Behold the E4U: Would you rather walk?

Des Toups


Managing Editor

Hyundai E4UDon't think of the E4U as a replacement for your car. Think of it as a replacement for your Hush Puppies.

Hyundai's egg-shaped mobility device springs from a companywide engineering contest. One of the winners this year was the E4U -- it stands for Egg, Evolution, Electricity and Eco-friendliness -- which was displayed at the 2013 Seoul Motor Show.

Wrapped in no-sharp-edges bodywork (and looking somewhat like Pikachu), the E4U can reach about 18 mph. The driver (rider? pilot?) controls the battery-powered E4U by tilting forward and backward and by shifting weight from right foot to left. When parked, the rear legs fold in.

While vehicles that fall somewhere between a car and a bicycle may be the answer to urban mobility, they pose questions about how they can be insured -- or even whether they can be insured at all.

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If the E4U ever sees the light of day, it's more likely to face the same kinds of insurance issues as the Segway PT does -- that is, its limited speeds and potential use on sidewalks blur the lines that would normally be used to write coverage.

Mopeds and scooters are governed, for example, through a completely haphazard patchwork of state laws. Some states require registration and insurance and helmets. And others don't.

Some Segway PT owners report they buy liability insurance as an add-on to their homeowners policy, provided they use sidewalks rather than public roads. Some say the Segway is treated as an RV. And still others get coverage with a separate motorcycle policy.

Or maybe Progressive will stand up for the E4U the way it does for the Segway, offering a policy with the actual words "Segway PT" in it.

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