind,” Nick Ziraldo, project lead and Honda’s design engineering unit leader, said in the press release. “It uses a robust, heat-treated aluminum frame and wheels, bright LED headlight and taillight, side reflectors, and a welded steel lock loop on the kickstand that is compatible with most bike locks.”
Honda Motocompacto: Specs
- Motor Type: Permanent magnet, direct drive
- Peak Output: 490 W
- Torque: 11.8 lb.-ft./16 Nm
- Drive: Front-wheel drive
- Max Speed: 15 mph
- Battery Capacity: 6.8 Ah
- Charge Time: 3.5 hours (110 V)
- Range: Up to 12 miles
- Wheelbase: 29.2″
- Length: (ready-to-ride / folded) 38.1″ / 29.2″
- Height: (ready-to-ride / folded) 35.0″ / 21.1″
- Width: (ready-to-ride / folded) 17.2″ / 3.7″
- Seat Height: 24.5″
- Weight: 41.3 lbs.
Honda Motocompacto: Pricing & Availability
So what if the Motocompacto looks like a poorly designed riding lawnmower?
As the above YouTube ad makes clear, Honda expects owners to quickly fill up the vehicle’s blank canvas with decals, stickers, and skins. Some of those options will likely be available directly from Honda, which said it would drop a line of accessories with the Motocompacto, including a helmet, backpack, and apparel.
The e-scooter becomes available in November at Motocompacto.Honda.com and at Honda and Acura automobile dealers. The MSRP comes out to just under $1,000. That’s half the price of GearJunkie’s pick for the best folding e-bike, the ET Cycle F1000 Electric Fat Tire Bike. It’s also much cheaper than the Katalis Spacebar, a similar vehicle from Indonesia that costs over $3,000 and offers greater power, zipping up to 31 mph with a 37-mile range.
But plenty of consumers are looking for lighter and cheaper EV options. Perhaps Honda’s boxy EV will find its audience this time around.