VOI electric scooter puts the passenger first – literally


April 15, 2013

The VOI is a prototype electric scooter, in which the passenger sits in an enclosed compartment in the front

The VOI is a prototype electric scooter, in which the passenger sits in an enclosed compartment in the front

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What do you do if you’re a businessman who needs to quickly get from one meeting to another, via the taxi-thwarting congested roads of a “megacity”? You could try a scooter, but what if it’s raining? That’s where the rickshaw-like VOI electric scooter prototype enters the picture. It protects the passenger in an enclosed front compartment, while the driver sits exposed to the elements in the back.

The VOI takes its name from the Vietnamese word for elephant, which is considered to be a safe and reliable means of transportation in that country. Built in Singapore, the vehicle was designed in a joint effort between final-year students from Germany’s Technische Universität Muenchen and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

It’s intended to blend the maneuverability and low cost of a scooter with the safety and comfort of a car – not unlike Lit Motors’ C-1 – although it would be interesting to know just how crash-worthy that front passenger compartment is. The compartment does reportedly add to the rigidity of the chassis, plus it can be swapped out for a cargo box, or even for a compact mobile kitchen for use by street vendors.

The vehicle has a top speed of 45 km/h (28 mph) and a range of approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) per charge. Besides its use for beating the traffic in metropolises, it could also find use as a form of “last mile” transportation, ferrying passengers between their destinations and public transit systems such as trains.

Created as part of Technische Universität Muenchen’s TUM CREATE program, the VOI was recently unveiled at the 3rd Taiwan International Electric Vehicle Show. There’s no word at this point on the possibility of commercial production.

It can be seen being put together and tried out in the video below.

Source: Technische Universität Muenchen

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

So the guy who is supposed to do the steering and leaning isn't near the center of gravity and the passenger will now be the first person to get hit and will also bake in the sun with this canopy and won't get any relief from the wind?

Ian Mitko

I understand that this vehicle is for emerging markets, and I'm very interested in enclosed, tandem vehicles, but I just think this concept has too narrow a niche.


Give it pneumatic propulsion and a high efficiency no crank ICE compressor and you will have a real nice power rickshaw.


re; Mitko Ian

When I ride a bike or motorcycle I don't lean to steer, I steer the bike and lean with it. Being behind or in front of the center of balance is not a problem.


What I see is a big sail with a moment arm that will make that thing a nightmare as soon as you see some gusty winds blowing against it. The added weight of a passenger will help it be somewhat stable, but can you imagine a lone driver/rider with an empty cab up front trying to manage that thing against a stiff crosswind? If it doesn't end up on its side it will be all over the road every time a gust of wind hits it.

No thanks...

Tony Morrill

I do things like this and it looks like a good design for congested areas.

Ian you don't know what you are talking about.

Slowburn pneumatic power is so ineff and range limited to be a bad joke. Maybe read some more objective sites on it.


Well, won't be able to call them tuk-tuks.

Captain Obvious

re; jerryd

I suggested a pneumatic ICE hybrid with a phenomenally efficient engine and not dependent on heavy, expensive, dangerous, and short lived batteries.

You accuse me of lack of objectivity.


The naysayers, again, are alive and well.


As it is, the design is fine. The real question is can it be produced cheaply enough to compete in the market it is designed for.

Jay Lloyd
Considering that rickshaws are considered a form of degradation and now illegal in many Asian places I see a repeated pattern here. The worker is expected to work in the rain, heat and cold, while the business man is sheltered and served. May i suggest that the rickshaw driver cut the head off of the business person and use it for a soup bowl? Value the worker not the business person. Jim Sadler

One of the things I prefer about riding a motorbike over a car in congested areas is how much easier it is to see what's going on around me when out in the open.


Why can't the driver have a canopy too? Or is that not degrading enough?

Jean Lamb

I'm surprised by all the negative comments, I think it looks great.

I have a young family, and need a little run-around, and if it is sold at a low enough price, I want one.

Rory McMullan
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