Motorized Stand-Up Scooters: The Next Big Fad Or Fizzle?

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By some accounts, there is an ‘e-mobility’ wave coming, and at some point, we will have a much greater range of options for personal transportation in urban settings. One of them will reportedly be mass e-scooters for rent or purchase, but motorized stand-up scooters are not exactly new.

For example, the Autoped was manufactured in Long Island, New York, from about 1915-1921. There was a version with a very small gas engine and one with an electric motor. 

If you wanted the gas-powered version, there were two engine sizes: 155 cc and 192 cc. The top speed was 20-22 mph, but one source says 25 mph. 

(The same one states that the fuel efficiency was 125 mpg, and the cost was $100.)

This is what the Smithsonian wrote about the Autoped gas engine:

“The 4-cycle engine, mounted on the left side of the front wheel, has an air-cooled integral-head cylinder bolted to a circular crankcase. In front of the cylinder is a breather tube that protrudes from the top of the crankcase; the carburetor and muffler are behind the cylinder. The Breeze carburetor has a screw-adjusted air intake, and its needle valve is operated by a small knob bearing numbers for convenience in adjustment. A shutter serves as a throttle control. On the side of the intake manifold is a small priming cup. The intake valve is automatic and the exhaust valve is cam operated. The engine is geared to the wheel by means of a disk clutch.”

The Autoped could fold down to make it easier to store, and it had safety features like a headlamp, tail light, and horn.

In 1916, a spread in a newspaper called The Sun made various predictions about how the Autoped might impact the transportation landscape, “Solo Devil Wagon Taken Up in a Serious Way Might Add New Terrors to City Life,” proclaims one title. As it turned out, the impact was fairly minimal and as interest waned so did manufacturing and production ceased.

Is history repeating itself with the emergence of e-scooters? Are they here to stay or will they fade away just like the Autoped did? What is your view on the e-scooter trend?

Image Credits: 1. Yesterdays Antique Motorcycles, WikipediaCC BY-SA 3.0 and 2. Bismark Tribune/public domain

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Jake Richardson

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