Scooters are fantastic — don’t let anyone tell you differently. Scooters running on internal combustion engines can easily get upwards of 75 mpg, with correspondingly low emissions, and electric scooters have no emissions at all. Added to which, scooters are just super adorable and practical — that nifty little footrest is a great place to store stuff, for example. But say you want to ride a scooter, but you don’t actually want to buy one (yet)…. You’re in luck!
Scoot Networks, one of the companies chosen by the Greenstart cleantech startup accelerator program, is bringing the Zipcar idea to scooters. The startup is offering its services to San Francisco-based companies as of last week.
Electric Scooters, You Say
Users can find and claim nearby scooters with their smartphone, which they then dock onto the scooter’s dashboard. The phone unlocks the scooter and then shows information like vehicle speed (which tops out at 30 mph) and range (up to 30 miles), both of which are ideal for going anywhere and back within the San Francisco area. Once the user is done, the scooter is returned to its parking spot and recharged.
After the corporate client phase is over — and electric scooters have been seen zipping all over town — Scoot Networks plans on making its vehicles available to the general public. Frequent travelers will have the option of a monthly pass for $62, and the single-use rate should be competitive with a cab fare. Scoot Networks hopes to have 20 vehicles by next month and maybe even hundreds before 2012 is out.
Scoot Networks Micheal Keating explains the company’s goals, as reported by Co.Exist:
“We were looking at collaborative consumption and electric vehicles, and hit on the opportunity of using these affordable and efficient electric scooters in a European-style bike sharing system, and adding to that all the smarts and technology you find in Silicon Valley.”
Of Course the Electric Scooters Are in San Francisco
Scoot Networks carefully chose San Francisco as the launch city. Taxis are expensive (which is actually pretty common everywhere), the hilliness makes biking difficult (you go up multiple hills on a bike in a suit and see how well you present), and the actually decent public transportation is still pretty limited. Its location in California is advantageous as well — the state doesn’t require any special endorsement on its driver’s license to operate a scooter one doesn’t own.
As for maintaining lots of scooters, Keating isn’t worried. Sales of scooters — both electric and conventional ICE — are up across the board. The Chinese manufacturer producing Scoot Networks’ scooters makes a high enough volume that each vehicle costs less than $1,000 and parts are readily available.
All of which almost makes me wish I lived in San Francisco, just to try out the electric scooters. Would you hop on one of the super-cute two-wheelers? Let us know in the comments, below.