October 14, 2008 Sky-high fuel prices and an increasing awareness of the damage we are doing to our planet with oversized, CO2 spouting modes of transport has seen the electric scooter evolve from plaything to viable short-trip transportation option. So if you're a new manufacturer entering into this growing market, how do you get noticed and stand out from the pack? For San Diego based start-up company ZuumCraft, the answer was to take their three-wheeled, stand-up electric vehicle on a 650 mile road trip from San Francisco to San Diego - nothing like the 2-3 mile journey it's designed for, but a great way to showcase the reliability and performance attributes of this impressive design.
The Zuumer is basically a lithium-ion battery powered cross between a skateboard and a trike. It achieves maximum speed of up to 20 mph with a range of 20 miles before recharging is required, but the stand-out feature and the key to its exceptional handling characteristics is the articulated, "carving" rear-wheel set-up which enables the rider to steer by leaning rather than relying solely on the handlebars.
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The drive is provided by a 1000 watt, in-hub electric motor at the front which means there are no chains or sprockets and therefore very little maintenance required. Acceleration is controlled by a twist-grip throttle and front and rear disk brakes, which also cut the motor, provide the stopping power.
The lightweight scooter's low center of gravity, wide deck and three wheel design all add up to a vehicle that's stable and easy to learn for beginners while still offering great fun for those who've mastered the art. A keyless locking system, front and rear lights, plus the option of spare interchangeable batteries and carry-bags add to the practicality of the Zuumer as a short-distance urban commuter and it's green credentials are boosted by the use of recyclable Bamboo for the deckboard.
The recent Californian road trip was undertaken by ZuumCraft founder Tom Boyd, who spent three and a half years developing the vehicle which he hopes can help reduce the 900 million or so car trips made daily in the US - half of which are single person trips of less than five miles. Incidentally, the promotional excursion seems to have proved its point: one untested Zuumer completed the 650+ mile journey ahead of schedule including 100 miles and 7,000 feet of climbing in one day over the hills of the Big Sur.
The Zuumer is due to hit bike-lanes from January next year at a cost of USD$2200 and pre-orders are currently being accepted at the ZuumCraft site.
Noel McKeeganView gallery - 13 images