Kicking the tires on some of the standout Electric Scooters in micromobility.
Electric vehicles are growing their share of the passenger vehicle market and are needed to bring the transport sector’s emissions under control. However, switching drivetrains alone is not the most efficient way to reach net zero. An important component of achieving climate goals will be moderating passenger car usage and incentivizing other forms of transport such as micromobility.
I recently attended Micromobility Europe, a conference dedicated to electric scooters, e-bikes and all manner of other small vehicles. One thing that makes this event so fun is the opportunity to ride, drive or pilot the latest hardware.
While shared micromobility companies like Bird, Lime, Tier and Voi often feature in news headlines, many up-and-coming companies are now designing devices for personal ownership. This introduces the challenge of matching form factor and scooter capabilities to personal characteristics and lifestyle, similar to how a pickup is desirable for some people while others would prefer a compact car that’s easier to maneuver and park.
There’s no single best scooter on the market, but great electric scooters perform well in at least one of the key categories I’m dubbing the four S’s.
Early adopters of micromobility are often environmentally conscious. While the emissions from scooter usage are miniscule compared to many other forms of transport, critics have accused scooters of being disposable hardware that end up on the scrap heap as soon as there’s a minor defect. Estonian e-scooter manufacturer Aike is looking to challenge that perception with its range of devices that are designed to be durable and repairable. The scooters have a 10-year warranty and a five-year warranty on the battery. Some 42% of the parts used are recycled and 92% of the scooter can be recycled when it’s retired.
Increased micromobility adoption requires winning over the hearts of consumers. One way to do that is to design a beautiful-looking product, for which the owner might feel the same sense of pride they do with their car. The M, a new scooter from UK-based Bo, is a stylish product designed by Formula One and automotive industry engineers. The scooter is a statement piece with an aluminum chassis, GPS tracking and AI-based range prediction.
Does switching all or a portion of your transport from four wheels to two significantly complicate your life? Taur, a UK-based company targeting the US market, has developed a compact and attractive folding scooter that can be stored easily. The design of this scooter is enhanced by a feature that is as simple as it is effective — the rider is able to face in the direction of travel thanks to footrests that fold out from the middle of the scooter. The lower center of gravity also means the body of scooter does not have to be as long as other designs.
The companies I’ve mentioned so far are early-stage startups, but there are more established companies working on innovative products. Segway-Ninebot is to the scooter industry what Ford, Volkswagen and Toyota are to the automotive industry. One of the latest scooters they offer is the s90L. While this is designed for shared scooter fleets, it highlights just how many advanced features are being added to small vehicles. The scooter comes equipped with a fisheye camera that enables pedestrian and bike lane detection and can record footage for anti-theft and anti-vandalism purposes. Some of these technological features may be superfluous on privately owned devices, but some may also alleviate the pain points behind micromobility adoption.
Even a scooter that is exceptional in all four categories won’t be able to win over all consumers. Nor should it. Scooters aren’t for every consumer or trip. However, electric scooters are improving rapidly and will be an important tool in addressing urban air quality and emissions from road transport.