Modern Buddy user “cpaden” posted an interesting Electric Scooter Survey and is looking for everyone’s input. Go post your answers there where Cindy will see them, but I’m going to post mine here (and there) because I’m so important and everyone cares what I think.
- Would you consider buying an electric-powered scooter? Why or why not?
I would, but I’m not happy with any of the current offerings. Most are too-scootery without the benefits of a scooter, or too bicycle-y without the benefits of a bicycle. Someone needs to start from scratch and find the right form/design. Something like FIDO is pretty much on the right track, aside from Jeb’s a little too hung up on vintage scooters (as am I, but we need to get over that). I also feel like most of the electric scooters I’ve seen (aside from, say, the Vectrix) skirt registration/licensing/safety regulations and I’m not comfortable with that. More info on electric-powered vehicles here.
- Are there specific features of a scooter that you particularly like or would like to see developed?
Assuming you’re speaking specifically of electric scooters, I think it’s reasonable to expect all the comforts of any modern scooter/motorcycle, but beyond that, I think it’s going to take an additional big innovation to get people excited about them. Airbags, iPhone docks, GPSes, stuff like that seems to be the future, though I don’t know if riders need those distractions. I’d like to see more useful (and well-designed, and load-balanced) storage options. If you can’t bring home $80 worth of groceries, you’re not going to use it for errands. And don’t forget that there’s big money in parts and accessories.
- What speed and distance would you like (within reason) an electric scooter to be able to travel before needing to have the battery charged?
I’m a fan of 150-200cc scooters. I think a comfortable 55mph, with 65 in a pinch, is just about right. As far as range, I’d think you’d want to be able to ‘get out of town’ once in a while. In Chicago, that’s 100 miles, couple hour ride. And of course the ability to get back, being able to charge/refuel away from home, where you might not have somewhere to park for a few hours next to an outlet you’re allowed to use. Maybe that’s auxillary add-on power packs? (Way more weight). But realistically, most people are riding 20 miles or less, each way. So maybe 50 miles to cover a round trip so you don’t need to worry about charging at work? Also (and this is rarely talked about) how long does the battery last? How many recharges? Is it damaging to recharge when partially depleted? Can it be recycled? Is replacing the battery prohibitively difficult or expensive?
- What price would you consider paying for an electric scooter?
If the features are comparable to a scooter, the price should be, too, though a bit of a premium is fair, for the newer technology and environmental benefits. Those might be overrated, you can spin the electric vs gas argument many different ways. I agree electric vehicles are probably better in the long run, but it’s not like that power’s free to the consumer, and even the greenest power sources have their issues.
- How do you currently use your scooter? Work, school, recreational? Do you go nearby or long distances?
I honestly don’t ride much these days, but when I was younger/childless, I commuted 5-10 miles to work every day by scooter, and regularly travelled 50-100 miles for fun, either to a destination or just for the sake of riding.
I think, for me, the biggest thing about electric scooters is just that nothing’s “there” yet. I don’t feel like any product does its job better than a traditional scooter or bicycle. I’m somewhat environmentally conscious, but most modern scooters are pretty low-emissions and like I said, electric still has plenty of envronmental concerns. The ‘economy’ issue, to me, is even less of a big deal, in fact it’s largely bullshit. There are definitely instances where a scooter or electric scooter obviously makes sense (a single person in a scooter-friendly climate or a city with public transportation options is much better off buying a scooter than a car) but I meet way too many married couples with three kids, a Hummer and a Corvette, who bought a pair of $8000 scooters to “save money on gas”. Manufacturers, the media, and consumers all need to get more honest about the ecological and economical repercussions of various forms of transportation, and why we choose them. I’d rather manufacturers were focusing on designing, producing, and marketing a responsible AND amazing must-have product instead of rebranding chinese electric bicycles and expecting people to snap them up out of liberal guilt or conservative reactionary panic about gas prices.