This Vespa-like electric scooter offers clean, silent commuting, with no pedaling necessary
With speeds up to 28 mph, and a driving range of 30+ miles per charge, the street legal unu electric scooter could be a great green urban transport option.
Although bikes and e-bikes have been getting most of the attention as cleaner commuting options, not everyone wants to pedal. For those who don't want a bike, but would still like to have a small zero (tailpipe) emissions vehicle, and one that can be parked just about anywhere, has enough range to do daily commuting and errand-running, can keep up with urban traffic, is affordable, and can handle two passengers, an electric scooter might be the way to go. Although we've previously covered some e-scooters that were like a kids' kick scooter, except with an electric motor and battery, those aren't in the same league as the Vespa- and moped-style scooters, which are tried and true city vehicles (but which in their original gas-burning form are also very polluting), and which are a great fit for electric drivetrains.
An electric scooter from a German startup, unu, looks to be a well-designed contender in the urban e-mobility market, and on top of its retro-styling and options for color choices and motor size, this modern mini commuter is also a good fit financially for those looking to replace or offset their car usage. In fact, the company estimates that up to €800 (~$900) per year could be saved by individuals switching from a car to its e-scooter (at an average cost of 70 cents per 100 km, as compared to €6.50 for a similar gas-powered scooter), which doesn't even take into account the avoided tailpipe emissions of the electric scooter, so it could make both economic and ecological sense.
Available with either a 1000W, 2000W, or 3000W Bosch electric motor, the unu has a top speed of about 28 mph (45 kph) and a driving range of about 31 miles (50 km) per charge, and has a second battery slot integrated into it, which can essentially double the range with the addition of another battery. The 17.6 lb (8 kg) battery pack is removable for charging, and has an attached strap for carrying it with, and a full charge of the 51V 29Ah Panasonic lithium ion battery pack takes between 5 and 6 hours. The unu also has a regenerative braking system (kinetic energy recovery system, or KERS) to recoup some charge to the battery while driving.
"Your unu scooter battery has a range of up to 50 km. Since you drive 15 km per day on average, you only need to recharge it every 3 days. And your unu has a slot for a second battery that doubles the range to 100 km, just in case 50 km are not enough for you!" - Unu
The unu weighs in at about 58 kg (~128 lb) without the battery, which is about half the weight of a gas-powered scooter like a Vespa, and can carry a total load of up to 150 kg (~330 lb). The weight of the scooter shouldn't be an issue, as it's not necessary to carry it inside for charging or storage, and the removable battery pack makes it so that parking near a cord or outlet isn't required at home or away. It does require a driver's license (not a motorcycle license), registration, and insurance to drive on the street, but part of the company's service (at least in Europe) is that buyers can have their license plate and insurance paperwork delivered directly to them (at insurance rates of about €42 per year) after purchase, with the unu delivered to them ready to ride.
The following video, while less of a sales-y pitch and more of a users' guide, offers a look at the unu's features:
The cost of the basic unu, which has the 1000W Bosch motor and a single battery pack and comes in a variety of color choices, starts at €1,799 (~$2029 US), with second battery packs running about €700 (~$790 US), and the most powerful version, with the 3000W motor, priced at €2799 (~$3157 US). According to the company website, each unu is made on demand after purchase, and the scooter will be delivered to the customer's location upon completion. For businesses looking to green up their local logistics, unu is also offering financing and leasing options for fleets of the scooters.