The new EcoReco Model R offers a redesigned and "ridiculously feature-rich" option for urban commutes and last-mile transportation.
Although the full electric transport revolution is just in its infancy, and the vision of electric cars in every parking spot and charging stations on every corner is years (decades?) away, the options for affordable personal electric vehicles that you can buy and ride today seem to just keep growing. Many of those are two-wheelers, and while electric bikes are a great solution for some transportation needs, there are a couple of other, smaller, options available that fit better with a multi-modal commute simply because they're easier to haul and store.
Both electric skateboards and electric scooters are small enough to carry along when they can't be ridden, however, as cool as electric skateboards are, many non-skaters may find the learning curve too steep for them. An electric scooter, on the other hand, is simple to ride and get comfortable with, which can make it a much more viable personal electric transport choice.
EcoReco has been one of the leading players in the electric scooter market over the last few years, and its Model S and Model M series have been pleasing customers with their light and agile design. In the spring of 2014, I got a chance to ride an EcoReco M3 scooter for a few weeks, and while I did enjoy it, I also noted that because of its small rigid wheels and minimal suspension, it probably wasn't the best choice for locations that had a lot of cracked and bumpy roads. The CEO of the company, Jay Sung, mentioned that they had some other tire options in the works, and it looks like that has now come to fruition, as the latest model, the Model R, has 8-inch wheels with pneumatic (air) tires, plus a host of other upgrades.
The Model R offers configurable riding modes, ranging from 'eco' to 'extended' to 'BOOST', with a potential range of up to 40 miles per charge, and has lights (front, rear, under-the-deck, and turn signals on the handlebars), geolocation tracking, and several other "smart sensor" safety tech features. The Model R folds and unfolds in a single motion, allowing it to easily be carried by hand or stowed while not in use, and its 26 pound weight is lighter than its predecessors. An onboard LCD display on the handlebars accesses most scooter functions, but the Model R is also intended to connect to the EcoReco app for the full set of features, and a universal smartphone mount allows riders to keep their device easily accessible for that purpose.
A USB port on the handlebars lets riders charge their other device while riding, a physical locking hole as well as a smart electronic locking feature secures the scooter, and a partnership with Tile facilitates an integrated tracking feature for locating a stolen or misplaced scooter. The Model R also has a "Dynamic Battery Switching" feature, which allows riders to use two different capacities of battery, either singly or together, inside the battery bay under the rider's feet, along with space for the charger, and the units have a "Energy Recovery Braking" system to recapture some riding range.
"The Model R represents an innovative take on the personal EV and aims to advance the field of personal EV transportation by providing an opportunity for more people to adapt to eco-friendly transportation modes. We’ve designed the Model R to be compact and light for portability on and off of public transportation and to accommodate a variety of riders with customizable and preset ride modes, allowing for configuration of everything from battery life to throttle response time and top speed limit." - Jay Sung, EcoReco co-founder and CEO
As with its earlier models, EcoReco touts the 2000 MPGe of the Model R, and estimates that the scooter can go more than 500 miles about one dollar's worth of electricity, which could be a significant advantage for those who drive alone much of the time, and whose average commute is in the single digits of miles. It also looks to be a good fit for those who want to speed up their walking commute or the first and last miles of their journey.
EcoReco is running an Indiegogo campaign to launch the Model R, which has already blown way past its initial $50,000 goal, and backers can reserve one of the first run of scooters for pledges as low as $725, with the first units expected to ship beginning in April of 2017.