That’s my friend, Frankie, getting ready to set off on a test-ride of Current Motors’ new all-electric maxi-scooter, which promises a practical driving range of 90 miles on a single charge from a proprietary system developed by ex-Chrysler engineers. In short: it may be small, it may be humble, but Current Motors is for real.
More about the bike, along with Frankie’s riding impressions, after the jump.
Based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Current Motors and its staff of ex-Chrysler engineers have been quietly developing a full-sized electric scooter drivetrain right in my backyard (more or less) since 2007.
Current’s engineers are playing it smart, and have kept their focus on developing the technology needed to make their bikes winners before devoting much time on the aesthetics of the bikes. To keep development costs down, then, it was natural for Current to source a number of rolling chassis (nearly completed vehicles without engines and transmissions) from a Chinese manufacturer, and get to work on their proprietary battery management system (BMS) and bike control unit (BMU), which is what will eventually separate Current’s scoots from other small companies’.
The lithium-ion battery back for the Current bike occupies the same space a fuel tank on a conventional scooter would, and has a minimal impact on the scooter’s overall storage capacity (below).
Current’s website claims the BMS will keep the batteries fully operational for the life of the scooter, which is a pretty bold claim (many EV makers decline to comment on battery life and replacement costs, when asked). Current’s engineers seem pretty confident in their BMS tech and proprietary brushless electric motors’ ability to deliver on that promise, however, and I don’t bet against old Mopar guys.
Full disclosure: I’ve known Frankie (who writes for Technorati and maintains her own foodie blog) for years, and we’ve both owned a number of motorcycles, bicycles, scooters, and mopeds in that time… and it kills me that she scooped me on the story AND got to ride one before I did! Initial riding impressions, below, in her words …
John and Ben encouraged me to take one of the bikes for a test ride (and offer test rides by appointment), which is something most scooter dealerships won’t let you do. The Current was easy to turn on: I turned the key to the “on” position and hit a button. The bike was quiet and smooth, aside from an initial whirring noise coming from the magnets.
The Current’s launch was quick enough that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting run over while pulling out into traffic. It felt nimble, even zippy (for its size), and there was more than enough room for a passenger to tag along on short hops. The bike stopped as smoothly as it started, with braking augmented by a power regeneration feature. The reverse button (something most bikes of this size do not offer) was a nice feature as well – making the bike easy to parallel park and move around a parking lot.
Sounds like fun – and, while I’m not so sure about having an EV as a primary car, a 90-mile range (even at 30 mph) might make something like a Current scooter an ideal fair-weather commuter. Here’s hoping they get the look right when it’s time to take the bikes to market!