John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
For those who love riding around town on what looks like a ridiculously large iPod, there is the BOXX.
For those who love riding around town on what looks like a ridiculously large iPod, there is the BOXX. This rectilinear scooter, with its electric engine and “Look at me!” design, seems perfect for urban exploration – just watch out for pedestrians running to plug their headphones into your ride.
The curious vehicle is the product of several years of secretive tinkering by Portland designer Eric Vaughn, who has stayed away from the press enough that a Google search of his name turns up this guy first. People wanting to learn about the status of Vaughn's curious project have had to settle for a news blog that reads so robotically it's like a BOXX itself is writing it – witness this three-line update from November, headlined “BOXX Corp. Invents the Electric Monolithic Motor for two wheeled vehicles 5.27.10.” Excitement!
But the rectangle is out of the bag now. Vaughn debuted the scooter at the Portland International Auto Show in late January, where head-scratching gearheads marveled at its compact, sleek look. Here are the relevant specs:
- About 4 feet long
- 120 pounds
- Exterior made from a single aluminum case
- Top speed around 30 mph (so no driver's license required)
- Fully customizable colors, including pink and orange
The powerhouse of the scooter is an electric “core” that provides 40 miles of travel before a recharge is needed. Vaughn claims that is three times more efficient than the industry standard for similar vehicles. Commuters who plan to roam far and wide can shell out for an extra core to reach an 80 mile threshold; winter customization is available in the form of a heated seat.
In the niftiest touch, the scooter sports two lasers on either side that “paint” a safety lane on the street as the operator zips through traffic. Expect those lasers to be the first thing stolen from your BOXX when you leave it out at night.