Personal Transit Vehicles & Commuting

Electric personal Transportation Vehicles

Vehicles / March 22, 2022

The same is true with electric rideables. A company called Metroboard sells a board with a 40 mile range — the tradeoff being that the battery, and therefore the board, is massive. The most popular electric skateboard maker, Boosted, unveiled a second generation board in 2016 with an extended range battery that promised up to 14 miles.

But Boosted had to delay the shipment of those batteries because the company needed “further engineering time in additional safety features to match the exceptional safety performance of our standard battery.” Problem was, issues started cropping up with the standard battery, too — two riders reported smoke from the battery compartments, so Boosted had to suspend shipments and is still currently investigating what went wrong.

If these companies can push past battery issues, we’re likely to see sleeker, more efficient designs. That means no belts hanging exposed from outboard motors, and cleverly integrated batteries — like on VanMoof’s sharp electric bikes.

Mahindra’s GenZe 2.0 is a perfect example of how a big company can use electric technology to create a small and relatively cheap vehicle with some futuristic ideas. The scooter is cloud-connected, allowing you to run diagnostics and change settings from your phone, as well as find the scooter if it’s lost. The GenZe 2.0 is also an example of the gray area many of these vehicles operate in — it’s technically a moped, meaning you don’t need a motorcycle license to operate it.

Clearing this hurdle would help free up room for further innovation. Boosted, for example, already built accessory ports into the newest board — though it didn’t make them very easy to access. Some hoverboards have bluetooth speakers and flashing LED lights. And a number of companies are already using the smarts inside these vehicles to talk to and display data on your phone. Right now that data is mostly things like total miles traveled, which is good for diagnostics and social posts but not much else. But what happens with that connectivity going forward will be interesting to watch. Might your board and phone do something like show you the best times to charge based on your riding patterns, similar to what we see in electric cars?

I’ve used that word “vehicles” purposefully though. Right now the status of these rideables is sort of a gray area depending on where you ride them. (For example, in California, they’re legal to ride anywhere you can ride a bike. In New York, they’re still technically illegal.) Companies are even limiting the speeds in order to keep them from being subjected to further regulations. Yes, some rideables can already go much faster, but the people who make them are hiding those top speeds behind dams of software.

The Arcimoto SRK is a wild three-wheeled electric vehicle that costs around $11, 000. We got to drive it at CES 2016.

Beyond that it’s hard to say what the next evolution of all this will look like, though we’ve seen plenty wild ideas already. Single-person self-balancing vehicles, smart electric scooters, the three-wheeled Arcimoto SRK. Hell, there’s even a couple different true-to-life hoverboards, and a few prototype self-balancing motorcycles (something Apple even reportedly has interest in). There’s a good chance we see more of these come to fruition in 2017, or at the very least, start seeing acquisitions along these lines. The real question will be whether they’ll come from big companies, startups, or both. For now — save for a few exceptions like the Nissan Mobility Concept — it’s mostly startups.

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