Have you ever dreamed of riding around town on a MacBook Pro? You’re apparently not alone: Japanese startup Cocoa Motors is finally releasing its novel Walkcar, an electric skateboard-like device about the size and shape of a 13-inch laptop. The Walkcar is available for pre-order now if you happen to live in Japan.
The concept is simple: a completely electric transportation device that can fit in your shoulder bag or backpack. It’s difficult to categorize the Walkcar — it’s not a skateboard, not exactly, but it’s nothing like what you’d consider an electric scooter, either.
Concepts for the device have been floating around for nearly five years now, and, by all appearances, it hasn’t changed much in the intervening years. And it's just as expensive as you might expect.
The specs — The Walkcar is sleek and compact. That’s its whole gig, after all. The aircraft-grade aluminum body is about 8.5" by 13.6". Cocoa Motors says it’s coated in some sort of “self-healing” paint to fade unseemly scratches and wear-and-tear from riding it all over the city.
The Walkcar is pretty short; you’ll be riding just three inches above the ground. The device comes with two speed modes now: Sport, which has a top speed of about 10 miles per hour, and Normal, with a top speed of about 6.2 miles per hour. Sport will give you about a three-mile range on a single charge, while Normal mode will get you more like 4.3 miles.
All about those sensors — Much like other electric skateboard offerings, the Walkcar operates using advanced sensors embedded in its small deck. Two of its wheels are locked in place and driven by electric motors, while two unlocked wheels at the rear of the device allow for swift turning.
Riders can use just their shifting body weight to execute those turns, thanks to four sensors embedded in the platform. Lean forward a bit to accelerate or back to slow down; moving your body side-to-side will change directions.
The Walkcar also uses those sensors to power its auto-stop feature. Stepping off the Walkcar will stop the device, so it doesn’t keep rolling on without you. Surely this will also work if you happen to fall off while you’re learning to ride it.
Besides being exclusive to Japan right now, there’s another big barrier to entry here: price point. The Walkcar can be pre-ordered for ¥198,000 (about $1,840), which is a pretty hefty asking price for a device that can only take you a few miles at a time.