Mount­ing an elec­tric charge

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

buy or run a sec­ond car. He is call­ing on gov­ern­ments to sup­port elec­tric scoot­ers with in­cen­tives.

‘‘There should be a re­bate like so­lar pan­els. They could also make them cheaper to reg­is­ter, or take off the stamp or im­port duty, or de­sig- nate spe­cific scooter lanes, some­thing that will en­cour­age peo­ple to use them,’’ he says.

The EVT 168 ($4290) and 4000e ($3995) elec­tric scoot­ers use an elec­tric hub mo­tor that is part of the rear wheel.

Power comes from four sealed bat­ter­ies which charge overnight from a 240-volt power point.

Th­ese 50km/h scoot­ers are re­stricted from ex­press­ways and high­ways, but there is no such re­stric­tion on the big­gest elec­tric scooter, the Vec­trix maxi scooter, which costs $13,950 and re­quires a mo­tor­cy­cle li­cence. It uses a nickel metal hy­dride bat­tery pack with an es­ti­mated life of up to 10 years based on 8000km a year.

Vec­trix Scoot­ers Aus­tralia manag­ing di­rec­tor Charles Mann says they had sold about 150 in the past year, but do a lot more rentals than sales.

The Vec­trix is made in Poland with Ital­ian com­po­nents and Amer­i­can elec­tron­ics. Mann says they will add smaller and cheaper mod­els in the next 12 months and con­firms Vec­trix is con­sid­er­ing a retro-fit hy­dro­gen fuel cell that would quadru­ple range. A ROUND-THE-BLOCK ride re­veals so much about an elec­tric scooter. First and fore­most, there is no noise, so driv­ers and even pedes­tri­ans won’t know you are com­ing.

It feels weird to be mov­ing through the traf­fic but mak­ing no noise. It’s also fun.

I rode the Nope J50 Neo which has a mod­ern ap­peal and the Retro, which looks iden­ti­cal to a clas­sic Vespa ex­cept for the con­trol box in place of an ex­haust pipe. Both have a 1500-watt DC brush­less elec­tric mo­tor in the rear wheel hub.

The scooter will hit 40km/h in about 12 sec­onds and in an­other cou­ple of sec­onds it hits its max­i­mum of 45km/h. That’s on level ground with my 75kg on board and no head or tail wind.

It takes about eight hours to fully charge one and it has only 50-70km of range.

Apart from the lack of noise and range, it’s like most scoot­ers: the small wheels and short sus­pen­sion don’t cope well with pot­holes or grooves; there is plenty of lug­gage space un­der the seat for small shop­ping ex­cur­sions; and with the mo­tor in the rear wheel the rear brakes have more ef­fect than the fronts.

When you ac­ti­vate the brakes, the mo­tor im­me­di­ately stops work­ing and you coast to a si­lent stop.

Sam­son claims elec­tric scoot­ers re­quire al­most no main­te­nance apart from charg­ing, brake pads and tyres.

‘‘It’s as re­li­able as a fridge,’’ he says.

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