By Rebecca Heilweil
On Wednesday, electric skateboard company Boosted revealed its first electric scooter. The debut Boosted Rev, available for $1,599, boasts a sleek black frame that conveniently folds. The scooter can travel 22 miles on a single charge, ride up a 25 percent incline, and is agile enough to handle most city streets (though a few streets in hilly San Francisco are technically steeper).
The company is hoping to convince scooter riders that owning, instead of renting a vehicle from a shared e-scooter company like Lime or Bird, saves money on the commute.
“When you commute every day, you want something that’s instantly available, and that’s pennies per mile to operate,” Boosted CEO Jeff Russakow told Cheddar. “When you take a ride-share, you’re spending about $2 a mile. For this vehicle, you’re spending $2 a day.”
“No disrespect intended, the scooter-share vehicles are really toy and leisure grade,” said Russakow. “They were never intended or designed to be a street vehicle, to be stable, to have the performance.”
But the upfront cost for Boosted's “vehicle-grade” transport is hefty. As Adrienne So of Wired notes, “Given that most people who view scooters positively are young people, lower-income groups, and people of color, it's unlikely that an e-scooter with a $1,599 price tag will replace scooter shares entirely.” And while it might be Boosted’s first electric scooter, it’s certainly not the first available on the market, where there are other products available at a significantly lower cost. Bird too sells its own scooter, the Bird One, which riders can buy for $1,300.
As they’ve emerged, safety concerns have plagued e-scooter companies. Working with the Center for Disease Control, the Austin Public Health and Transportation departments found that there are 20 injuries for every 100,000 shared electric scooter rides, after studying nearly one million rides.
Because users own the ride ー and are responsible for storing it ー Russakow said that users are more likely to also carry a helmet. In one study of e-scooter use in Southern California, only 4.4 percent of 249 electric scooter riders sent the emergency room were wearing a helmet at the time.
But Boosted will encounter the same predicament as its competitors when it comes to opposition ー or confusion ー regarding where, exactly, scooters belong in cities. Because they’re owned, Boosted bikes don’t cause the much maligned problem of shared e-scooter users leaving their vehicles strewn throughout public areas. However, the legality of riding electric scooters is still unclear, potentially dissuading buyers. “The laws are still turning, in some states, including here in New York,” Russakow said. “In most states around the country, it’s either fully legal or not specified. And we’re seeing the laws tilt that way.”
He said the ideal place for electric scooters are in bike lanes, or streets with a speed limit of 35 mph or under. While policy-makers have had mixed reactions to the vehicles, Russakow believes shared interest in lower emissions and reducing city congestion could make cities more willing to embrace e-scooters.
“What we’re all trying to do is get people out of cars,” he said. “The car model has broken down.”
For full interview click here.