Here in America, scooters are primarily for fun. Sure, we’re aware of their significant capabilities as utilitarian transportation, but that’s hardly the focus. Perhaps that will change here in the near future. Indian scooter manufacturer Hero has created a concept scooter with a utility that can’t be ignored.
The Hero RNT concept has a laundry list of unconventional features, the sum total of which is a scooter that remains remarkably grounded in reality. Any one of the these things would be welcome on nearly any two-wheeler.
- • 150cc turbo diesel engine
- • An LED headlight you can remove and use as flashlight
- • An oversized alternator that lets the engine function as an electrical generator
- • A front hub electric motor and battery pack — turning the RNT into a hybrid 2WD scooter
- • Multiple cargo platforms, frame extensions and racks to haul stuff
Even though the RNT is just a concept vehicle at this point, the lack of outlandishness gives us hope that Hero actually intends to build it — at least if they can imagine a market for it. As a concept, the RNT is extremely clever without simply being ridiculous. For example, that 2WD hybrid system allows riders to shut down the diesel engine and ride short distances just on the electric hub drive. As people look for more and more economy and utility in a more crowded urban landscape, something like the RNT could be just the ticket.
This isn’t Hero’s first hybrid scooter either. The RNT is their second hybrid scooter concept in recent years. The Leap, their serial hybrid scooter concept, was shown alongside the RNT in its pre-production prototype form. Yet hybrid scooters are sort of a head-scratcher for us. Given that conventional small-displacement gas scooters already get exceptional gas mileage, extending that fuel economy by marginal amounts through the added weight and complexity of a hybrid electric system seems like its deep into the curve of diminishing returns. That seems even more the case when we start talking about a diesel engine like on the RNT. Piaggio tried and failed to make hybrid scooters more mainstream with their hybrid version of the MP3. There are many (myself included) who argue that hybrid vehicles of all stripes are mostly marketing, considering how much efficiency is now possible with diesel engines. Hybrid has become a buzzword — a shorthand for efficiency and sustainability, even though hybrid systems often don’t really deliver on either.
That said, I have to applaud Hero for pushing the envelope here. The RNT is a remarkable reimagining of what a scooter can be. They’ve envisioned something truly rugged and pragmatic and you certainly don’t see that every day. Hero has partnered with EBR (Eric Buell Racing) for US distribution and development. We’re not sure what that dealer network will look like yet, but that collaboration is as fascinating as this RNT concept. Keep an eye on these two, folks. They’re up to interesting things.