Current Motor Company, Scooters, and The Rise of Electric Vehicles

Susanna Schick’s story on the EICMA and the heavy weighting of electric scooters at the event coincides nicely with a story I’ve been working on about the official launch of the Current Motor Company.

The Current Motor Company (CMC) was founded by a team well versed in electric vehicles, and especially scooters.  Veterans of companies like REVolution Electric Vehicles, Electric Vehicle Manufacturing, the automotive electronics industries as well as a solid background in business development in emerging technologies, the company seems poised to take advantage of lessons learned by experience, primarily an “open and honest” sales philosophy, and, in step with Brammo, an effort and sensitivity to not promise what they can’t deliver.

Here’s the press release from earlier this month:

MEDIA CONTACT
Shannon Wentworth
Current Motor Company
shannon [at] currentmotor.com

CURRENT MOTOR’S ELECTRIC SCOOTERS WHOOSH INTO PRODUCTION
Michigan start up takes EV from prototype to production in 18 months

Ann Arbor, Mich. (October 27, 2010) — After 18 months of research, development and testing, Current Motor Company (CMC) is proud to announce that its revolutionary electric scooters are ready for sale to the general public.

With a whirr and a whoosh, CMC’s powerful, all-electric scooters roll off the assembly line on their way to customers all over the United States who are eager to take advantage of 2010 federal and state tax rebates. Customers who take delivery before the end of 2010 can save up to 50 percent with these incentives, which vary by state.

“We are thrilled to be moving into production and selling bikes,” Peter Scott, president of Current Motor Company, said. “We’re particularly thrilled to have brought a best-of-class scooter to market with only $400,000 of capital. Our competitors spent 10 to 20 times that much. In one case, it cost $100 million to get to market.”

Created by gearhead, motorcycle-loving engineers, Erik Kauppi and John Harding, CMC breaks the mold for electric vehicles. With a top speed of 70 miles per hour, CMC bikes are more powerful. The obnoxious stats don’t stop there. CMC boasts other best-in-class features, like a top real world range of 55 miles on a single charge, an operating cost of two cents a mile and nearly no maintenance for the life of the vehicle.

To top it all off, CMC is the most affordable electric scooter. CMC customers pay about $136 per mile of range, 32 percent less than Zero and Brammo (each cost $200 per mile of range), 59 percent less than Vectrix ($333 per mile of range) and 73 percent less than Tesla ($500 per mile of range).

“It doesn’t matter what your position is on politics or the environment. The last six U.S. presidents have all called for reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” Harding said. “CMC’s high performance, no emissions, electric scooters do just that. It’s time for Americans to do the right thing.”

Electric scooters are tops in convenience, too. “Imagine never having to stop for gas again,” Scott said. “You can ride the future today.”

Ranging in price from $5,999 to $7,499, CMC’s economy, standard and deluxe scooters are on sale now CurrentMotor.com.

ABOUT CURRENT MOTOR COMPANY
Founded by engineers tired of expensive, wimpy electric vehicles, Current Motor Company fills the unmet need for practical, affordable, zero-emission electric vehicles. Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., Current develops and manufactures affordable all-electric motorcycles and motor scooters that outlast and out perform anything else on the market. Our team combines expertise in business and marketing with ingenious engineering and hands-on electric vehicle experience. Current is a proud semifinalist in 2010 Cleantech Open, the world’s largest cleantech business competition.

For more information, visit www.currentmotor.com and follow @current_motor on Twitter.

The thing that I find most interesting in all this is the rapidly growing popularity of what amounts to the e-bike, electric moped and electric scooter market over the electric motorcycle market.  Why is this?  It’s really very simple.  Buyer expectation.

A customer in the market for a scooter is looking for a lower speed ride.  Most gas scooters aren’t highway capable, and an urban environment is ideal.  Right out of the gate, you’re selling to your audience.

As John Harding, Founder and Vice President of Product Development for CMC puts it, “Looking at our early sales and we find that slightly more of our customers are brand new to two-wheels. They fall into being “greenies” – they see EV’s as an important part of an environmentally sustainable future. They’re prepared to go out and get a motorcycle endorsement and try something new to support their position. … There are approximately 120,000 scooters sold every year – probably around 80% of those customers could ride electric with no change to their riding habits. That’s obviously an attractive market to sell to.”

Besides that, a scooter design is a simple, easy, and affordable configuration for electric.  Hub motors are typically not over 16″ in diameter, right in line with scooter wheels.  They don’t develop much in the way of top speed or acceleration, at least by motorcycle standards, but again, they’re square in the middle of the scooter numbers.  Hub motors are a simple, straightforward design, allow more room in the frame for batteries, and efficient.  Scooters also, more or less by class, have enclosures- allowing you to cover up the electronics and batteries in a nice, acceptable design. Early scooters, in fact, look more electric than gas…  here’s a Louis Lepoix BMW R12 via www.bikeexif.com:

Now.  Add to this the conversation I had recently with Paul Morlock of Electric Bikes of New England, and I’m starting to think that the electric bicycle, moped and scooter market is really where things are going to happen in 2012.  It’s a good fit, and it seems to be bearing out in real sales.

Good luck to Current Motors Company, and look back for some detailed specs on their bikes…  in particular, compared to the Brammo Enertia- a motorcycle that seems to want to be a scooter, as compared to scooters that seem to want to be motorcycles.

One more thing.  Apparently it’s a lot easier to tool up a scooter company as well.  I was curious how a company could launch a product with so much flashy plastic molding (plastics tooling is incredibly expensive, and relies heavily on high-volume scale to make it profitable) and high-quality electrics (ditto), and found that, in many cases, gas scooter companies will sell their frames, parts and systems a la carte- without the smelly bits.  Compare that to the motorcycle companies- I’ve heard several instances where the big boys, Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki and others won’t entertain the sale of a rolling chassis…  there are, of course, exceptions, but for the most part, it’s a different game.

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