The Smera: Roller Derby for the Smart Set

smera-diptic“The design concept of the Lumeneo Smera is ideal for urban city commuting, as it is both light in weight and efficient with its electric power consumption.”

The Smera started out in life as the Moulene concept in 2003, compliments of Frenchmen Daniel and Thierry Moulène. In 2006 they founded Lumeneo with the point of further developing the Moulene concept, and voila—we get the Smera.

Weighing in at 992 lbs (450 kg) with batteries, and measuring in at 8 ft long (2.45 m), 4.8 ft high (1.45 m), and a Dolly Parton-like width of 2.6 ft (.8 m), the Smera’s specs suggest a relative sports car pedigree with just the thinnest of design profiles. The company has been making efforts to raise its public profile through appearances at the 2008 Geneva Car Show and the 2009 Top Marques Supercar Show in the filthy-rich municipality of Monaco (which says a little something about Lumeneo’s target market).

The controlled tilting. The vehicle’s integrated inertial system, controlled by central electronics, determines the Smera’s optimal tilting angle and transmits that to the cabin and the 4 wheels. The feel of this tilt is said to be ‘intuitive’, has a 25 degree maximum tilting angle, and requires no training at all.

The cockpit. Lumeneo calls it a “luxury cocoon” that “offers a panoramic look around the city”, which all may be a bit of a stretch, but I could easily go for a spell in the Smera’s snug and uncluttered leather cockpit with the aviation steering.

The redundancy. A nice little fail-safe function, if the Smera’s drivetrain runs into a problem, it’s designed to do the PC equivalent of tapping F8 during reboot—operate in a safe mode on one electric motor to get you where you need to go.
What we don’t

The prospects. The Smera has good specs, but this is what we’ve come to expect from a lightweight vehicle with little room for much beyond a driver and his choice between a passenger and trunk space.

In early 2009, Lumeneo was busy conforming the vehicle for road certification in France and cleaning up other loose ends. According to a couple of outlets, Lumeneo began taking orders in the winter and were set for vehicle delivery by this summer. Any takers? I don’t know, but I imagine that timing, vehicle impracticality, and cost are coming together in a perfect storm to derail Smera sales.

You have to admit, at €24,500 this is one pricey roller skate. This is especially so in a gasping economy. The company claims to have plans to begin selling the Smera in other European cities in 2010, but hopefuls in the US shouldn’t hold their breath: its 4 wheels rule out the much easier motorcycle classification.