The first two things I thought of when news releases about new mobility vehicles gaining support from Ford and BMW were my Mom’s 3-wheel bicycle she’d ride around in her senior citizen’s community in Florida and Edd China’s Casual Lofa sofa, complete with a gasoline engine, headlamps and a British license plate.
I thought of those vehicles when the Ford Fund Smart Mobility Challenge announced it was awarding £12,500 ($17,275) in funding to Royal College of Art design students Corentin Janel and Guillaume Innocenti for the development of their rideable bench concept called TOD, short for “talk or drive.”
Just moments earlier, I’d received word from BMW Group Research that it was unveiling its electric-powered Concept Dynamic Cargo and Concept Clever Commute vehicles. Clever Commute is a scooter, while Dynamic Cargo is a 3-wheeler that might remind some of Harley-Davidson’s Servi-Cars used by police officers and ice-cream sales staff.
“The way that we navigate our cities is changing,” the Ford Fund notes. “People are increasingly walking, cycling and riding scooters to reach their final destination. There is also a growing need for street furniture where residents and visitors can relax and rest.”
“A rideable bench is a great example of how design can help form the fabric of cities, as it’s something that’s fun, practical and multi-functional,” Amko Leenarts, director of design, Ford of Europe, is quoted. “It’s a clever way to make mobility part of the city, encourage people to interact and enable people to experience cities in a totally new way.”
According to the news release, “ ‘TOD’ is designed as an adaptable system with a static mode and mobile mode.
“In static mode, it is a bench that can be extended to accommodate three people. Accessories such as chairs and corners can easily by added using a plug-in style kit system, while a flat square can be connected to two benches to form a picnic table.
“In mobile mode, the sit-on scooter is for up to two people, with a maximum speed of 20 km/h. A hatch in the middle provides space for luggage, while stretching bands on the back and sides enable users to transport small and long items. Users can locate and book a bench or sit-on scooter using the dedicated app.”
Meanwhile, BMW Group notes that, “In recent years, there has been an increase in traffic in many city centers, and the mobility requirements of the people who live there remain high. In its role as a premium provider for individual mobility, the BMW Group is actively helping to create the liveable city of the future. Here, its approach to mobility also looks beyond the company’s core business.”
And thus, the group’s two latest concepts — Clever Commute and Dynamic Cargo.
Clever Commute folds for carrying on public transport or by other vehicles, or even on an escalator. When folded, the wheels can remain out so the scooter can be rolled along like a suitcase.
Dynamic Cargo offers a variety of modular attachments for transporting loads or children. BMW says there also is an attachment to provide shelter in inclement or cold weather so the vehicle can be used year round. There are bicycle-style pedals for the front wheel and electric power to turn the rear axle.