The transition to electrified transportation can come across as boring, which, arguably, isn’t all that untrue. Shouty, gas-powered sports cars have been replaced on roads by beige-colored electric crossovers. Electric scooters are ubiquitous now, cavalierly and awkwardly piled up on street corners of any global metropolitan center, serving as last-mile solutions for those unwilling to wait in traffic in the backseat of a rideshare car. It’s hard to remember that electric vehicles can be fun, exciting, interesting, and maybe most importantly—cute. The Honda Motocompacto might just be the cutest little last-mile solution and maybe the most exciting electric vehicle on the market, even if Honda itself isn’t quite sure what to do with it.
The Motocompacto certainly looks like no other electric scooter on the market. Appearing like a secret agent’s gadget from the Spy Kids universe, the all-white box can transform from what easily could be confused as a briefcase to an oddly rectangular sit-down scooter. Unique, if not unfamiliar, the Motocompacto’s form factor could seem a little contrarian in the era of traditional stand-up scooters or sit-down moped ones. I mean, who wants to straddle a motorized briefcase?
Well, it’s because the Motocompacto is a modern reinterpretation of an iconic Honda scooter—the Motocompo. Back in the early 1980s, Honda sold a square-shaped (gas-powered) scooter, meant to fold up and fit in the trunk of its City subcompact hatchback. Even though neither the Motocompo nor the Honda City ever made their way outside of Japan, the outrageously cute form factor serves as inspiration for the similarly named Motocompacto. Heck, Honda has even shown it off in the cargo area of the Prologue EV crossover, surely a nod to this charmingly Ska-filled ad.
Despite whatever retro-mobile inspired the Motocompacto, most will agree it’s a slick-looking device. The front of the scooter sleekly integrates a headlight into its case, and the rear has a simple taillight. The Motocompacto is the cleanest of clean slates, it practically begs for customization, a thing that Honda engineers said they are excited to see. When folded, the Motocompacto almost looks Apple-like in its sleek simplicity.
Of course, the Motocompacto’s party trick (and selling point) is its ability to fold up and be carried around like the suitcase that it appears to be. Before riding the Motocompacto, the user must first pull out the rear wheel and lock it into place. Then, the seat swivels out and also must be locked into place. The handlebar swivels upward out of the Motocompacto’s cavity and, once again, must be locked into place. For the rider’s safety, the Motocompacto won’t function unless all the pieces and parts are correctly locked into place.
I’ll admit that I was skeptical about the Motocompacto’s comfort and usability, especially after seeing the shape in person. It’s a shockingly small thing—Honda says the scooter is only 3.7 inches (94 mm) wide and 21.1 inches (536 mm) high when folded. When the Motocompacto stands at its full glory, it remains fairly petite. The seat height is only 24 inches (610 mm), and the overall length goes from 29.2 inches (742 mm) to 38.1 inches (968 mm). The weight limit is 265 lbs (120 kg), and it produces 0.66 hp (0.49 kW).