Toyota releases a three-wheeled electric scooter for walking areas

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Toyota announced an electric scooter with three wheels named C+walk that was developed largely to help folks get around who have a difficult time walking. It's relatively light, it was designed to be easy to operate, and it packs a surprising assortment of tech features.

When we say "scooter," we're not talking about a Piaggio Vespa; the C+walk is closer to the electric scooters that clutter sidewalks in a growing number of cities around the world than something you'd live your best dolce vita on. It looks like it was beamed from the set of a science fiction movie, and the three-wheel layout allowed Toyota to create a riding platform that appears wider than the one on, say, a Lime scooter. While its proportions are unusual, designers shaped the C+walk to take up about the same amount of space as a human.

Power for the C+walk comes from a electric motor integrated into the front wheel that draws juice from a removable lithium-ion battery pack. It has a riding range of about 8.5 miles, and charging the pack takes roughly two and a half hours. Its top speed checks in at six miles per hour, though users can set a lower speed limit. It's also capable of climbing a six-degree slope. There are some limitations: users need to measure between 4'7" and 6'1" and weigh under 220 pounds, so it's off limits to younger kids, NBA players and sumo wrestlers.

Although it's a reasonably basic form of transportation, the C+walk is packed with features that the Corolla you drove in college could only dream of. It beeps if it detects an obstacle, it slows down if a collision is imminent, and it's equipped with a turning speed control function that analyzes the steering angle and reduces the speed if needed. It also has a reverse gear — which your old Corolla hopefully had as well.

Toyota envisions several use cases for its scooters. It's aimed at older folks working in jobs that require a lot of walking, people who regularly need to walk across large facilities (like airports and factories), and those touring a big place like a park. Looking ahead, the company hopes the C+walk will be certified for use on public roads where it will be useful to people who can't walk long distances.

Dealers in Japan will start selling, renting and leasing the C+walk in October 2021. Pricing starts at 341,000 Japanese yen, a sum which represents approximately $3,100 at the current conversion rate. As of writing, nothing suggests the three-wheeler will make its way to our shores. However, in Japan the range will grow with a seated-type model that looks a lot like the electric carts you find in some American grocery stores and a version that can be set up to pull a wheelchair. Both are related to the C+walk and are on their way to production.

If a scooter is too small, too slow, or both, Toyota's C+ family also includes a pod-shaped minicar appropriately named C+pod.

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