New Zapp Electric Scooter Just 200 Pounds, 200 Components
With simpler designs, no noise and no tailpipe emissions, electric scooters are projected to rapidly gobble market share in Europe and Asia.
Introducing to the media the new i300 electric step-through scooter that promises high-performance urban mobility and attractive ease of ownership, Zapp board member and investor Tony Posawatz said the bike is a premium transportation solution for congested cities, particularly those with looming bans on combustion engines and all vehicle emissions. The scooter’s advanced design features removable lithium-ion battery packs, and Posawatz is particularly keen about its comparative engineering simplicity versus today’s internal-combustion (IC) rivals: the Zapp i300 has barely more than 200 total components and a weight of just more than 200 lb (96 kg is the listed curb weight) with batteries.
Posawatz, recent former CEO of Fisker Automotive and vehicle line executive (VLE) for GM’s Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid that launched in 2010, said United Kingdom-based Zapp has targeted the high end of the powered 2-wheels (P2W) market, focusing first on the huge markets of Thailand and France, where a respective 1.5 million and 250,000 units are sold annually. The Thai P2W market, he said, represents some $4 billion in annual revenue. In addition, “We believe this [electric high-end scooter] will play well in European cities,” he said, where there currently are some 35 million IC-driven P2Ws on the road, many in danger of being banned from the very cities in which they have long been viewed as a more efficient and less profligate means of getting around.
Reflecting the reality of Europe’s cities on IC transportation, Posawatz presented data indicating the global P2W market is fully underway in its transition to battery-electric propulsion at a much faster pace than passenger cars. In Europe, the five-year combined annual growth rate (CAGR) for electric two-wheelers was 48%.
The i300’s low parts-count and low maintenance needs combine with zero emissions and almost no use of plastics to “resonate with consumer values today,” said Zapp’s presentation. Posawatz, meanwhile, enthused about its powerful motorcycle-like performance – the i300’s 0-31 mph (0-50 km/h) time of 2.35 seconds, he said, can be the best safety feature in tight urban traffic.
The thrust comes from the Dana-supplied permanent-magnet motor that can develop as much as 14 kW (20 hp) in full-power “Zapp mode,” available from 0-3000 rpm, or 7.2 kW (9.65 hp) of continuous power. Maximum torque is 85 Nm (63 lb-ft) at the crankshaft and 587 Nm (433 lb-ft) at the rear wheel – more torque across the rpm range than many superbikes, Posawatz added. Drive goes through a belt reduction ratio and is transferred to the rear wheel via a toothed carbon-fiber belt like that of many current motorcycles and pedal bikes.
The i300’s battery design features twin removable modules, each comprised of 20 lithium-ion pouch cells in prismatic configuration that slide under the footwell floor. (Posawatz would not name the supplier, saying only that it is Asia-based.) Each module weighs about 12 lb (5.4 kg) and can be carried away to be recharged at a conventional 110-V or 240-V household outlet – a big advantage, the company said, versus vehicles with non-removable batteries that require “tethered” recharging at public charge points or from dedicated chargers. (Chief rival Piaggio’s electric scooter also features a removable battery.) The Zapp scooter operates using either one or both batteries.
With a total 2-module battery capacity of about 1.4 kWh (the bike also features regenerative braking to return energy to the batteries), Zapp said the i300’s maximum riding range is 37 miles (60 km), which “exceeds the daily range requirement” of the P2W user. The steel/aluminum-framed bike has a wheelbase of 1397 mm (55 in.) and can handle two riders or a maximum payload of 150 kg (331 lb).
Compared with contemporary scooters, the i300 is not inexpensive: a carbon-bodied Carbon Launch Edition is $8995 and the standard i300 is $7495. But Posawatz said those prices are not out of line with the upper end of the segment – and the electric scooter may qualify for attractive purchase incentives in some markets. Zapp targets online ordering as its primary retail model, although some showrooms are planned for certain markets.
Once the customer orders and pays for the scooter, it is drop-shipped to the buyer’s location. Aftersales and service are earmarked to be handled by mobile technicians. The i300 was in production in mid-2021, with initial orders awaiting delivery in Europe and Asia, the company confirmed. Posawatz said the scooter is built by the Thai Summit Group, a prominent Thailand-based contract manufacturer.