New (American) Electric Scooter Company

Discussion in 'Battle Scooters' started by seraph, Mar 3, 2011.

  1. seraph

    seraph asshole on a scooter

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    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:
    And their homepage has this quick blurb:
    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!
    #1
  2. tortoise2

    tortoise2 Been here awhile

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    USA cost and availability unknown . . but in the context of utility, the Oxygen CargoScooter looks like it has potential.

    [​IMG]



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

    [​IMG]
    #2
  3. JerseyBiker

    JerseyBiker Living the life!

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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
    #3
  4. approachbears

    approachbears 250cc is 50cc too many

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    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.
    #4
  5. techguy

    techguy Scooter Trash

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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.
    #5
  6. JerseyBiker

    JerseyBiker Living the life!

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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! :rofl
    #6
  7. approachbears

    approachbears 250cc is 50cc too many

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    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.
    #7
  8. tortoise2

    tortoise2 Been here awhile

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  9. seraph

    seraph asshole on a scooter

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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.
    #9
  10. JerseyBiker

    JerseyBiker Living the life!

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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?
    #10
  11. tortoise2

    tortoise2 Been here awhile

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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.
    #11
  12. approachbears

    approachbears 250cc is 50cc too many

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    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.
    #12
  13. Bud Tugly

    Bud Tugly Gnarly old curmudgeon

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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.
    #13
  14. mboni

    mboni Been here awhile

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    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.
    #14
  15. mboni

    mboni Been here awhile

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    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).
    [​IMG]

    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.
    #15
  16. approachbears

    approachbears 250cc is 50cc too many

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    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.
    #16
  17. pilotguy299

    pilotguy299 Given up...

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    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...
    #17
  18. mboni

    mboni Been here awhile

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    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.
    #18
  19. seraph

    seraph asshole on a scooter

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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.
    #19
  20. mboni

    mboni Been here awhile

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    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:
    [​IMG]
    #20