The electric revolution comes in various shapes and sizes. We are all very familiar with the intricacies of electric cars, but a category that sometimes gets overlooked is scooters. This may be because there hasn’t been an example that shines like a beacon of hope the way Tesla does. Until now, that is, and the scooter we are talking about today is the Etergo AppScooter.
We visited their headquarters in Amsterdam to talk with CEO Bart Jacobsz Rosier and tour their workshop, and it is mighty impressive. By the time you are done reading this article and watching our videos about it, I will be well within my rights to call you crazy for not ordering one, if you are in the market for a scooter. I was not looking for one and still fell in love with it.
Etergo has their priorities straight and spent their time and attention not on making it the flashiest scooter out there, but on the things that truly matter as well as a ton of small details that make it an amazing all around vehicle.
The name is perhaps the first giveaway of what makes it the Tesla of scooters: it’s called the AppScooter. Two of the best aspects of a Tesla, other than it being an electric vehicle, is the big center console and the fact that the product improves over time with over-the-air (OTA) updates. The AppScooter looks and feels very similar in that it has a large 7-inch touch screen mounted front and center.
The operating system is based on Android and thus has the potential to run any app you need as long as it doesn’t compromise safety, which is at the core of their beautiful flat user interface design. The system connects to your phone and will handle things like navigation, music, calls, and settings. Thanks to the power of over-the-air updates, the functionality can continue to evolve over time.
The User Interface
At first glance, someone might think that a giant screen like that could serve as a distraction, but that is only until you consider the fact that there are a lot of people that try to use their phone while on a scooter already. As a matter of fact, it is so dangerous that smartphone usage is now the number 1 cause of death in traffic. While on the road, the touchscreen on the AppScooter cannot be operated. For music controls, buttons intuitively placed at your fingertips put control within reach and without compromising safety to allow the driver to skip a song without having to look down at the screen. In the case of receiving a tetx message, the driver is able to quickly look at the large screen for a mere moment rather than wonder in agony until you take out your phone to see whether it is even important or not.
Personally, I use Android Auto in the car constantly to safely monitor messages and sometimes reply by voice. I have lost count of the number of times I was trying to look at the GPS to determine which lane I need to be in for the turn when an irrelevant text message notification gets in the way. Etergo’s solution to this is brilliant and Google should definitely take note here. One other fun tidbit is that after some very pointed questions, the CEO hinted that the AppScooter may eventually contain easter eggs, so you can bet good money on the fact that the first thing I will do when I get a review unit this spring will be to try the infamous Konami code.
Flexible Batteries Without Stealing Valuable Storage Space
This is where another piece of Tesla-like design brilliance comes into play. Tesla popularized the skateboard battery design that locates the battery in the floor of electric vehicles. The design results in more space in the cabin and a low center of gravity that significantly improves vehicle stability. The scooter however, is an entirely different vehicle. In the end, Etergo came up with the perfect analogous technology: 3 large, banana-shaped batteries.
These banana batteries are inserted through the under-seat storage compartment where they simply slide in to slots in the floor of the scooter, right under your feet. In fact, you push these batteries in so far that they don’t take up any of the usable storage space. That’s the real cherry on top of this scooter.
A petrol scooter has somewhere between 5 and 31 liters of storage space. Electric scooters usually have less, or even none, but on average might still have 5-10 liters of storage space. The AppScooter blows both away with a total storage capacity of 50 liters! In fact, it is so big that it can fit a full size Dutch beer crate, which in the past I either needed to buy with a car or if on a bike, then hold it in place on the rack with one hand behind the bicycle seat. I know it sounds insane, but we do it all the time in the Netherlands so Etergo’s solution is so much better.
Attention to Detail
Another major detail is that the AppScooter does not have a key, instead it has a key fob. In addition to that the phone can also be used to remotely unlock the AppScooter. Its built-in GPS and mobile internet connection allow you to locate the scooter and will be useful to track it down if someone manages to steal it. An alarm is included with the AppScooter and they also make theft more difficult by “blocking the software of certain drivetrain components.” When it comes to listening to music or podcasts on the scooter, you are not limited to two 10-watt built-in speakers as you can always connect a wireless bluetooth headset to the scooter.
Performance & Specs
No electric scooter would be complete without an impressive spec sheet and the AppScooter does not disappoint. Just how powerful is this thing? So powerful that it can go from 0 to 45 km/h in 3.9 seconds. In the performance configuration, it is so powerful you can almost classify it as a motorcycle rather than a scooter. Depending on your local laws, you might even need a motorcycle driving license.
The AppScooter will be available with 3 motor configurations: 2 kW, 4 kW, and 7 kW motors. The 2 kW motor allows the AppScooter to reach speeds of up to 50 km/h / 31 mph, the 4 kW motor has a maximum speed of 70 km/h / 43.5 mph, and the 7 kW motor variant can reach 95 km/h / 59 mph. That’s basically already highway speeds.
The most basic variant costs 3,399 euros ($3,800) and only includes one battery with extra battery modules sold separately. The medium motor package comes with two batteries and is the most popular option at 4,297 euros ($4,805). The top-tier configuration comes with the peppy 7 kW motor and 3 batteries but will set buyers back 5,246 euros ($5,866). Now, I originally was wondering whether it might have just been one type of motor that was limited by software, but turns out there really are 3 different motors.
The vehicle has a range of 80 kilometers / 50 miles per battery module and up to 3 modules can be inserted into the scooter at a time. For even longer rides, nothing is preventing you from putting a few spare battery modules in the voluminous 50 liter storage space. One of the reasons the AppScooter has such a high range is because like we see on modern electric vehicles, it also has regenerative braking which extracts a bit more range from all the starts and stops throughout a trip. According to the CEO, regenerative braking extends the AppScooter’s range about 5% to 9%.
There are 7 paint options for the AppScooter. 3 glossy ones (black, white, red) are free, glossy yellow is 100 euros more, matte black and matte grey are 150 euros more and matte blue is 200 euros more.
The AppScooter Is Being Reworked For Volume Production
The AppScooter is currently going through a final design phase to prepare it for volume production. One of the main differences is a redesign in the layout of the cargo area. Because that particular redesign is still patent pending, we were not allowed to film it or describe it in great detail. However, we are allowed to say that it will still fit a beer crate and that the simplest explanation of the change is that the previous one looked more like the small storage compartment in the trunk of a car where you put the spare tire while the new one looks more like the inside of an actual car trunk.
Another really fun change is a redesign to allow it to withstand “minor flooding.” While a real flood would still damage the vehicle, something like the recent flooding in Venice, for example, might still be ok. They raised certain components by 30cm (1 foot), so whether this means it can now withstand a 30cm high flood or a knee deep level flood remains unclear but the change will clearly increase its resistance to water. This is actually quite an important change considering how many scooters are sold in Venice which will now be flooding on a regular basis.
There are also countless other changes being made to the AppScooter design as they streamline it for high volume production, but none of them change the appearance or the functionality of the vehicle.
The AppScooter Is Just The Beginning
Right now, Etergo is laser-focused on releasing the AppScooter. The first deliveries will be in the Netherlands around March/April 2020. In Q2, they will expand to Germany and then afterwards, to other European markets. At the moment, they expect to sell around 10,000 units per year and within 3-5 years, introduce their next scooter. The way Etergo is phrasing it, the new vehicle will be an expansion of their product line which makes it sound quite a bit like that new scooter will be Etergo’s scooter analogy of the Model 3, cheaper, easier to mass produce, maybe a few less features but probably not a lot less.
According to Etergo, about 60% of the Asian market will be able to afford it. Who knows, maybe they will call it the Applet Scooter. In any case, they hope to start by selling 60,000 units in Europe and steadily grow to 1 million units as they expand into the Asian market that heavily relies on vehicles like scooters and Tuk Tuks.
So is this the cheapest electric scooter out there? Well, not really. Apart from that, the AppScooter is a champion in just about every other way. With 2 or 3 battery modules, it has unparalleled range for an electric scooter and gives its ICE counterpart a run for its money. The 95 km/h top speed of the 7 kW variant makes this one of the fastest non-motorcycle scooters out there. I could literally find only one production scooter out there with a higher top speed and the difference was marginal.
Then there’s the build quality. Having looked at various competitors I can say with certainty that no other scooter appears to be built as sturdily as this one. There are no sensitive components sticking out, and it is the cleanest, slickest design I have seen. With 50 liters of storage capacity, the AppScooter can easily be used to do grocery shopping without having to worry about not being able to fit them into the scooter. Then the final sentence that just sets it apart from the rest of the competition, the AppScooter is smart.
However does the AppScooter stand up to the rigors of the real world? We will find out this spring when we do a full review.
Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.