Here is one example of how the news of an intriguing product can lead to a local dealership of it. We are talking about the folding electric scooter Stigo, which has been under development since 2007.
Nicolas Zart wrote about this cute thing and how it came to be a few times last year here on CleanTechnica (October 15, October 19, and December 4). Carsten Obel from the e-bike systems supplier E-wheels read this, and a couple of weeks ago Carsten calls me up and offers me a ride!
Stigo takes a shot at solving the last-mile-problem, which in my opinion is a global multi trillion-dollar business opportunity involving products ranging from simple personal electric mobility solutions to autonomous cars and buses to people-carrying drones. Obviously, this folding scooter will not take all the trillions, but might fit right into the puzzle.
If you believe the predictions of Tony Seba, 95% of all personal transportation will be by Transportation as a Service (Taas) by 2030 (by an 80% reduced fleet by the way!) So, this is huge, and anyone who can offer a product to bridge the current flaws of private and public transportation, is looking at an enormous customer base. So, let’s find out if this particular product could get a piece of the cake.
I literally walked into Carsten’s office and stood right in front of the Stigo and asked where it was. I simply did not notice it! It was folded up and stood by his desk and looked like, well, a golf bag. The foot print of this thing is surprisingly small, but still stands firmly and upright, due to a small set of trolley wheels that shoot out when folded.
What a relief. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the quality of this product is superb. The combination of dedicated manufacturing partners in China, and a strong focus on ergonomics and function, has resulted in a product that oozes quality.
With a product composed of a myriad of parts that move and intertwine it is quite a challenge to make this all work seamlessly and without wiggle in such a compact package. But it just works. Think Victorinox Swiss army knife or Leatherman multi-tool, and imagine these compact tools interacting with your phone and carry you up to 200 pounds at 15 mph. It’s just weird — in a good way.
Wow. This thing unlocks and operates like a Tesla. Key card or smartphone unlocks. An app shows you stats and other functions. The display on the handlebar only shows speed and charge level. Perfect. Look at this video. It’s that simple.
Oh, and I have seen my share of user interfaces on e-bikes, and it seems that quality and design of this very crucial part sometimes is done as a last-minute resort. But in this case it’s done just right. Right down to the subtle animations in the app itself. I had to film it to do it justice.
The flip — ride — fold
Carsten gave a short demonstration of how to unfold it, take a ride, and fold it back up. Take a look. It’s in real-time, no really.
Off I went. This was the fun part. I mean, I was bewildered. I rode this thing down the street, and I knew I was riding something really tiny, but my seating position was no different from that of the Zero electric motorcycle.
However, I was reminded of my unusual mode of transport when I passed bystanders: smiling. At a distance it looks like you are riding in thin air, but when getting closer, people just can’t help looking is disbelief. The realization of a grownup zipping along on something than looks more like a folding chair than a scooter brings out the smiles.
Let me put it this way: it took 10 years to bring this product to market, it took me 10 seconds to get used to it, and it takes 1 second to bring out a smile with it.
The most important part is of course the seat. To save material on cushioning and springs it is made wide and large enough for you to take advantage of the built-in cushioning that you always carry with you…
The Stigo at hand was configured for the Danish market, and it goes into the category of electric skateboards, Segways, and such. It has a top speed of 20 km/h (12.5 mph) and the few miles I rode it resulted in an energy consumption of 12 Wh per km (19 Wh per mile), which gives it a real world range of about 10 and 20 miles for the two versions respectively. The difference between the two versions is that one has a battery in only one of the two main frame supports, and the other has a battery in both.
The motor used is very small for sure, and there is a whining sound from the single speed transmission, not annoying, but noticeable. It’s placed in the hub of the rear wheel. The Stigo is by no means a sprinter, but it seems to do the job in a convincing way.
Specifications and price
Motor: 250W / 200W (depending on market)
Top speed: 35km/h or 20km/h (depending on market)
Dimensions: (LxWxH): 1050x480x805mm
Dimensions folded: 480x380x1180mm
Battery: 36V lithium-ion 5.8 Ah (11.6 Ah)
Range: 15-20 km (30-40 km)
Brakes: V-brake front, disc brake rear
Weight: 14.1 kg (15.3 kg)
Max load: 100 kg
Frame material: Aluminum
Display type: LED
Lights: LED headlight, LED tail & brake light, LED license plate light
Tires: 12” E-marked tyres
Certificates: EU L1e Type Approval
MSRP incl. VAT: 1,599 EUR (1,899 EUR)
Will it succeed?
This is a tough one, I hope so. Would I want one? Probably yes, if I had a gap in my pattern of transportation. But one thing is for sure: if you want to build something like this, the quality has to be top-notch. If it actually sells in high numbers, you don’t want problems with the motor, batteries, electronics, joints, and overall finish. The Stigo invites you to use it in a rough way. Its tiny frame has to carry your weight, it has to endure all kinds of weather, it will be thrown around, tossed into cars boots, slammed against bus seats, lifted into baggage compartments.
Again, like with the Victorinox Swiss army knife and Leatherman multi-tool, the inevitable poor quality rip-offs will crumble fast, but the originals last a lifetime. That makes them a tad expensive maybe, which may put potential buyers off. However, there might be a huge market for this at leisure resorts, airports, hospitals, factories, and any other buildings with far-stretching floors and corridors.