In the realm of personal mobility, the quest for compactness and convenience has reached new heights with Japanese company Shimizu unveiling its prototype e-scooter, the Arma. Touted as the world’s smallest and lightest folding electric scooter, the Arma is not just a transportation device but a marvel of engineering that redefines urban commuting.
Weighing a mere 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms), the Arma’s design is striking in its compactness, folding down to the dimensions of a piece of printer paper. This feature sets it apart in a market crowded with folding electric scooters, where portability is key. The Arma’s ability to fold down to a convenient size enables it to fit in a messenger bag or daypack, or even function as a standalone briefcase, complete with a built-in handle.
While Shimizu’s claim of the Arma being the “world’s smallest and lightest” is bold, there are contenders like the Blizwheel scooter, which boasts similarly diminutive dimensions and an even lighter weight of 8.8 pounds (4 kilograms). However, given that both models were in the pre-production crowdfunding stage at the time of their introduction, it’s important to note that such specifications can be subject to change.
The Arma folding electric scooter is more than just a feat of miniaturization. It’s designed with practicality in mind, making it a potentially ideal companion for urban commuters. Its small size makes it easy to carry onto public transportation, into buildings, or through retail spaces. One of its standout features is a battery-swappable platform, allowing for the quick replacement of a drained battery with a fresh one – a rare convenience in folding e-scooters.
The scooter is powered by a 3.5-Ah 36-V lithium battery, running a 250-W motor. Shimizu estimates a range of 7 to 9 miles (11 to 14.5 kilometers) per battery, with a top speed of 14.9 mph (24 km/h). This combination of range and speed strikes a balance between efficiency and safety, considering the scooter’s compact build. The battery is conveniently located for easy removal and can be charged in approximately two hours using a USB-C connection.
Shimizu has innovated beyond the classic folding mechanism seen in many scooters. The Arma uses multiple joints, allowing it to pack down much smaller. The foot decks fold around the rear wheel, and the handlebars and steering tube collapse to form a compact case. The company reports that the folding process takes less than 30 seconds, with aspirations to make it even quicker in the production version.
In terms of dimensions, the Arma measures 210 x 297 mm (8.3 x 11.7 inches) in height and width when packed, mirroring the size of A4 paper. Its depth, at 3.8 inches (96 mm), is considerably more but still maintains a very compact profile. This size and the scooter’s light weight make it an unobtrusive addition to a commuter’s daily carry.
Additional features include an accelerator and brake button on the handlebars and a central display showing speed and battery life. It can accommodate riders up to 220 pounds (100 kg), making it accessible to a wide range of users.
Shimizu unveiled the first Arma prototype at the Japan Mobility Show and recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund further development. The company aims to test the second prototype in early 2024, with plans to move into production afterward.
For early adopters, the Arma folding electric scooter is available at pledge levels starting at approximately ¥158,000 (US$1109), which is estimated to be 30% off the expected retail price. The scooter comes with one battery, and additional batteries are available for around $211 each.