Toyota launches compact scooter
Toyko, August 3, 2008
Toyota Motor Corporation has unveiled its latest two-wheeled wonder - a compact scooter it hopes would make walking fun for healthy folk, easier for the creaky-kneed and lure children into buying cars later in their lives once they discover fun with wheels.
The ’Winglet’, which has a body the size of an A3 sheet of paper, an electric motor and a bundle of sensors that give the rider stability and security, is still under development and not for sale.
Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, did not say when it expected to start selling the Winglet, or how much it would cost.
’We first have to gauge the reaction of the people,’ said executive vice president Takeshi Uchiyamada, who conducted his own ad hoc market research, asking reporters how much they would pay for the gadget.
The Winglet comes in three sizes varying in height from 46 cm (18 inches) to 1.13 m (3 ft 8 in). All three models are about 18 inches wide and 10 inches long.
The largest model is tall enough for an adult to hold onto a control handle used to change directions and spin in a circle. The mechanism for ’driving’ it is similar to a Segway, by shifting the body weight to move forwards and backwards.
Toyota said the Winglet’s main sell was its stability and compactness. The shortest model, which frees up the hands and can be manoeuvred with movements akin to skiing, weighs just 9.9 kg (22 lb) -- light enough to be carried onto trains, it said.
And unlike the Segway, which has bigger wheels that could get in the way in a tight space, the Winglet’s wheels are tucked neatly under the feet, making navigating a crowd much easier.-Reuters