NIU has announced that it is releasing an electric scooter. The Chinese company is most well known for its $2,000 electric mopeds, which are used by rental services including Revel and Lime. Starting at $599, the NIU Kick Scooter could appeal to a broader market of people rethinking how they get around amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Your next whip? — At launch, the NIU Kick Scooter will come in two variants, Pro and Sport. The Pro will have a top speed of 19.8mph while the Sport will be able to reach 17.4mph. Those are pretty good speeds — most dockless scooter programs around the country limit the top speeds of their vehicles to around 15mph, which can feel a tad slow when cars are flying by. The Pro model will have a range of 31 miles on a 7.5-hour charge, and the Sport will be able to do 25 miles on a 5.5-hour charge.
It’s unclear what pricing will be for the different variants. Pre-orders are set to begin in June, with first deliveries in July.
E-boom — Of course, $2,000 mopeds are a niche product, so in announcing a scooter, NIU is aiming to become a real player in the market for last-mile mobility solutions.
The popularity of motorized bikes and scooters has boomed during the past year as people look to spend more time outdoors. Companies like Lime have been pitching their dockless rental programs as a safe alternative to public transit because e-bikes and scooters are single-passenger, open-air vehicles. When combined with an electric motor, e-bikes and scooters can make commutes relaxing and even fun, so as pandemic lockdowns begin lifting, NIU is in a good place to release its scooter.
Sales of electric bikes and scooters are expected to continue growing rapidly in the coming years. Many consumers who appreciate rental services may find they want their own scooter, because with rentals you have to find a scooter on the street that’s available, and the sheer volume of such scooters that are broken is often high.
One rental company, Bird, even sells its scooters directly to consumers who prefer ownership. Segway’s Ninebot scooters, which have been employed by several rental companies, have also become popular purchases. High-end e-scooter company Unagi, meanwhile, let’s end users do long-term rentals of its products straight from it.
Long, and short commutes — NIU says that its scooters feature robot suspension and 9.5 x 2.5-inch pneumatic tires that are supposed to make for a comfortable ride. The scooters are foldable and IP54 water-resistant. The promised comfort of NIU’s scooters along with the longer range of the Pro model should make them ideal for multiple short journeys, or fewer long commutes, according to the company.
After initial acrimony towards shared electric scooter companies, many cities have come around as they recognize a need to reduce congestion and encourage the use of more environmentally friendly modes of transport. Cities — especially in the U.S. — don’t always have great infrastructure of their own, so micro-mobility can be a good fix. New York City, a longtime hold-out, recently confirmed more details about its upcoming dockless scooter pilot program.