The employee magazine
of the Volkswagen brand


For the Last Few Meters –
The Cityskater

From the Last Mile Surfer to the Cityskater – the Innovation Fund II made the micromobility project happen, from conception to serial production. Tobias Ludwig was there from the very start.

They have been with the Cityskater all the way through to production: Tobias Ludwig (left) from the Innovation Fund II team and Heinrich Wiesner, Manager of Innovation Management and Project Manager for the Cityskater at Volkswagen Group Services in Wolfsburg.

It was love at first sight. Tobias Ludwig had only been with the Innovation Fund for a short time, when the Last Mile Surfer came to him in the form of an idea in black and white on an application form. That was in 2013. Now, five years later, the electric scooter is going into serial production in St. Egidien, between Zwickau and Chemnitz in Saxony. It will be called the Cityskater. Tobias Ludwig has seen it all the way through conception and development to production.

Marcus Kunz heads up the Cityskater project in St. Egidien.

What’s the best way to travel home or to your destination from the parking lot, tram stop or bus stop? These short distances – the last few meters – are a piece of mobility that has only gradually gained momentum at Volkswagen. The Cityskater is an important milestone on the way to micromobility.

The one who got the ball rolling initially was Odysseus Andronis. The employee from Volkswagen Design approached the Innovation Fund with the idea for the Last Mile Surfer. Ludwig, whose desk it landed on at the time, was immediately on board. Andronis was eventually able to build two three-wheeled prototypes of the electric scooter using resources from the fund. And the idea gained traction – including among employees, who spotted the little electric sprinter at company gatherings in Wolfsburg and other locations.

One year later, Andronis stepped back a little and Ludwig jumped in. "I simply could not let this fantastic idea go, and absolutely wanted to continue with it," explains the 46-year-old mechanical engineer. He has been at Volkswagen for 15 years. The fund manager became a funding applicant. The objective? To see the electric scooter through the last few meters to series production! The Innovation Fund approved almost one million euros for the remaining work.

This is the Innovation Fund II

This collective agreement regulation has been in force since 2011. The fund provides 20 million euros annually for the development of new business fields to supplement the existing automotive value creation chain. Focal points include mobility, energy, environment. The fund helps to secure employment in Germany. Stephan Wolf manages the fund on behalf of the Works Council; the General Works Council "New Business Fields, Environment and Energy" committee is responsible for it. Tobias Ludwig, Martin Stepper and Taylan Ay make up the Innovation Fund team in Wolfsburg.

"The story of how the Cityskater came about is a great success. It proves once again that the Innovation Fund II is able to develop a good idea to series maturity by promoting the spirit of invention and entrepreneurship among our own ranks. Personally, I am especially thrilled that the Cityskater will secure jobs at Volkswagen. This benefits both the company and its employees."

Stephan Wolf, Acting Chairman of the General Works Council

The next phase began. The five-person team turned many adjusting screws in AutoVision together with Porsche Engineering to fine-tune the lights, the folding mechanism, the horn and the battery. However, they fell short of the electric scooter’s target weight of ten kilograms. In the end, they settled at 17 kilograms. The reason for this includes the decision to opt for a lithium-ion battery, which would provide a comfortable range of up to 15 kilometers. Ludwig tirelessly continued to advocate for the electric scooter. "In addition to company gatherings, we also carried out some clandestine activities in an underground parking garage," he explains. These ultimately paid off. In fall 2017, it was decided that the Last Mile Surfer would be produced at Volkswagen Saxony.

By the time it first stepped into the public spotlight at the Geneva Motor Show this spring, it already had a new name: the Cityskater. The time is clearly ripe for this electric scooter, as shown by several market surveys. Of this, Ludwig is certain: "The Cityskater is an excellent product for today’s market. Customers want it, especially young people. The Innovation Fund’s investment in micromobility is sure to pay off."

In late June, pre-series production started at the Saxon production site in St. Egidien. Serial production will start at the beginning of next year. Around 20 employees, most of whom have disabilities, will then build the electric scooter in a 2,700-square-meter factory at ten separate workstations with no dependency on fixed cycle times. Assembly carts will transport components from station to station. Up to 140 models can be produced in a day. For Marcus Kunz, who has now managed the "Micromobility in Saxony" division for over a year, it’s a good start. "Volkswagen is developing into a mobility service provider," he says." During this transition process, the Cityskater is an important and very tangible step."

Where the Cityskater is built

The site in St. Egidien belongs to Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH and is located about 18 kilometers north-east of the Zwickau plant. Since 2014, some 100 employees have been building tank modules for natural-gas-powered cars, also known as gas racks. At 10,000 square meters, the plant is the size of about one and a half soccer fields. Employees in St. Egidien also build special vehicles in the form of custom conversions or small-series productions for customers like the Saxony police.

Micromobility made by Volkswagen

In spring 2018, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess introduced the Cityskater as an almost production-ready concept vehicle to an automotive trade fair audience at the Geneva Motor Show.

The electric scooter is ideal for traveling short distances in the city. The Cityskater shows how Volkswagen is transforming itself from a car manufacturer to a mobility provider.

The Cityskater…

E-motor 450 watts max. output
Top speed 20 km/h
Range up to 15 km
Weight 11.9 kg electrically powered from the back wheel. Unlike a skateboard, it has one footboard for each foot with its own wheel for the left and right leg. The Cityskater is operated by holding the steering rod and shifting your body weight from one leg to the other, like when skiing. The Cityskater can be folded together for easy storage in the trunk of a car. It can also be carried, like a briefcase.

The electric motor is started using the handle on the steering rod. The same mechanism is used to accelerate or brake. The Cityskater has a top speed of 20 km/h and can travel up to 15 kilometers when fully charged. The lightweight (11.9 kilograms) fits easily in the trunk of a car or under your desk in the office. Needless to say, it also has a front light and tail light, and a horn. The Cityskater is expected to go on sale in spring 2019 and will be available from dealerships, Volkswagen accessories and online.

The concept vehicle –

in those days, still without lights and battery management system. The batteries were located in the footboards and had to be removed for charging.

The prototype

with headlight, tail light with brake light and horn. The battery is located in the steering rod and can be charged without being removed. Weight: 17 kilograms.

The serial model –

with hydraulic disc brakes, a double folding mechanism and more powerful battery cells in the steering rod. Weight: 11 kilograms.