Segway-Ninebot is launching a new range of electric scooters for the mobility market, including one specially designed for Germany. It complies with the latest requirements of the German Small Electric Vehicle Ordinance (eKFV). We had the chance to try it at the IFA 2019 in Berlin.
The German Federal Ministry of Transport has been a thorn in the side of e-scooter manufacturers, but 2019 has been a breakthrough year. The vehicles - and they are classed as proper vehicles in Germany - are now legal on the streets of cities like Berlin. On stage the IFA 2019, Segway-Ninebot described the German market as a challenge for manufacturers, which is putting it lightly. Now, the world's leading supplier of electrical and electronic equipment vehicles has built an e-scooter designed especially for the region, the KickScooter MAX G30D (the D is for Deutschland).
The e-scooter has been tailored to meet the technical requirements relating to power, speed, weight, brakes, handlebars, lights, reflectors and other parameters. It has a battery capacity of 551W and offers a maximum range of up to 65 kilometers. The KickScooter is equipped with an integrated quick-charger and new tubeless pneumatic tires with a diameter of 10 inches are designed for smoother and more stable handling. The risk of punctures has been reduced by a newly developed special protective coating inside the tires. Segway-Ninebot says that the 350W power enables the MAX G30D to overcome slopes of up to 20 percent of incline.
How does it feel to ride?
We were able to take the new MAX G30D for a test drive around a small track on the show floor at the IFA. The track was certainly not large enough to open up the e-scooter to its top speed, but we were able to get a sense of how the ride feels. In terms of comfort, the new tires are working nicely. The e-scooter floats along smoothly and shaper turns do not feel as jolty as they do on some of the first-generation of e-scooters we have on the streets in Europe currently.
We must also take this experience with a pinch of salt, however. Segway-Ninebot has been clever enough to build a test area with a super smooth track. No regular street paving or even tarmac is as smooth as this, so the comfortable ride is hardly surprising. The MAX G30D does feel like a solid build though. Everything is well-made and sturdy. It is bigger and bulkier in almost every area compared to the e-scooters current available via the sharing platforms in our cities. There is also a Segway-Ninebot MAX G30 (without the D) for European regions where the legal restrictions are not quite as strict, plus a couple of international versions.
Segway-Ninebot has huge ambitions for the future
The manufacturer is already at the top of the pile but at the IFA the grand plan was laid out clear and simple - Segway-Ninebot wants to dominate the electric mobility market for journeys between two and 20 kilometers, a distance the company classifies as a "short commute". Segway-Ninebot already supplies 70 percent of the ride-sharing kick scooters globally and sold 2.3 million units in 2018 alone. The ultimate goal, however, is much bigger than that. The company has set a target of one billion customers globally. There is work to do, it seems.
The manufacturer will need more than just e-scooters to hit this number, and at the Berlin trade show, we were given an insight into what else Segway-Ninebot is bringing to the market. First, there's the KickScooter T60, which uses artificial intelligence to autonomously drive to a docking station and improve the spread of scooters throughout cities. It has essentially been designed to lower the operating costs for ride-sharing platform. There are privacy concerns, though, with cameras onboard that can be accessed by human drivers in an operation center, eyebrows have understandably been raised. Segway-Ninebot showed off AI technology that can automatically detect people and license plates and pixelate them to protect the public's privacy. We'll have to wait and see how successful that is.
The T60 is still a way off yet though. The official line is that mass production will start "sometime in the foreseeable future". However, Segway-Ninebot insists that the T60 will hit our streets, sooner or later. The company is also working on delivery robots for distances under two kilometers. It calls this sector the 'micro commute'. It's not really about moving people, but objects. The DeliveryBot S1 is already operational in China, delivering meals to employees' desks and so on. The S2 and the X1 - a larger robot for use across a whole campus - are on the way.
What do you think Segway-Ninebot's ambitions? Are you into these electric mobility solutions?