tl;dw: 125 cc-class electric scooter with battery swapping. It’s nothing new (this scooter’s been around for a couple years now, Lanesplitter covered it back when it was new, and the video’s a year old), but I thought posting someone’s video of real-world usage impressions would be handy.
A lot of the electric scooters I’ve seen, especially in the US market, suffer from one of two (sometimes both) major drawbacks.
The first drawback is that a lot of manufacturers - Z Electric Vehicle and BMW, I’m looking at you, and Vectrix was also guilty when they were in business - install the batteries semi-permanently into the chassis. While they can be removed for maintenance, you can’t take the batteries out to charge, and you have to be able to ride the vehicle to a charger.
For many in apartments, that’s a complete non-starter, which is a shame, as electric scooters may well be the easiest way into electric transportation for apartment dwellers like myself. Using the Gogoro Smartscooter reviewed above as an example, they claim 100 km range at 40 km/h (slow, yes), on a pair of 1.3 kWh battery packs. A 120 volt outlet could charge two of those packs in under 3 hours at 8 amps draw, and that wouldn’t even be that aggressive of a charge rate.
The other major drawback I’ve seen electric scooters have, including every shipping battery swappable model I’ve seen in the US market (at least ones that aren’t bottom barrel Chinese), such as the GenZe 2.0 and Flux Mopeds EM-1, is that many of them are aimed at the moped tier. That means somewhere around 45 km/h or 30 mph top speed, and somewhere around 4 kW max power. While in many urban environments, that’s adequate, a lot of American environments require higher speed capability even on surface streets, with 35 and 45 mph speed limits being common. Really, I’d like to see something like a 50 mph top speed, at minimum - aim at the 125 cc class, not the 50 cc class. (Nothing wrong with aiming at higher classes, although then you start getting up to speeds where you need bulky and heavy batteries for adequate range, and you lose storage space and ease of swapping batteries.)
This thing, though? 6.4 to 7.2 kW power, 95 km/h (59 mph) top speed. That’s adequate (and consider that, unlike actual 125 cc scooters, there’s none of the CVT driveline losses, and no wait for the engine to spin up in RPM).
Their claimed efficiency numbers will result in rather short range (I’d guess 30 miles or less in the real American world), but I think it’ll be fine. In the original usage model Gogoro intended, battery swap stations will be all over the place, and you’d be able to swap in seconds, as the only way to recharge the vehicle. However, they’re warming up to home charging as a way to help them break into cities that are too small for their swapping model (and at CES last year, they showed a home charger), and even in that usage model, I think the short range is still not much of a problem. You’re not going to go long distances on a 125-class scooter anyway, and scooters are small and cheap enough to make it easier to keep one in addition to a car for longer journeys, whereas an electric car may well be asked to do everything for its owner.
There are a few drawbacks, as far as I can tell. The scooter itself costs about $2850 to $3970 depending on trim level... but that doesn’t include the batteries, which you have to subscribe to, it doesn’t seem like you can just buy them. The subscription is based on kilometers per month - the highest tier is about $26/mo and gets you 600 km/mo (with about a 5 cents per km overage) with maintenance included, which seems fairly reasonable, but the fact that there isn’t a way to just buy the batteries outright would be annoying to me, as I’d never use their swap stations (they wouldn’t exist in my area). (Also, unlocking sport mode (which includes the full top speed, otherwise it’s apparently 85 km/h) costs about $8/mo, to counteract the higher power consumption of it I assume...)
That video goes into the packaging issues - it looks like it’s tight for a Taiwanese rider (especially going 2-up), so how bad will it be for American riders? It’ll be a one-seater, that’s for sure, in its current form. (And, it could use some more cargo space, it looks like.)
Still, kinda want, if it were sold here.