This week, the word ’round the campfire is that electric maxi-scooter manufacturer Vectrix is going under. That’s really sad to hear. The Vectrix has shortcomings common to first generation electric vehicles (limited range, limited performance, and long charge times), but as the first commercially available electric scooter, it really is a remarkable vehicle. But I’m not going to go into that. Eric Alemendral does a fantastic job summarizing the demise of the Vectrix in this post on Modern Buddy. Eric mentions the KLD E-165, which is something that I’m really excited to see come to the USA in 2010.
The E-165, aside from its unfortunate name, sounds pretty impressive. It’s reported to not only match the performance of gas scooters (65 mph top end and up to 100 miles on a charge), but also the price range. With the $1,000 extended battery option (which first of all, how cool is it that there’s an option for that?), the MSRP is still only $4,900 — pricing it only $500 more expensive than an arguably comparable Vespa LX-150. Specs aside, the best thing about the E-165 in my opinion is the design. I’m really, really excited about this bike. It looks like nothing else in the marketplace. It looks like the scooter of the future. If KLD can deliver on what they’re promising, it just might be.
There is only one thing that gives me pause. The E-165 is being manufactured in Vietnam. Let me clarify why this bothers me. Vietnam has some baggage when it comes to scooters. The infamous “vietbodge” restored Vespas you can find right this moment on eBay have given Vietnam a really bad reputation here in the states when it comes to scooters. Perhaps it’s a little harsh to paint an entire country with the bad reputation of a small group of Vespa “restorers.” I have hope for the E-165. Texas-based KLD has partnered with Sufat, who is apparently Vietnam’s top scooter manufacturer, simply to do the assembly on this bike using the NEUE power plant that KLD has engineered here in the states. Beyond that, you can count the number of moving parts for an electric scooter on one hand. That inherent simplicity should, hopefully, make the E-165 a hard bike to screw up.
I can’t wait. A bike that trim and cool looking, with all the torque and power of an EV, could be one really sweet ride. The E-165 is debuting in Vietnam in a few months and hopefully some demo models make it over here to the states sometime soon.