Are electric scooters the next big thing?
Four-wheeled EVs made quite a splash at the Paris Motor Show. But their 2-wheeled counterparts stole the show. Looks like battery-powered scooters are ready for prime time.
Electric scooters, such as this MINI Scooter E Concept, may prove to be more popular than their 4-wheeled counterparts. By some estimates, over 460 million electric bikes, motorcycles and scooters will be sold in the next six years.
Auto shows have traditionally been a forum for manufacturers to display their newest, wildest creations — no horsepower figure too lofty, no construction material too exotic and no design too bizarre. Over the last two years, however, wickedly fast vehicles have taken a back seat to so-called green machines, eco-friendly automobiles that are less about performance and more about reducing their carbon footprint. Some automakers at this year's Paris Motor Show have taken that theme to a new extreme.
As the car industry invests billions of dollars in the emerging electric-car market, others see a more immediate payoff in electric scooters and other battery-powered 2-wheelers. Sure, nearly every carmaker has some kind of all-electric or gas-electric concept on display. But this year, a number of manufacturers, most notably Renault, MINI and smart, saw more benefit in going 2-wheeled versus 4-wheeled.
One reason is that while the questions still remain whether consumers will embrace electric cars and at what price, the market for electric 2-wheelers has already taken off, especially in emerging nations. In fact, a recent study by Pike Research, a clean-technology market research firm, estimates that 466 million electric bikes, motorcycles and scooters will be sold worldwide over the next six years.
Now, before you gearheads balk at the idea of hopping on a Vespa-like 2-wheeler and tangoing with rush-hour traffic, you might want to examine the specifications on these flyweight eco-fighters first.
Take the Renault Twizy, for instance. While its name might be ridiculous, the scooterlike electric pod car with two seats is equipped with a 20-horsepower electric motor that can scoot it to a top speed of 47 mph. If that's too fast for your taste, Renault says that it plans to build a variant with a 9-horsepower engine that reaches a more manageable top speed of 28 mph. Even more importantly, it will take just 3.5 hours to top off the Twizy's lithium-ion battery pack. So far, there's no word on how much the runabout will cost or when it will arrive in European showrooms. Even so, the recipe should sound good to urban commuters who don't need a full-size vehicle.
As diminutive as the Twizy is, it looks downright colossal when lined up next to smart's escooter electric bike. It is propelled by a 6-horsepower electric motor nestled in the hub of the rear wheel. Smart says the escooter can handle speeds of up to 30 mph and has a range of around 62 miles. It also has smart-phone controls, solar panels that can generate some of the power needed to run the motor, an airbag and blind-spot monitoring.
Smart isn't saying how much we can expect to pay for the escooter or how long it will take to charge, but 62 miles is a lot of runs to Starbucks and back. That is, if the escooter ever makes it to market.
Smart also is showing a concept called the ebike in Paris. Think of it as a bicycle that allows riders to throw in a little electric assistance when their legs grow weary. Technically, its top electric speed is a little more than 15 mph. But if the rider feels like jumping in and pedaling harder, that speed can be increased dramatically. Smart says that lithium-ion battery cells provide power to a 250-watt motor mounted in the rear wheel hub, and that around 2.5 hours of charge time will net the user a solid 52 miles of range.
By contrast, Nissan's upcoming Leaf EV requires eight hours of charging using a special home dock and is expected to travel only 80 or so miles on a charge.
MINI, a manufacturer that has done a good job of portraying itself as building fun cars that are also small and efficient, has unleashed a retro-styled scooter. So far, its Scooter E Concept is just that — a concept, a design exercise. But like the more production-ready 2-wheelers listed above, it packs a lithium-ion battery, can be charged in short order and is downright stylish. Other details are sparse.
While only the three automakers mentioned above had battery-power scooters on display in the City of Light, they are far from the only companies dabbling in low-speed, high-efficiency scooters. Word is that Suzuki and electronics giant Sanyo are creating a battery-powered scooter that will likely be available as early as May. And Honda is planning one, too.
What does all of this mean? The electric landscape could be more 2-wheeled than four.
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hey hugh duty besteh,
that's all us motorcyclists and scooterists are to you is hard to see two-wheeled projectiles?
that's cold, man.
maybe you don't need to be driving? maybe you should get some glasses or pay attention when you're driving your cage?
The body is made of PLASTIC which comes from OIL.
The electric to charge it with comes from either COAL or NUCLEAR. (Sorry. Wind and Solar just aren't feasible now, and won't be any time soon.)
The BATTERIES use either LEAD/acid, Nickel/CADMIUM, LITHIUM ion or Nickel Metal Hydride, ALL of which have negative environmental impact because of toxicity and rarity of materials needed to produce.
The only GREEN going on here is the removal of it from your dumba$$ pocket to Al Gore's and the elite's! If you REALLY want to go GREEN... Get a horse!
Otherwise, get a real motorcycle and learn to ride that instead of one of these mobile speed-bumps. If you have to keep it small for in-town use, get a flippin' moped and stay as far to the right as you can.
Currently own a Buddy 125 cc scooter....
It gets 100 mpg and will do 55 mph nicely
It also has on 60 in a few stretches
Ride able in all but snow and rain storms
just have to dress for the weather