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Old 03-03-2011, 12:04 PM   #1
seraph OP
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New (American) Electric Scooter Company

Well, right here in eco-Seattle a new electric scooter company is sprouting up: Fremont Motors. They're unveiling their first concept here in the Emerald City tomorrow. I'd love to attend, but a friend is visiting this weekend and I may not be able to.

It's founded by the owner of Soundspeed Scooters, a local scooter repair shop/electric scooter dealer. (Soundspeed is located in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood, thus the company name). They've been selling electric scooters for a while, including electric conversion vintage Vespas.

Their "About Us" page has this to say:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fremont Motors[/url
Fremont Motors started as a result of Jeb Gast’s search for the electric scooter that could compete with modern gasoline scooters. Electric scooters offer advantages to gasoline scooters in a number of ways. They are clean, low-maintenance, reliable, quiet, and fun to ride. In 2008, after starting Soundspeed Scooters in Seattle as a dedicated electric scooter shop, Jeb quickly began to realize that the scooters he could offer his customers were not the quality of design and build that he or his customers expected. Currently you cannot find a simply designed electric scooter. Most are overly complicated electric conversions of poorly made gas scooters with low top speeds, limited range, long charging times and poor build quality. They also have yet to appeal to urban commuters.

Jeb wanted an electric scooter that could give the rider everything they were looking for along with an elegant, simple design. He thought you should be able to carry everything you need in the glove-box and be able to charge your battery in your 3rd floor apartment without dragging the scooter up the stairs or hanging an extension cord out the window. It should be comfortable, easy to ride, and look great doing it.

While these ideas seem obvious, Jeb couldn’t find one to sell. So, he set out to make it himself.
And their homepage has this quick blurb:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fremont Motors
50 years ago, scooters were built with real metal, could take some abuse, and an average joe could perform basic maintenance. We really want to bring that back. With Fido, we combined reliability, loyalty and a sense of style to do just that.
Certainly an appealing idea! I will say their battery idea (removable for recharging) sounds a lot like the recently-unveiled Zero XU, which sacrifices battery power & capacity compared to other Zero models in favor of it being hot-swappable.

If I have a chance to get to the release party tomorrow I will do so and report back what I can, but that's pretty unlikely. Orin from Scootin' Old Skool says he'll be there, so check out his site this weekend.

I am VERY excited to see what they've come up with and how feasible it is. I'd ride a stylish, metal-bodied, home-repairable-but-won't-need-it electric scooter made by a company based where I live. Hell yeah!
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Old 03-03-2011, 01:32 PM   #2
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USA cost and availability unknown . . but in the context of utility, the Oxygen CargoScooter looks like it has potential.





The PumaCycles Roadstar 2000W may also be a good "grocery getter".


tortoise2 screwed with this post 03-06-2011 at 07:39 AM
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Old 03-03-2011, 03:09 PM   #3
JerseyBiker
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Very cool!

I have a question for you folks who are into the electric scoots.

First, I know little about the state of the art in electric vehicles other than I think they are neat and would love to have one. Keep that in mind.

If I understand correctly, the limitation for distance now is the battery capacity, not the motors. Motors are pretty simple and not much more will be done to them. The increase in speed and/or distance will come from better batteries and perhaps lighter weight vehicles. (Please tell me if this is incorrect.)

If the above is basically correct - then, if I were to buy a scooter that can go, say 40 mph for 30 miles before being recharged, can I expect that, as battery technology improves, in a few years I'll be able to buy a new battery and go 40 mph for 50 or 60 or more miles? Hopefully I'm being clear on what I'm asking.

Basically I'm wondering if I were to buy one now, will I always be limited by todays technology or will I be able to "upgrade" something easily to the newest technology. I'd sure love to have an electric scoot and upgrade it every few years for better speed and distance. That will be especially true if the Seattle folks bring out something metal and looking like a Vespa.

TIA!

David in NC
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Old 03-03-2011, 05:23 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JerseyBiker View Post
Very cool!

I have a question for you folks who are into the electric scoots.

First, I know little about the state of the art in electric vehicles other than I think they are neat and would love to have one. Keep that in mind.

If I understand correctly, the limitation for distance now is the battery capacity, not the motors. Motors are pretty simple and not much more will be done to them. The increase in speed and/or distance will come from better batteries and perhaps lighter weight vehicles. (Please tell me if this is incorrect.)

If the above is basically correct - then, if I were to buy a scooter that can go, say 40 mph for 30 miles before being recharged, can I expect that, as battery technology improves, in a few years I'll be able to buy a new battery and go 40 mph for 50 or 60 or more miles? Hopefully I'm being clear on what I'm asking.

Basically I'm wondering if I were to buy one now, will I always be limited by todays technology or will I be able to "upgrade" something easily to the newest technology. I'd sure love to have an electric scoot and upgrade it every few years for better speed and distance. That will be especially true if the Seattle folks bring out something metal and looking like a Vespa.

TIA!

David in NC
You're basically right. There could be some lighter materials like carbon fiber, titanium and such, but mostly its the battery that limits things. The motors in higher end electrics are advanced and often near maintenance free, but the motors have been figured out for a century now.

I've ridden a Zero Cycle dual sport and street bike. They weren't scooters, but they were still electric. They'll do a decent 65mph will run for 30 or so miles of charge. Acceleration is excellent and the only sound is the tires and the chain. It really was riding at its peak--a man going fast through nature with minimal interference from a machine. The battery is one big box and its easy to see how new technology would mean more or less putting in new batteries into the same space.

If you have cash to spend or live in a state like Colorado with big tax breaks for electrics, the Zero Cycle would serve you well.
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Old 03-04-2011, 12:32 AM   #5
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If you are looking at buying an e-bike today... Brammo and Zero and the big players today...that I am aware of.

Brammo bikes range on the speed and distance. the battery life is dependent on a lot of factors.

Enertia = 20-40 miles at 30-60 MPH = $7,995 USD
Entertia Plus = 40-80 miles at 30-60 MPH = 8,995
Empulse 6.0 Range 60 miles / 90km @ 100 MPH = 9,995
Empulse 8.0 Range 80 miles / 128km @ 100 MPH = 11,995
Empulse 10.0 Range 100 miles / 160km @ 100 MPH = 13,995

The Empluse is said to accelerate faster than almost every gas bike on the market.

I have no financial interest in any of these companies, I just read alot of forums.
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Old 03-04-2011, 04:59 AM   #6
JerseyBiker
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Thanks for info guys! I would love to have one but the prices are still too high for the distance they can go. I'd have to dedicate it to just around town and can't justify that cost.....yet!

On a related note - I've seen bicycles with the motor in the front hub so that must not be a problem. Makes me wonder why, for electric cars, they don't just put a motor in each hub?

If I had stupid money to spend, I'd love to buy a smart car that had a blown engine - take out the motor and make it an electric car. But I don't so I won't!
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Old 03-04-2011, 05:52 AM   #7
approachbears
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Originally Posted by JerseyBiker View Post
Thanks for info guys! I would love to have one but the prices are still too high for the distance they can go. I'd have to dedicate it to just around town and can't justify that cost.....yet!

On a related note - I've seen bicycles with the motor in the front hub so that must not be a problem. Makes me wonder why, for electric cars, they don't just put a motor in each hub?

If I had stupid money to spend, I'd love to buy a smart car that had a blown engine - take out the motor and make it an electric car. But I don't so I won't!
Don't give up on cost just yet. Research your state and the fed's tax rebates. Some states give enough tax incentives that electric motos could cost half the list price.
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Old 03-04-2011, 07:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seraph View Post
Fremont Motors. They're unveiling their first concept
Seattle KING 5 report.

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Old 03-05-2011, 01:04 AM   #9
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Thanks, tortoise2! Did not see KING's coverage.

I did not make it to the release, but Orin of Scootin' Old Skool did.

His coverage is HERE, but below are some bullets:
-front and rear wheels are the same size, and easily removable
-hydraulic disk brakes on each wheel with easily swappable pads that require little to no adjustment
-battery under floorboard, easily removed, with wheels like luggage, to bring to your apartment/office for recharge
-removable underseat storage carries like a backpack
-30-35 miles on a charge
-target MSRP $5,000
-limited run in Q3 2012

I think it's a really interesting concept. With the sparse design, it looks like it'd be super light when you removed the battery. Interesting lack of mention of top speed, but since all they had was a non-working design prototype they probably don't have drivetrain details worked out.

Really, an electric scooter should require virtually no maintenance. With an electric drivetrain, very little would fall out of adjustment or require upkeep - besides the batteries, which will simply wear out with time and need replacing. All that leaves is brakes and tires, and it sounds like they did consider ease of replacement in mind. Maybe they'll go for tubed tires with split rims like a Stella/vintage Vespa? Makes for extremely easy tire changes.
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Old 03-05-2011, 05:41 AM   #10
JerseyBiker
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if they can bring it to market at $5K and it really will go 45 mph for 30 miles - I think it will be a winner.

The sparse design leave lots of room for folks to customize it and make it there own.

My question - if they only have a non-working prototype, will it every really be produced?
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Old 03-05-2011, 08:21 AM   #11
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Electrics will always be a "tough sell" compared to gas . . especially when factoring in battery and other electronic component replacement costs. $5,000 would buy several China gas scooters at Pep Boys.
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Old 03-05-2011, 08:30 AM   #12
approachbears
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Originally Posted by tortoise2 View Post
Electrics will always be a "tough sell" compared to gas . . especially when factoring in battery and other electronic component replacement costs. $5,000 would buy several China gas scooters at Pep Boys.
I disagree. Honda and Vespa gas scooters already cost the same as several of the gas scooters available at Pep Boys. Yet Pep Boys hasn't put them out of business. There's a reason for that and even the poor college students in my town know to avoid the crap put out by Baja Motor Sports.
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Old 03-05-2011, 04:09 PM   #13
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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.
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Old 03-06-2011, 05:37 AM   #14
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Cool2

Quote:
Originally Posted by JerseyBiker View Post
Basically I'm wondering if I were to buy one now, will I always be limited by todays technology or will I be able to "upgrade" something easily to the newest technology. I'd sure love to have an electric scoot and upgrade it every few years for better speed and distance. That will be especially true if the Seattle folks bring out something metal and looking like a Vespa.

TIA!

David in NC
David, one of the neat things about electric vehicles is that electricity is always just electricity. You can build an electric vehicle that is supposed to be powered by copper strips inserted into a fresh lemon, and later replace the lemons with the latest in lithium batteries. The electrons are still going to work, but you won't have that lemon-fresh smell anymore.

The bigger issue is going to be power and overheating. If you build a bike with a 5kW motor, that 5kW rating means that it starts to overheat when you put 10kW into it. So while you can replace your batteries with something that has more energy storage capacity (driving range), you don't have much headroom to put more power into the system (top speed, acceleration). Most electric vehicles have a little bit of overhead built into the design, so you might be able to run your 5kW motor at 6kW and never have any overheating, but there's limits to how much that'll work.

Of course, you can replace the 5kW motor with a 10kW motor, upgrade the controller too, use thicker power cables, and the rest of the bike is unchanged. If the scooter uses a hub motor, replacing the motor can be as simple are replacing the rear wheel and connecting the power cables again.

There's also some smaller issues with the Battery Management System (BMS) and possibly things like the bike fuel guage. The BMS should be configured to charge your batteries to a maximum safe voltage, and to keep them from being discharged below a minimum safe voltage. If you change the battery chemistry, you may need to adjust these voltages slightly. And your fuel guage may be calibrated based on you having 5kWh of stored energy in your batteries. If you swap out to a 10kWh battery, it'll read empty when you still have 'half a tank' left. Of course, these items shouldn't be too hard to fix.
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Old 03-06-2011, 06:06 AM   #15
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Cool2 Current Motor Company

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.
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