Electric Scooter History - Invention, Evolution & Innovations
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When were electric scooters invented?
"Where did it all start"? This is a question often asked in many areas and so it is with today's arrival and advancement of various electric vehicles.
Many probably think it is a later development and would guess that the last 20 years or so is where the history of electric scooters, cars, and bikes was conceived. It will come as a surprise to them that electric vehicles existed more than a century ago. Not only that, but they were at one point the first source of power that inventors thought of for a self-propelled vehicle. Had that development continued we might have seen a different turn of events and history as far as personal vehicles go.
In fact, in 1897 the best-selling car in the United States was an electric car called Columbia. Electric cars were outselling both steam and gasoline-powered cars. It took until 1903 for petrol-powered vehicles to take a narrow lead in the sales figures. An American writer at the time noted that “It must be remembered that the electric motor, the steam engine, and the gas engine have all been proven successful and that an automobile made by a well-known concern and fitted with any one of these three types of motive power is a practical motor vehicle".
However, the internal combustion engine eventually won that race due to the powers that be influencing the market in the direction of huge oil findings. But also, the longer range of the combustion engine was appealing to people. They did not want to feel any uncertainty about recharging and other such practicalities.
Who Invented the Electric Scooter?
The wooden kick scooter, with skate wheels, dates back to sometime in the late 19:th century, about the same time motorized bikes were also arriving on the scene.
To answer the question "who invented the electric scooter" is not as straightforward as one would think.
A quick search online of who invented it, sometimes answers the name of Arthur Hugo Cecil Gibson, an inventor who developed the Autoped in 1913 and patented it in 1916.
However, the Autoped was a self-propelled petrol-driven vehicle, not electric. But in many ways similar to today's e-scooters. 10-inch wheels, collapsing stem, and handlebars for better storage.
Many thought it was merely a toy for the rich elite but it found use by delivery men, postal workers, and NYC traffic officers amongst others.
Nowhere is it easy to find the exact date, place, and who it was that invented the e-scooter. What is known as fact is that on Dec 1:st 1895 Ogden Bolton Jr was granted his first patent for a battery-powered bicycle. But it is suggested that it was a development and modification of an already existing electric bicycle.
Early incarnations of electric motors appeared in the 1740:s through a Scottish monk, Andrew Gordon. The development of electric motors and electromagnetic fields continued with other scientists such as Michael Faraday and Joseph Henry.
The Story Goes On
Many companies all over the globe were motivated by the success of scooter vehicles in the 1910:s. It motivated them to develop different versions of gas-powered models. However, they were difficult to handle, uncomfortable, and crude at best. It damaged the reputation of stand-up scooters somewhat and it took a long time for people to change their minds about them. This might be one reason why the development of e-scooters slowed down to a bare minimum.
Instead, it was the time of the electrical bicycle and electric motorbike.
Things started to move in the late 1930:s with a french inventor called Maurice Limelette. Together with his brother Albert, he founded an electric motorcycle company called SOCOVEL in 1938. In 1941, Maurice started inventing and developing his electric scooter due to the rationing of gas during the German occupation.
It was also lightweight and that combination sparked interest from the German forces. In their first year, SOCOVEL produced and sold more than 400 units despite them being quite expensive. The company kept producing and selling e-bikes until 1945.
Gas shortage was an issue even in the US during World War II. This prompted Merle Williams in Long Beach California to develop his own electric bicycle. It soon became more than a hobby and turned into his main occupation. He manufactured and sold e-bikes during the whole WWII period with great success. He eventually partnered with a local business owner to form the Marketeer Company, today known as ParCar Corp. To this day, they are still developing and manufacturing electric vehicles.
In 1967, Karl Kordech, an Austrian chemist and one of the co-inventors of the alkaline battery, made a fuel cell Nickel-cadmium battery hybrid electric motorcycle.
That same year, the American racer Floyd Clymer developed the Papoose. This was the first electric bike prototype under the Indian brand.
In 1975, Mike Corbin, another American racer and innovator introduced the City Bike, a street-legal commuter e-bike with lead-acid batteries.
For the speed freaks out there, it might be interesting to know that Mike Corbin set the electric motorcycle speed world record in 1974. He clocked an astonishing 163.287 mph (266.165 kph) on his custom-built motorcycle called the Quicksilver. The record stood for an amazing 38 years.
The Trend Continues
The 70:s trend continued with various independent enthusiasts actively working on their e-bike models. Always trying to improve. While the focus was on electric motorcycles, their innovations and developments paved the way for the modern electric kick scooter.
Peugeot was the first manufacturer to mass-produce an electric scooter called the ScootÉlec in 1996. It was a great success albeit a bit heavy and the Ni-Cd batteries it used were not very eco-friendly. But it was an important step forward.
In 1986 Go-Ped was released. It went back to the old concept of gas-powered stand-up scooters first seen in 1915. In 2001 the company released a model called the "Hoverboard" which featured full suspension on both wheels.
The big breakthrough came in 1991 when Lithium-Ion batteries were invented. These batteries could store the most energy per kilogram and put out the most current. Faster charging times were another reason why laptops, smartphones, etc use them. And they were the most eco-friendly of them all as well.
One name comes up as a suggestion answering the question of who was responsible for the modern kick-scooter as we know it in more recent times.
Wim Ouboter, a swiss banker claims to have invented the modern portable lightweight kick-scooter in 1990, supposedly to cover a mile or so between his home and the local bratwurst shop in Zurich Switzerland.
Not thought of as anything more than a practical solution for that last mile, Ouboter kept working on his device and eventually came up with a three-wheeled version which he introduced to the American sporting goods company K2. They debuted it at the International Sports Fair of 1998 in Munich. Known as the Kickboard, the success of this kick-scooter helped Ouboter start his company Micro Mobility Systems in 1999 which manufactured his original two-wheeled concept.
Demand was high. Oubuter allowed his production partner from Taiwan to distribute the scooter in the United States under the name of Razor. And so it was that in 2003, the very popular brand added an electric motor.
Modern Electric Scooters
In the 2000:s, the re-introduced Go-Ped made enthusiasts combine that idea and design with different electric motors and batteries of the latest versions. Various electric scooter prototypes saw the light of day.
One of them was a company called Myway which started as a garage project in 2009. Today we know it as Inokim, one of the leading manufacturers of electric kick scooters.
Many other manufacturers have emerged and we will probably see more of them shortly.
The benefits of electric scooters and particularly stand-up scooters over f.e. gas-powered mopeds are plentiful and evermore people realize this daily. Portability, lightweight, zero emissions, easy to use and handle, perfect last-mile solution, and extremely low cost per mile are some of the benefits of the modern electric scooter.
When did Electric Scooters Become Popular?
The boom and scooter revolution started in 2018. The arrival of dockless GPS bike rental services in big cities showed the way. Rental e-scooter share companies wanted a piece of the micro-mobility market. It was perfect timing as prices were dropping on batteries and GPS trackers. The omnipresent use of smartphones helped as well as the demand for cleaner and easier inner-city transport.
Since then, electric scooters can be seen more or less everywhere, not only in the major cities worldwide, and in ever-growing numbers. Kids ride them to school instead of biking, people commute to their train or bus, etc.
The Emergence of Fluidfreeride
Fluidfeeride started as a result of riding an electric scooter from one of the bigger share companies and it was an instant love affair. This was in March 2018. It was fun, practical end emissions-free. Right, we had to get one of our own.
This turned out to be easier said than done. Searching the internet for hours trying to find any info, which models to buy, and general reviews, was a very frustrating exercise. The offering in the US was more or less non-existent.
Scooters are quite complex and hyped-up infomercials were not to be relied upon.
So we decided to do something about it. We tried a handful of models straight from Chinese manufacturers to identify a select group of e-scooters best suited to us and like-minded users and customers.
Quite a few orders down the road (many of which were disappointing) we finally chose two models to start our venture with. The WideWheel which was fast and very powerful, best suited for thrill-seeking riders, and the Mosquito which focuses on portability and versatility.
The fluidfreeride website was created and the company was set up in September 2018. Since then we've expanded our service capability and added more models. The first year we had the Wolf, the Horizon and the Mantis added to our catalog.
Today we offer a larger group of selected electric scooters chosen to satisfy every desired need as much as possible. If that is a lightweight last-mile solution scooter to bring on public transport or a monster off-road beast with high performance, we should be able to cover that.
We love electric scooters and our focus is on helping you find the best scooter for you. We are continuously investing in bettering our service capability so that you can trust a solution and help is available should an issue arise.
At the time of writing, we are based in Miami FL with a self-operated service center in Brooklyn NY, and with an expanding network of service partners.
Some of our models include the Cityrider.
The latest and new Cityrider is a lightweight foldable e-scooter with quite a powerful 36V 350W motor good for a top speed of 18 mph (29 kph). Perfect for inner-city commutes, it only weighs 28 lbs (13 kg) and has a real-world range of 10-15 miles (16-24 km).
Integrated turn signals with bright front and rear LED lights, drum brake, and rear step on-brake makes this a safe choice of scooter and easy to operate.
Android and iOS apps let you customize the sleek display showing speed in either miles or kph, personalize driving modes, and more. Cruise control can also be enabled through the app and even which speed you prefer.
Solid tires mean zero chance of running flats. It is a very smart and sleek-looking e-scooter with matte black coloring and a wooden deck adding to that stylish design.
The Horizon is a perfect choice for someone looking for an ultra-reliable companion with plenty of power and a longer range. There are two choices of batteries, 10.4 Ah with a 23-mile range (37 km) or the bigger 13Ah version with up to 30 miles of range (48 km).
A strong hillclimber as well with its 500W/peak power 800W rear hub motor, it can easily tackle 15% inclines and has a top speed of 25 mph (40 kph). Excellent drum brake plus regenerative braking are all part of the package.
Dual suspension system provides a very smooth ride. The rear tire is solid to prevent flats. Usually, the rear suffers them.
Easy to fold with a clever folding mechanism it is very portable.
LED lights all around and an advanced display throttle combination with plenty of options to customize the settings.
Fluid Mantis Pro V2 fluid Edition
The first version of Mantis was and still is a great scooter. Hailed for its overall performance and ride quality it just got even better.
The new Kaabo Mantis Pro has upgraded its lights package, and now has fully hydraulic brakes and an IPX5 rating. It is a perfect choice if you are looking for a crossover that can handle inner-city commutes as well as some off-road and trails. It is proper fast with lots of torque and strong acceleration.
Dual 60V 1000W motors mean a top speed of 40 mph (64 kph) and power enough to go up 30% inclines without missing a beat.
A very effective dual suspension system with an advanced spring arm version makes riding over grass or other trails buttery smooth.
The Minimotors EY3 display/throttle combination allows configuration of the speed limit, cruise control, regenerative braking strength, motor torque adjustments, and ABS. New bright headlights at handlebar height, with additional front and rear LEDs as well as turn signals and a lateral LED strip will make sure you'll be seen at night.
It has a 40+ miles (64+ km) range and still weighs "only" 65 lbs (29 kg). Sure, it is not a small or lightweight e-scooter but still possible to carry in one hand.
So we've learned that the history of the motorized scooters as well as the modern electric scooter begins already many years ago. It is not something that has arrived just recently. Already in the mid 1700:s did people develop and learn about battery technologies.
At the time of writing, it is safe to say that the future of the electric kick scooter is probably bright. The world is indeed changing and battery-driven PEVs are now the rage. Whether one is a fan or not. Ridesharing companies, as well as privately owned electric scooters, will most likely be growing in popularity. Gas prices are rising, roads are congested, and the public transport system leaves a lot left to desire many times.
The electric scooter is a problem solver that offers a swift and easy way to get to your destination, especially in inner-city environments.
However, the electric scooter manufacturers don't stop there. Longer range comfortable e-scooters will develop even further and if someone is willing to commute on small motorcycles, they might be willing to do it on an electric scooter instead.