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Bicycles Hopper Electric Scooter

Published on October 5th, 2012 | by Charis Michelsen

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Hopper Electric Scooters — Amsterdam’s Electric Two-Wheeled Taxi Fleet

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Amsterdam is a beautiful city. It’s also a traffic nightmare and therefore full of particulate emissions, and not happy about any of that. Part of the plan to reduce its emissions is the introduction of Hopper electric scooters.

Hopper Electric Scooter

Electric Taxis on Two Wheels

The Hopper program is meant to be very flexible public transportation. In practice, it’s a network of electric taxis, except that the taxis are all scooters instead of cars (this is actually a good call for Amsterdam’s narrow, twisty roads).

According to Hopper’s website, you can catch a ride on one of the zero-emission, super-cute scooters by flagging one down on the street, by calling for a ride, by booking a ride on the website, or by using their mobile app (this last option is not actually available yet, but it should work something like San Francisco’s Scoot Networks). Each ride is a flat rate — € 2.50 — regardless of where you go or how long it takes.
 


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But Why?

Electric vehicles having zero emissions is a no-brainer. Of course it’s better for the environment, of course it’s more sustainable, of course there’s the potential for totally clean power all the way up the chain. Electric vehicles also have fewer moving parts than ICE scooters, and therefore require maintenance less often — if it’s not there, it can’t break.

Scooters, specifically, also make a lot of sense for Amsterdam for two reasons.

The first goes back to emissions — European emissions standards are much laxer for mopeds than cars, which leads to greater pollution potential. Having electric scooters on the street instead of gas-powered mopeds reduces particulate emissions considerably.

The second is the actual streets themselves — have you seen them? They’re gorgeous, but also narrow and twisty and full of lots of moving things, and the one and only time I drove through Amsterdam in a 4-wheeled vehicle, I was sure someone was going to die (probably not me, because I was in the giant metal cage, but still). Scooters and other small vehicles? Way better choice; it’s a matter of tailoring the fleet to the location.

And The Rest Will Follow

Hopper hopes to launch fleets in Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht within six months, and I wish it well with it. Even though inclement weather will sometimes make them a less than comfortable choice, I love the idea of a fleet of electric scooter taxis.

If you’re in Amsterdam, hop on one and let us know how it goes — they’ll be on the streets from 8am to 8pm, and it sounds super fun. Or just let us know what you think of the whole project!

Source: Hopper
Image Credit: Hopper






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About the Author

spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissan, Fuji Heavy, and others. Charis has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She also believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek Captain.



  • Roger

    I have to agree with pancake there on all counts and add that the makers of the Chevy Volt, which does have emissions, consider their creation an electric vehicle and technically it is.
    Though I also have to add that I consider most scooters and mopeds in Amsterdam or The Hague as the biggest noisemakers in town. So much so that I react like you would an ambulance, because I keep thinking they’re right behind me. So I prefer them quiet.

    • Bob_Wallace

      The Volt is an “imperfect” electric vehicle as it does sometimes burn gasoline. But because battery capacity currently limits range having the internal combustion engine does give the Volt the ability to drive long distances when needed.

      Plug-in hybrids like the Volt can be a good stepping stone from 100% fossil fuel powered cars to 100% renewable energy powdered cars.

      GM is developing a pure electric car, a battery powered version of their Spark. It should come to market in 2013.

      GM is working with Envia, a battery developer which has a very promising battery. Envia batteries, in a 100 mile range EV, would make a 300 mile range car. Envia has the capacity and that has been confirmed by an independent lab. They are working to get longer cycle life for their battery. Based on their most recent testing announcement a 200 mile EV would get 90,000 miles before the batteries fell to 80% capacity. Ideally batteries should last as long as the car.

      • Pannekoek

        That’s great. Just let me know when the US converts the entire southwestern desert into a national solar and wind farm. Then maybe electric vehicles will be worthy of being referred to as green and clean. Until then, for every battery charge, there’s still a heap of carbon being burned, spewing pollutants and CO₂, or spent fuel rods needing to be stored safely for 10K years.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Geez, you channeling Oz the Absurd?

          The amount of land needed for wind and solar is insignificant. Solar we can pretty much do just using existing rooftop and parking lot space.

          • Kapitein Pannekoek

            That’s encouraging. I’m not sure retrofitting every rooftop in America will happen any time soon, given the competing entrenched interests and the political situation. And we need a solution sooner than later.

            Unfamiliar as I am with Oz the Absurd, I only meant that until we’re off of carbon and nuclear (or until we are moving in that direction) it seems like a mistake to cheer the arrival of electric vehicles as any kind of solution—especially in the simplistic terms used in the article, and especially where they’re not needed, like in Amsterdam.

            It’s just that, whenever I think of those big, empty, sunny southern states, bound either to the military or the oil industry, I wonder whether they couldn’t benefit by hosting massive energy farms, just as the Saudis benefitted from their oil boom. They could power the world, couldn’t they? And surely it would be simpler and faster to implement than retrofitting every rooftop in America.

            Meanwhile, I’ll pedal my bike, ride the train or bus when I have to, and keep looking over my shoulder for those ‘silent killers’.

          • Bob_Wallace

            There is no “competing entrenched interests and political situation” getting in the way of rooftop solar. Installing solar on residential or commercial buildings, or over parking lots, is a private decision.

            I don’t know what conditions are in Amsterdam, but here in the US we have sufficient generation to charge over 140 million EVs right now. Our grid is less than 40% coal so charging off the grid puts less CO2 into the atmosphere than burning gasoline or diesel.

            EVs work really well with wind generation. Few places really don’t need extra late night which means that there is not much profit to be made from a turbine spinning at night. If the power can be used to charge EVs then it makes sense to install more wind and that will bring more cheap power to peak hours.

            Rooftop solar makes a lot of sense. The panels are right where the power is going to be used, that eliminates transmission lines and decreases grid loss. Furthermore, by spreading the panels over a wider area the effect of passing clouds is minimized.

            Wind turbines need to go where the wind blows. Our best wind resources are offshore and we’re just starting to develop coastal wind.

          • Kapitein Pannekoek

            According to the US Energy Information Administration, 42% of US electricity is produced from burning coal, a total of 87% comes from coal, nuclear, natural gas and petroleum. They also place the burning of biomass and wood under the “renewable” category, along with hydro (though I’d say any source that burns carbon isn’t exactly environmentally friendly).

            Only a puny 3% (23% of the 13% of “renewable” ) comes from wind, and solar on the grid is barely measurable.

            I agree that wind and solar make a lot of sense, but I worry that waiting for individuals to make the private decision to install still very costly infrastructure will take far too long. Government and/or corporate initiative seems more viable to me, and that’s where the entrenched interests are still a huge obstacle.

            The Netherlands, which, in case you missed it, is where Amsterdam is located, is still a bit behind Denmark, Germany and Spain, but we’re blanketing the country with wind farms in order to reach our CO₂ reduction targets. At the moment, we’re still buying a lot of our green electricity from other countries, and this will increase with their capacity to provide it. We’re not there yet, but as a matter of public policy, we’re headed in the right direction, despite Royal Dutch Shell.

            Meanwhile, I hadn’t until now realized that, according to some reports, the total carbon produced to charge an all-electric vehicle is much less than what a petroleum powered vehicle produces on its own. So I’m willing to accept EVs as a parallel path to reducing carbon emissions. As long as they replace gasoline and diesle powered vehicles, and are not just additional vehicles on the road adding to the CO₂ cloud. Now if someone will just figure out what to do with those spent nuclear fuel rods we keep burying.

            Back to the point of the article, I’m still not convinced that putting more electric scooters on the streets of Amsterdam is necessary or desirable. As a replacement for the number of regular scooters on the road, perhaps—though as I mentioned, they are extremely dangerous to the rest of us, as they are nearly silent, and they share the same road space as the cyclists, not the regular roadway.

            The author, who claims to have been frightened when driven through our “narrow and twisty streets” (from within a 4-wheeled vehicle) just isn’t credible. The two photographs she showed as examples are pedestrian-only zones (in one case allowing trams). Government policy has rightly made driving a car inconvenient and expensive. This has ensured that most people rely on their bikes (nearly carbon neutral after the bike is produced), walk, or make use of the excellent public transportation service which is mostly electric already. Even regular taxis are under-utilized here, which makes them more expensive to use than in many other cities.

            The whole Hopper scooter taxi scheme just strikes me as impractical, annoying, and the work of investment chancers looking for “green PR” to make their fortunes.

          • Bob_Wallace

            First half of 2012, coal dropped below 35% in the US.

            Wood and other biomass is carbon neutral. Much of what is burned is waste that would have to be disposed of somehow, this puts it to work as it cycles back into the system. We have three biomass generation plants here that burn lumber mill waste.

            It’s not clear that the government is all that much ‘in the way’. Solar in the US is reaching grid parity in the US, has reached parity in some parts. We do need some tweaks to the permitting process as currently it unnecessarily adds time and cost.

            I’m aware of where Amsterdam is located.

            Are electric scooters quieter than bikes? Possibly. If it’s really a problem it would be a minor tweak to add a bit of noise.

          • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

            i used to be in the same boat as you (regarding lacking enthusiasm for EVs), but i’ve changed my opinion on them due to more education.

            that said, i’ve been car-less for about 8 years, love it, and can’t imagine switching back. bikes, feet, transit, and trains are all nicer in most cases, imho. once in awhile, when i think i ‘need’ one, i rent a car.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bruce-Miller/100000952005408 Bruce Miller

          “How can a country have a world empire when it can’t finance its domestic budget? It’s not possible.”—Paul Craig Roberts

          <!–
          @page { margin: 0.79in }
          P { margin-bottom: 0.08in }
          A:link { so-language: zxx }
          “Had the $650 billions+ spent on
          Iraq, been spent on conventional Solar/Thermal development of South
          Western U.S.A. – Today, Americans would receive a huge ROI (
          “Return On Investment”) in cheap electricity, in place of
          horrendous tax rates to service unpayable war debt to China.
          Americans would be gainfully working, using this renewable,
          perpetual, eternal, clean, radiation free, radioactive waste free,
          domestic, electricity source – to compete in world markets with
          well priced products, to irrigate dry lands, to heat and cool homes,
          and much less foreign oil would have be imported, fewer “Parasite
          Nations” supported. This is the lost “opportunity cost” for
          having Saddam’s scrotum on the Bushes mantlepiece? Shiite eh!”

          P.S., (Oil, gas, wells do go dry, not
          really sourced from an eternal pipe up &Allah’s-ass, as some
          believe – But, the Sun never stops shining, Wind blows forever)

          “Had the $650 billions+ spent on
          Iraq, been spent on conventional Solar/Thermal development of South
          Western U.S.A. – Today, Americans would receive a huge ROI (
          “Return On Investment”) in cheap electricity, in place of
          horrendous tax rates to service unpayable war debt to China.
          Americans would be gainfully working, using this renewable,
          perpetual, eternal, clean, radiation free, radioactive waste free,
          domestic, electricity source – to compete in world markets with
          well priced products, to irrigate dry lands, to heat and cool homes,
          and much less foreign oil would have be imported, fewer “Parasite
          Nations” supported. This is the lost “opportunity cost” for
          having Saddam’s scrotum on the Bushes mantlepiece? Shiite eh!”

          P.S., (Oil, gas, wells do go dry, not
          really sourced from an eternal pipe up &Allah’s-ass, as some
          believe – But, the Sun never stops shining, Wind blows forever)

        • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

          This has already been studied extensively. Relative to gasoline-powered alternatives, EVs are very much clean and green: http://cleantechnica.com/2012/04/18/electric-vehicles-greenhouse-gas-emissions-save-money/

  • Pannekoek

    ODefinitely not a “no-brainer” unless you don’t possess a brain. Where do you think the electricity comes from? From nuclear and coal, which have vast environmental consequences. I live in Amsterdam, where the air is actually very clean. And traffic here isn’t, as you ignorantly claim, a “nightmare”, unless you foolishly choose the automobile to get around. Most people quite happily ride their bike, and what do you think is the biggest annoyance and hazard on the road? It’s reckless scooters, which ride at excessive speed through bicycle traffic and in the designated bicycle lanes. People riding their bikes rely on their ears to hear a vehicle approaching from the rear, so silent electric scooters make an existing problem even worse. There are already too many privately operated electric scooters on the road as it is, and hopefully this business will fail or be banned as a public hazard.

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