Smart Electric Scooter
Electric vehicles, primarily two-wheelers, have always been associated with negative perceptions of being slow, clunky and delicate. From a design perspective, electric vehicle design have either steered towards organic forms, reflecting their inherent aspect of being driven by clean fuel, or have occupied the other end where designs are too futuristic and relatable. Both are uninspiring and unrelatable for the end consumer.
Hence the brief for the S340 was to create a sporty and contemporary styled scooter. The ground-up design approach offered the possibility of looking at high-performance motorcycles when it came to the proportions and design details. The design of race vehicles has influenced the overall construction of cycle and chassis parts. Keeping the vehicle light was a constant goal while designing each part.
The form language of the S340 is clean yet sporty, something which was always a constant factor through all the stages of design. The proportions of the vehicle are compact, while still keeping it more usable than existing scooters in the market. Each part of the S340 has been designed to work well on its own, as well as with the other parts as a complete vehicle.
UNIQUE PROPERTIES / PROJECT DESCRIPTION:
The S340 is a smart electric scooter designed completely from scratch and not based on any existing two-wheeler platform. A ground-up approach offers more design flexibility. Being an electric vehicle, the S340 had to accommodate and package a 15 kg battery pack and also manage to keep the overall vehicle weight minimal.
The S340 features a unique hybrid aluminum chassis. The battery pack also doubles up as a structural member making it a multi-functional part. This unique design approach keeps the vehicle weight considerably lesser than other vehicles in the same performance class yet offer better structural rigidity.
OPERATION / FLOW / INTERACTION:
The S340 can be operated just like an other gearless two-wheeler available in the market today. A powerful lithium battery pack and a high power BLDC motor help in offering instant torque allowing to accelerate faster than other scooters in the same class. This makes urban stop and go riding conditions effortless.
Lower weight, optimized front-rear weight ratio, zero lateral offset, rear mono shock suspension and a low center of gravity offers a substantial improvement in ride dynamics compared to other scooters.
The S340 comes equipped with an intuitive touchscreen dashboard which offers a host of smart features like on-board navigation, riding modes, personalized profiles, on-board diagnostics, over-the-air updates and mobile syncing capability. All vehicle and ride details can be accessed remotely via a dedicated mobile app. The S340 can be charged using a dedicated smart charger designed and developed by Ather.
PROJECT DURATION AND LOCATION:
The project started in October 2013 in Chennai,India. It was exhibited at the Surge Conference on Bangalore, India in February 2016. The S340 will be in production by 2017.
FITS BEST INTO CATEGORY:
Vehicle, Mobility and Transportation Design
PRODUCTION / REALIZATION TECHNOLOGY:
The vehicle has a hybrid (Aluminium+Steel) chassis that is lighter yet stronger.The materials are used for the purpose of integrating parts of the vehicle (the battery pack, the motor etc.) into the chassis as structural members. Cycle parts like the wheels, swingarm and pulleys are made in Aluminium. The body parts use ABS and textured Polypropylene to get the best of both finish and durability. The final drive belt is Carbon Fibre, which is noiseless, smooth in operation and lightweight.
The design process for the vehicle has blended both the traditional automotive design process and the latest prototyping techniques. Selection of the final design theme was carried out by shortlisting sketches and validated further through the medium of a full-scale clay model.
SPECIFICATIONS / TECHNICAL PROPERTIES:
Length X Width X Height: 1770mm X 700mm X 1200mm
Seat Height: 765mm
Scooter, Electric, Automobile, Mobility, Smart, Motorcycle, Bike, Contemporary, Connected
Extensive one-to-one interviews with existing electric vehicle users and prospective customers were used to identify key pain points and design feedback. Initial research also helped in understanding consumers perspective of a smart electric vehicle ecosystem. These insights helped in fine tuning the design concepts.
Post design development, the S340 was subject to focus groups with the objective to validate consumer relevance of the concept and the design - to understand consumer evocations to the concept, feeling and expectation it evokes - explore the motive identity of the concept - its emotional canvas, visualizations, appeal and assets.
The group comprised of male and female participants in a 2:1 ratio from the target audience. The research was conducted across multiple cities in India.
The research validated key design aspects of the S340 with positive results. The sleek, clean and futuristic design resonated with the participants. The design validation of the S340 impacts all the elements designed and built around the product. This will include the charging pods, experience centers, mobile application, user interactions on digital touch points and accessories.
After studying the existing range of electric scooters in the market, it was found that those suffered from issues like inferior quality, poor design and obsolete technology. Thus, it made no sense positioning the S340 among the same. Hence, a conscious decision was made in terms of positioning the S340 as a better alternative to existing petrol-engined scooters, which are satisfactory in terms of all the above factors.
The S340 and the ecosystem around it have been developed to address things like trust issues with electric vehicles, range anxiety and customer service.
The same regulatory norms as the ones for Indian automatic two-wheelers apply to the S340 as well, and due care has been taken to design the vehicle to comply with these regulations while retaining its original design philosophy and character.
The availability of certain parts, or the technology needed to manufacture the same, and cost factors were essential guidelines in the design of the S340, and not restrictions. The design of the S340 went through stage-wise updates, owing to factors like production feasibility and quality control from a fit & finish perspective. But it was made sure by the design team that the proportions or details would not be lost in the process.
The challenge in designing this vehicle from scratch included things like creating new proportions and packaging, making it stand out from the current crop of two-wheelers in India, ensuring usability and good ergonomics, and finally positioning it as a premium product.
TEAM MEMBERS (7) :
Designer: Shantanu Jog, Designer: Swagat Rath, Design Engineer: Bikash Jyoti Biswas, Project Co-ordinator: Arun Vinayak, UI/UX Designer: Harish Kumar, CEO: Tarun Mehta and CTO: Swapnil Jain