Friday, March 31, 2006

Scooterteq Slices

Stopping for an after-Martini Night Martini at Rudyard’s, I met James K Wood, with whom I carefully avoided arguing politics. I did take one of his biz-cards when I left. That’s how I discovered that Jim is President of Scooterteq Motor Corporation – a firm he started to import and market vastly improved electric bicycles.

These, however, are electric bikes that look like Vespas. So the name. They are manufactured to his advanced specs in China. Taking the shortest distance to content, I quote from one of his websites:

Scooterteq electric power assisted bicycles are the only e-bikes specifically designed to meet all North American requirements, from Canada in the North to the southernmost reaches of the United States. We use high power advanced design brushless DC motors and high voltage power systems that will operate at the maximum speed allowed by law. The use of electric bicycles as an alternate method of transportation for both commuting and recreation is widely encouraged by states and provinces.

He’s using the Scooterteq brand to build equity, since the bikes have been imported and sold only in British Columbia, Canada, so far. It’s been his test market. The corporate HQ is here in Houston. But the initial container of Scooterteqs will be shipped to New England, where he’s gained his first US distributorship.

Jim is doubling up by also marketing under another trademark, Eclectic Electric. He has a website for this trademark as well.

From the specifications I can read, and comparing Scooterteq bikes to some of the common-or-garden electric bicycles I’ve found on other websites (here, for example), these are robust machines. And as Jim says, they’re not only legal without licensing (because they’re bicycles, you see); they run at 20 miles per hour with a range of 30 miles. To recharge, just plug ‘em into any wall socket.

Jim has found potentially rich slice of the market, or even two:
  • The ever-growing population of 55-and-up people who don’t want the mess and the fuss of gasoline-powered motor scooters – which do require operators’ licenses in all States.
  • Near-town or neighborhood bicycle commuters who don’t want to get sweaty on a human-powered bike (a genuine problem anywhere south of the Line, minimum).

Fine niches. His challenge is the start-up, the chicken-and-the-egg problem facing every entrepreneur: selling enough Scooterteq bikes to make money and having enough money to lots of bikes for good penetration.

These are not mopeds. Not the electric-powered stand-up scooters that appeal to the young and well-balanced. And definitely not the Segway Human Transporters drive municipal officials batty every time one shows up on a sidewalk.

The product form-factor is familiar. He’s covered his engineering front. These appear to be stout, efficient machines. (Read the specs for yourself on the website.)

Branding? He knows the issues and thinks he can make “Scooterteq” stand for a new, better form of electric bicycles.

Can Jim’s marketing penetrate the right niches? Can he and his distribution channel gain sales? In time to keep the concept and the company riding the steep grade to success? We’ll check in with Jim from time to time and let you know. Who knows? Maybe he’ll even let me try one – as soon as he gets one to Houston for himself.

Photo courtesy of Scooterteq Motor Corporation, Houston, TX.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very nice Richard. Thank you. I will certainly let you know when I get my personal bike down here at the end of April. I have brought other samples here before but wanted to wait for our Challenger, "The Lexus of Ebikes".

Jim

The Secret Pilgrim said...

John Fuhrmann, who is traveling from New Orleans to California in his van, took his Scooterteq Classique into Mexico the other day. He reports that he took to long 8% grade on the bridge over at 20 mph all the way. After riding around all day, on the return trip he did slow to 15 mph on the bridge but at no point used the pedals. He also reports that the recharge time with a 75% discharged battery is 4 hours to full.

Anonymous said...

When are these coming to England? I'm on my last car a two-seater Smart car that I was hoping to replace with a dual-fuel Smart but doing my accounts my money will not stack up. Although I have two pedal bikes, a fold-up Moulton for touring and a Mountain bike for muddy rough terrain, I will need something else when my car gives up. That is if the price is right for the low-income retired.

Sue, older sister of your friend Robert.

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Sue, I've forwarded your note to Jim Wood, President of Scooterteq here. I don't know if he has an answer for you.

Since I created the post, I've had the opportunity to ride two of these machines (different models). They are smooth, easy to handle, and have better brakes than my three bicycles. So I know they work....and suspect one would be perfect for you. Let's see what Jim has to say. All the best to your (extended) family. RLB.

The Secret Pilgrim said...

Sue,
We would love to be able to sell our ebike products in the U.K., however the current EU and U.K. laws limit the power t0 250 watts of output and speed to 12 mph or about 18 kmh. We designed the Scooterteq ebikes for the US and Canadian environments where the power limits are considerably higher, 500W in Canada and 750W in the US and permissable speed is 20 mph. We know well than anything less than this will not be of interest here because of the terrain one may encounter in different parts of N. America. We have considered lower power models for the EU market, however a smaller motor will simply not give the performance that we require.

Jim

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Sue, you might want to look at www.elecbikes.co.uk...I Goggled it up on the Internet, and this company has a couple of models that are similar to Scooterteq's, but with the UK-approved power range, etc., that Jim mentions in his response.

mark said...

Electric Bicycles and Electric Scooters

Elmo The Electric Bike and Electric Scooter Guy

This is an excellent blog for electric bicycles. There are not too many around like this. Thanks for making this such an interesting subject. Oh, by the way, Wired Magazine has a great article on hybrid cars this month. (Jan 2008 issue).

God Bless,
Elmo