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Hours after the official press conference had ended, Audi personnel couldn’t resist the scooter. Glee on their faces, ribbing one another on their level of skateboarding prowess, they hopped aboard the battery-operated device to glide around the stage at the Beijing International Automobile Exhibition.
The fun over, they collapsed the lightweight longboard in seconds, hoisting it easily into a specially moulded tray at the rear end of the Q3 Connected Mobility concept crossover, which is based on the company’s Q3. The tray slid under the vehicle.
As populations of major metropolitan areas increase relentlessly around the world, traffic congestion will be in lockstep.
“It is not just a Beijing or Shanghai or Sao Paulo problem,” Audi chairman Rupert Stadler said in an interview. The cities of tomorrow need urgent solutions today, he said, and on Monday the company presented the notion of parking the vehicle to skirt jams by continuing the trek-to-the-office on the longboard. After spending a couple days mired in Beijing traffic – controlled chaos – its merits become obvious.
The vehicle’s computer, when linked to the driver’s smartphone, would determine the best travel option with a nav tool. If getting out of the car and continuing on the longboard is deemed the better way, the system would locate a parking space nearby for the driver – that is, in a world where everything is digitally connected for drivers.
The longboard can go 12 kilometres on a single charge, with a top speed of 30 km/h. It recharges inside the tray. In scooter mode, the speed is controlled on the handlebar. In skateboard mode, the rider controls the speed with a remote control.
“We expect these cutting edge technologies will be gradually applied to mass-produced models in the near future,” said Zhang Pijie, president of FAW-Volkswagen.
Ford, a company that has repeatedly stated it is transforming into “a product company and a mobility company,” has also unveiled e-bike concepts that can be disassembled and fit into cars.
Stadler said “there is a clear obligation” to provide smarter, environmentally friendly travel options. Vehicles will become increasing electrified and digitalized, he said, adding that the company will put a fully electric SUV on the market by the end of 2018 – with or without a longboard tray.
The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.
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