GroovyGreen.com has a video up about the new Vectrix electric scooter. They got to tour the new Vectrix assembly plant in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and take one of the pilot production scooters for a test ride. Vectrix has designed this scooter to have good performance and also look stylish. They plan to produce about 2500-3000 units a year in the US plant and even more at another plant in Poland. The Vectrix has an aluminum frame and the first iteration has nickel metal hydride batteries. Vectrix is already planning an update to lithium ion batteries (hopefully not manufactured by Sony). One unique feature of the Vectrix scooter (at least in the two wheeled domain) is regenerative braking. Most of the braking is accomplished just by releasing the throttle which triggers the regen, to charge the battery. The friction brakes are only used for heavy braking.
Vectrix claims a range of 68 miles and acceleration of 0-50 in about 7 seconds with zero emissions and none of the racket of a typical scooter. The scooter will be unveiled next month in Rome with European sales to follow. US sales are expected to start in early 2007. The expected US price is about $8,000. Vectrix is also working on a fuel cell version of the scooter. The Vectrix product FAQ is after the jump.
[Source: GroovyGreen.com, thanks to Michael at GroovyGreen]
Q: What are some of the advantages of owning a Vectrix electric scooter?
A: The Vectrix electric scooter combines all the benefits of a traditional gas-powered scooter but without the noise, pollution, expensive maintenance, frequent oil changes, and regular trips to the gas station.
Q: When can I buy a Vectrix electric scooter?
A: As soon as 2006, depending on where you live. The Vectrix scooter will be launched in Italy and England in 2006, followed by the rest of Europe, North America, and Southeast Asia.
Q: Where can I buy a Vectrix scooter?
A: Initially, the Vectrix scooter will be available in major cities in Europe and the United States, including London, Rome, Milan, Florence, Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt, New York, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco. Vectrix scooters will be sold through a combination of Vectrix franchised retail stores, electric vehicle dealers, independent motorcycle dealers, direct sales to fleet buyers, and consumer direct (e.g. catalog, internet, direct marketing).
Q: How do I become a Vectrix dealer?
A: Vectrix is currently evaluating partners/franchisees for Europe and the United States.
Q: How much will a Vectrix Scooter cost to buy?
A: Retail prices have not yet been finalized. Vectrix anticipates announcing the MSRP in a press release as early as Spring 2006. While it is likely to cost slightly more than an equivalent gas maxi-scooter, the Vectrix scooter will be up to 25% cheaper to own over four years. The Vectrix scooter offers a 90% saving in energy costs (assumes gasoline is €0.95/liter and electricity at €0.11/kilowatt hour), a 67% saving in maintenance costs, a 50% saving in insurance, plus additional savings in licensing and registration.
Q: Will the Vectrix electric scooter be available in the United States?
A: Vectrix plans to launch the scooter in the United States in 2006. Initially, the scooter will be available in stores in major metro areas, including New York, San Francisco, Miami and Los Angeles, and elsewhere through online purchases. Eventually, the Vectrix scooter will be widely available in stores throughout the United States.
Q: Is the design of the Vectrix scooter similar to a gas scooter?
A: While outwardly similar to a gas scooter/motorcycle, the design of the Vectrix scooter is completely different in almost every respect. The Vectrix scooter uses relatively few parts (250 vs. 2,500 for a gas scooter), resulting in reduced assembly costs and minimal maintenance. The Vectrix scooter is comparable to a 400 cc gas scooter in all other key areas, including weight, peak power, maximum torque, acceleration, weight, wheelbase, seat height and price. Furthermore, the look, feel, ride, comfort, and handling are comparable to a maxi-scooter.
Q: What makes the Vectrix scooter better than a gas scooter?
A: The Vectrix scooter was designed to outperform an equivalent gas scooter (e.g. 250 cc – 400 cc) in almost every way; a 25% lower cost of ownership, zero emissions, faster acceleration, lower maintenance, easier to ride, lower insurance, attractive government incentives and rebates, more convenient (avoid messy gas stations, charge at home), cleaner, lower licensing and registration fees, free parking in many cities, access to gas-restricted inner-city areas, and the list goes on and on.
Q: What is the regenerative throttle?
A: The patented regenerative throttle reverses the polarity of the electric motor which has two effects. Firstly, the energy that is usually dissipated during braking is directed back into the batteries, extending range by up to 8% to 12%. Secondly, the regenerative braking system slows the scooter smoothly and safely (similar in performance to antilock brakes), without the driver needing to use the brakes under normal driving conditions. This saves wear and tear on the brakes, further reducing the operating cost of the scooter.
Q: Does the Vectrix scooter require any special permit or license to drive?
A: This varies from country to country. For example, in the United States the Vectrix scooter is classified as a motorcycle, for which a full motorcycle license will be required. In Europe, it is expected that a rider will only require a full driver's license (and not a motorcycle license) to ride the Vectrix scooter. For more information about obtaining a motorcycle license in the US please visit Motorcycle Safety Foundation's website at www.msf-usa.org.
Q: Will the Vectrix scooter need to be registered?
A: The Vectrix scooter does need to be registered as a street legal vehicle.
Q: Are helmets required to ride the Vectrix scooter?
A: Many European countries and most of the United States require helmets to be worn while riding the scooter. State helmet laws may be found at http://motorcycleinfo.calsci.com/Packing.html#Laws Vectrix Corp recommends wearing a helmet at all times while riding the scooter.
Q: Will Vectrix offer finance options for purchasing the Vectrix Scooter?
A: Vectrix has teamed with ASI Finance to provide financing for the Vectrix Scooter to consumers, private fleets, and municipalities throughout Europe and the United States. The ASI Finance Group is comprised of financial specialists who are dedicated to helping make the purchase of the Vectrix Scooter a fast, easy and convenient experience. Contact ASI's finance departmen