Two wheeler division of Indian heavy industry conglomerate, Mahindra, plans on building $3000, 30-mph electric scooters for the North American market right in good ‘ol Michigan.
The scooter, called GenZe, will feature a luggage compartment, under-seat phone and laptop chargers, an LCD display that is essentially a smartphone instrument panel, and a potentially innovative seat that supports you in a sitting and standing position.
The GenZe website is actually pretty attractive, and Mahindra’s PR firm/team goes through great lengths to tell us why the GenZe is the solution for the ills of failing urban transportation infrastructure. Noticeably absent are any real specifications about the thing—like range, power, weight, etc.
I wonder if some transport cabal got together a few years ago and made the decision that “the urban” was going to be the next big vehicular marketing exercise.
Old-timers like BMW, Yamaha, and Ducati have incoming and proposed models that are designed to solve that illusive and constantly redefined urban mobility problem. Newcomers like BRD are even considering a practical scooter model with tech and spec to rival the big dogs.
This all sounds good until you consider the alternatives. No, not the aforementioned BMW, Yamaha or Ducati projects, but just the thousands of machines for sale everyday on your local Craigslist.
Consider the humble Honda Elite 80 scooter. Made for decades, cheap to run, easy to ride, fast enough (up to 45 mph in my experience) and, best of all, you can buy a used example from $400-1000 depending on year and condition.
When current and decades-old gas scooters are so cheap to buy and so simple to run and maintain, an electric scooter does not really offer much other than the pat-on-the-back idea of zero emissions and no fuel costs.
There are tangible reasons to consider an electric motorcycle — the simplicity and purity of the riding experience, coupled with the prodigious and always-available torque, makes it a uniquely exhilarating experience. The same cannot be said for electric scooters.
Scooters are get-around-town devices — simple, practical, and cheap. In other words, electric scooters are going to have to bring more than gimmicky LCD screens and zero-emissions to the table in order to undercut the sheer value of a $500 used Honda scooter.