Remember when Daimler announced it would produce an electric scooter? No? Well, we don’t blame you. Here’s a refresher: back in 2010, the German automaker revealed an electric scooter concept under its Smart brand. In 2012, Daimler announced the Smart eScooter would enter production, targeting a 2014 release date.
And then we never heard anything about it. The problem was Daimler signed a partnership agreement with electric scooter manufacturer Vectrix to develop the scooter. The 2014 target date came and went, as did Vectrix which went bankrupt that year. As far as we could determine, the Smart eScooter project died with Vectrix.
But like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the Smart eScooter has re-emerged in a design patent published today by the European Union Intellectual Property Office. The design patent application was actually filed May 14, 2014 and registered two days later but publication of the patent details were deferred at Daimler’s request. Daimler has now cancelled the deferment, releasing the EUIPO to publish the patent illustrations we see here.
From these illustrations, we can see a design that stays fairly close to the original concept but with updates that would have made it close to production-ready. The patent shows a telescopic fork instead of the concept’s single-sided front end. Likewise, the concept’s single-sided swingarm was replaced with a double-sided swingarm, with an electric motor bearing a Smart logo visible on the left side of the rear wheel.
The concept had a smartphone mount instead of a built-in display, so riders would have to use their own device to show vital vehicle information. The design patent has a built-in digital screen which would likely be used to show speed and battery level and other data.
Other production-ready details include a two-piston rear brake caliper, front and rear turn signals, a more realistic kickstand and hand levers, none of which were on the original concept. The back of the leg shield has a different shape than on the concept, though this may have been a result of changing the front-end. The design rendering is missing mirrors, however, but that’s a detail that can be added later, though it’s unlikely the eScooter would have kept the concept’s bar-end mirrors. The patent also has two cut-outs on the side of the body which look like they could be retractable passenger pegs. The design shows just a solo seat, however the original concept had a pillion seat that folds into the underseat storage and this design likely kept that feature.
We reached out to Daimler for comment and spoke to Smart global PR chief Willem Spelten who sounded genuinely surprised by our inquiry, noting that no one has asked him about the eScooter in about two years. Spelten says the eScooter has not been canceled and the company still hopes to produce it but Daimler has not found a technological partner to work with to replace Vectrix. Spelten says there has been no movement on that front.
Curiously, the design patent’s deferment would have lapsed on its own in November, 30 months after the initial filing date. That the EUIPO published the patent today would suggest that someone at Daimler had to have given permission to release the information. Still, Spelten’s comments suggest the project is still indefinitely on hold, and Daimler still owns the rights to the design until May 14, 2019. Unless something changes, however, we are left with just these patent renderings offering a look at what could have been.