Want a tiny fold up electric scooter for running around town that costs almost nothing, weighs nothing and fits anywhere? The now decade-old 2001 Honda Caixa concept would have been that, had it gone into production. Feeling a little deja vu? This isn’t a new idea. Anyone who considers themselves a Gran Turismo nerd will likely be familiar with the 1983 Honda City Turbo and its matching Motocompo scooter we featured this time last year.
Like the Motocompo, the Caixa also matched a car. The Honda Unibox is possibly the strangest vehicle I’ve ever seen and, thankfully, was never built or even intended for production. More than anything, it resembles a gaming PC that’s had an industrial design makeover and somehow found its way into Dwell magazine. The original Motocompo was powered by a remarkably gutless 2.5bhp 50cc motor. The thing about motors like this is that they can run on a coffee cup’s worth of gas for a week and they tend to last forever. The Caixa would have been powered by an in-hub electric motor that, presumably, got its power from some sort of batteries. I imagine that with current battery tech, a 40-60 mile range would be feasible.
Also like the Motocompo, the Caixa was designed to golf into itself. At least partially. In folded mode, the wheelbase shortens, the seat moves forward, the bars lay back and collapse and the floor boards fold up to create flush sides. The idea is that the Caixa could easily fit into designated storage space in the Unibox’s doors — space that’s there anyways for crash protection — and be easily lifted out to perform short, urban journeys. That Unibox was designed to be sort of an apartment on wheels for inner-city Tokyo dwellers who spend an inordinate amount of time in their cars. Think of the Caixa as its tender, there to enable drivers to venture between car and shore through a sea of traffic.
Obviously neither the Caixa or Unibox was terribly production realistic. The problem is that car drivers probably aren’t prepared to be charged a premium for a secondary vehicle they don’t want, don’t need and likely don’t know how to ride. Without a four-wheeler to be packaged in, the business case simply isn’t there for developing a folding, short-range electric scooter. It too would require a premium for all that foldiness, something which wouldn’t reap practical benefits if it wasn’t going into a designated storage space.