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Japanese firm builds car the size of a laptop

Four wheel, electric tablet can go up to 16 km/h and travel for an hour

Published: October 13, 2016, 10:25 PM
Updated: October 17, 2016, 4:34 AM

walkcar

A Japanese startup founded by an engineer has unveiled a completely portable four-wheel electric conveyance that allows users to zip around pedestrians and vehicles alike in congested city conditions.

Called the Walkcar, the laptop-sized carbon-body tablet that weighs just 2.8 kg can be carried around in a computer bag or a backpack, and brought out when transportation is needed.

It will be available for pre-order from its maker’s website (cocoamotors.com) starting Oct. 21. The price is set at $1,280 US (about $1,700 Canadian) and product starts shipping in September 2017

Cocoa Motors calls the 13-inch “tablet” as a car, reporting it can reach a top speed of 16 km/h and provide riding time of about an hour on a full charge (which also takes about an hour). A disclaimer on the website notes that the hour’s riding time is based on the ideal condition of a speed of 6 km/h over smooth and dry surface conditions, with a rider weighing 60 kg (the company states it is designed for riders 40-80 kg who can maintain proper posture, meaning it isn’t ideal for people who require walking aids).

Working much like a Segway or hoverboard (although considerably easier to master than the latter), the vehicle is steered by the rider’s weight shifts, and stopping is handled by just stepping off.

Its inventor, Kuniaki Sato, reportedly came up with the idea of a “Car in a Bag” when he moved to Tokyo to attend university and observed that car-travel, as he was used to in his hometown, was virtually non-existent in the downtown core of the city. Yet, walking those long distances you could cover in a car would be exhausting. He designed the concept and the software to make it work and the Walkcar was born.

The company will ship it to 13 countries in four continents, but expanded distribution plans are already in the works.