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It’s not often you see an electric bike that can fold up to the size of a suitcase and fit under a desk. But at CES 2023, that’s exactly what Japanese company Icoma showed off with the Tatamel.
Tucked toward the back of the CES Unveiled, a small preview of the show to come, Icoma had a non-driving model of the Tatamel on display. The side wooden panels immediately caught the eye with an engineer demonstrating its foldable nature. Wheels tucked into the side as handle bars unhinged and folded.
It makes sense that Icoma made a micromobility vehicle fold like a Transformer considering founders Takamitsu Ikoma and Takuma Ogata used to work at Takara Tomy, the company that produces Transformers action figures in Japan.
The Tatamel is more than a last-mile EV. It’s electric battery pack can be used to charge devices, which can be handy in an emergency. The changeable side panels can also give pops of personality. Panels can be wooden, metal or solar. Ogata said the design is intentionally simple, so pretty much square panel can be affixed. On the show floor, Icoma had an LCD screen as one of the panels. Ogata said the side panels can also lift up to act as a makeshift desk.
Last-mile vehicles have seen pulses of popularity over the years but have failed to gain mainstream appeal. Electric skateboard company Boosted became the go-to last-mile vehicles for influencers and Silicon Valley types before shutting down in 2020. Onewheel, a single-wheeled electric board, even though the US Consumer Product Safety Commission is urging people not to ride it. Electric scooter rental company Bird, once a Silicon Valley unicorn, saw its stock price plummet last year, trading for well under a dollar. The e-bike industry may be more resilient to past micromobility trends as the market is predicted to grow to $52 billion by 2030, according to Spherical Insights.
The Tatamel, launching this Spring in Japan, will cost the equivalent of $4,000. Ogata said there are plans to bring it overseas, but a time frame wasn’t given. The motor will be the equivalent of 50cc with a top speed of 25 miles per hour. A torque figure wasn’t given, but Ogata said it would be strong. The Tatamel is ideal for weights of 220 pounds or less.