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Old 03-06-2011, 06:11 AM   #16
approachbears
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bud Tugly View Post
There are already 10's of thousands of electric vehicles around and have been for many years. Electric golf carts, power wheelchairs, and the little scooters that old and disabled folks drive around in. They all make use of standard size deep-cycle rechargeable batteries.

One thing to check on any electric vehicle is to see whether the battery is available off-the-shelf or is some special proprietary design. Unusual batteries available only from limited sources are going to be a problem in the long run since they are going to need replacement every couple of years.

If the source for new batteries dries up your scooter will just be a yard ornament a few years down the line. The typical and traditional deep cycle battery is only good for 300-400 deep recharge cycles before it craps out and will no longer hold a charge.
We're at a point where the old SLA batteries are apparently the biggest thing holding back the electrics from another plateau of use. There are already many different types of batteries available "off the shelf" even though they are basically proprietary in shape. These include many of the LI based batteries favored over the SLA's for their quicker charging times and magnitude more charges. And limiting yourself to just big, rectangular car-like batteries is foolish for many electric vehicle users. Weight and size are adaptable and we gain a lot by adapting them to our needs instead of adapting our needs to them. Get popular enough and there will be a market. Cars and motorcycles are full of proprietary looking parts, but that doesn't put aftermarket companies out of business. Its actually what keeps them in business.
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:15 AM   #17
pilotguy299
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mboni View Post
Btw, since we're on the topic, I should mention that I'm a beta-testing customer for another American electric scooter company:
Current Motor Company

They're located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the founders used to work in the auto industry. They managed to snag Bob Lutz (father of the Chevy Volt) as an investor and adviser. The bikes do use some Chinese parts to keep the cost reasonable, but they are assembled in Michigan, and the more critical electronic parts are built in-house.

The bike I'm riding has a top speed around 70mph, and a practical range of about 50 miles. Current price for that model is $8k, but you can get $2k off right now as part of a test-pilot program. Oh, and I got 10% off the purchase price via a Federal tax credit, and another 20% off via a State tax credit. There are also cheaper models with smaller battery packs (and thus reduced specs).


The battery is too big to be removable, but a full charge takes about 5 hours on a standard household 110v outlet. The batteries are a standard Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4 or LFP) chemistry, and should be good for about 2,000 to 3,000 charge cycles.

Depending on how you do the math, I'm getting the equivalent of about 300 MPG. That means about a penny per mile in energy costs. My only regular maintenance should be tires and brakes.

This bike is very well suited for urban/suburban commuting, it's got plenty of speed to keep up with 55mph traffic. I've got a few moderately steep hills here in Atlanta, and they're not giving me problems.

They are past the prototype stage, and are currently selling production bikes.

Disclaimer: I'm a happy customer, and think electric scooters are neat, but have no financial stake in this company.
i just finished browsing their web site, and it is a very interesting scoot. i'd be interested in being a test rider as well, but my daily commute is 45 miles each way in 70mph traffic for most of it. although there would be no problem plugging in when i get to work, looking at their specs i'd never even make it to the office.

are they looking for beta testers who are just weekend riders? based on the above I couldnt use it for commuting...
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:41 AM   #18
mboni
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pilotguy299 View Post
i just finished browsing their web site, and it is a very interesting scoot. i'd be interested in being a test rider as well, but my daily commute is 45 miles each way in 70mph traffic for most of it. although there would be no problem plugging in when i get to work, looking at their specs i'd never even make it to the office.

are they looking for beta testers who are just weekend riders? based on the above I couldnt use it for commuting...
Yea, it sounds like your commute is just out of range of this bike. You really need a bit of a safety margin in terms of range, and holding 70mph most of the time will cut your range significantly. Probably 2 more years for battery technology to be ready for you, at least in a mid-sized scooter body. (If you took something bigger, like my Silverwing, and converted it, it would probably work fine, since you'd squeeze more batteries in)

I don't think the test-pilot program has any restrictions in terms of how often you'd ride, so if you're interested go ahead and ask.

Oh, and even if you can't take it to work, it's a great bike for local errands. I go out for food and groceries on mine after I get home from work. Put a trunk on the rear luggage rack and you'll have some nice cargo space. I put a little soft cooler on the tunnel between my knees, and it's great for picking up drive-thru fast food.
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Old 03-06-2011, 11:55 AM   #19
seraph OP
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I almost hate to say it because it sounds like they have a fine product, but Current needs to come out with a more unique design.

Consider hybrid cars. The Prius sells like hotcakes because it's a unique looking car. Nobody wants their hybrid to look like a regular car, so Toyota's Camry Hybrid and Honda's Civic and Accord hybrids fail compare to the Prius. Because it looks like a Prius, and everyone immediately knows Prius = hybrid = eco driver.

Early adopters want all the rewards they can get, including attention. So until Current straps their drivetrain into something more unique looking than (what appears to be) a Honda Reflex knockoff they might have a hard time getting a lot of attention. Practical buyers might be interested, but when has the American 2-wheel market ever been driven by practical buyers?

But they got Bob Lutz, so they're obviously doing something much righter than I know about. And Lutz does know how to stir emotion.

Where this Fido really succeeds is in having such a unique look, it really doesn't look like anything else out there. EVERYONE will stop and look, and it'll just advertise for itself all the time.
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Old 03-06-2011, 01:39 PM   #20
mboni
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Originally Posted by seraph View Post
Early adopters want all the rewards they can get, including attention. So until Current straps their drivetrain into something more unique looking than (what appears to be) a Honda Reflex knockoff they might have a hard time getting a lot of attention. Practical buyers might be interested, but when has the American 2-wheel market ever been driven by practical buyers?

But they got Bob Lutz, so they're obviously doing something much righter than I know about. And Lutz does know how to stir emotion.
Well, I think you're right, but you're also wrong. Vectrix started with their own custom scooter design, and it was rather sexy. They spent something like $200 million dollars of investor's money, sold a few thousand scooters, and went bankrupt.

The guys at Current decided to start small and work up. The initial investment was very modest, and the frame and plastic body were chosen from a high-volume Chinese company so it would be inexpensive (but well tested). It's not a Reflex knockoff (I owned a Reflex before my Silverwing, and liked that body better), but the same body as the Tank Touring Deluxe 150 (and a couple other brands). Custom-designing a new body is expensive, ordering a crateload of scooter shells is not. But they worked on getting the drivetrain right, and that's knowledge that will move forward.

Once they sell a few scooters, and get the technology and the company established, a new body design is in order, and I hear that Lutz is offering guidance on that one. You're right, the initial design is heavy on the pure practicality side, but there's plenty of potential buyers for a small company and a practical ride. Once they grow, and try to snag a real share of the market, that's when they'll have to have something more exotic, and we can hope they will.

Btw, I put a nice 'Electric' sticker on the back of mine, and that alone is enough to get some attention. Especially when I silently pass cars in traffic, going uphill.

And since my first pic wasn't good enough to make this not look like a Reflex, he's another image from today:
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Old 03-06-2011, 01:58 PM   #21
seraph OP
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Originally Posted by mboni View Post
Well, I think you're right, but you're also wrong. Vectrix started with their own custom scooter design, and it was rather sexy. They spent something like $200 million dollars of investor's money, sold a few thousand scooters, and went bankrupt.

The guys at Current decided to start small and work up. The initial investment was very modest, and the frame and plastic body were chosen from a high-volume Chinese company so it would be inexpensive (but well tested). It's not a Reflex knockoff (I owned a Reflex before my Silverwing, and liked that body better), but the same body as the Tank Touring Deluxe 150 (and a couple other brands). Custom-designing a new body is expensive, ordering a crateload of scooter shells is not. But they worked on getting the drivetrain right, and that's knowledge that will move forward.

Once they sell a few scooters, and get the technology and the company established, a new body design is in order, and I hear that Lutz is offering guidance on that one. You're right, the initial design is heavy on the pure practicality side, but there's plenty of potential buyers for a small company and a practical ride. Once they grow, and try to snag a real share of the market, that's when they'll have to have something more exotic, and we can hope they will.

Btw, I put a nice 'Electric' sticker on the back of mine, and that alone is enough to get some attention. Especially when I silently pass cars in traffic, going uphill.

And since my first pic wasn't good enough to make this not look like a Reflex, he's another image from today:
Oh I'm definitely not knocking it as a business decision, it's a great way to go for an upstart: perfect the guts and *then* make it pretty for iPhone buyers. Just not a lot of excitement to be stirred right now with a generic-looking maxi-scooter, while the Fido gets play on gadget and design blogs because it's so unique looking... even though it doesn't exist yet.

Vectrix's timing was also unfortunate, being pretty early entrants into the electric vehicle game and being too early in their lifespan to endure the Great Recession. They apparently had some cool bikes.
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