Token Hu, co-founder of China’s Niu Technology, is convinced that low-cost, short-range electric scooters are the key to urban traffic congestion issues. The Niu scooter has a range of 62 miles per charge and costs $800.
“The goal we set for ourselves was to find the solution to the problem of city traffic,” he said. “After a lot of research about the situation in China, US, and Europe, we don’t think electric cars can solve the problem. There are enough cars on the road already.
“We thought about the last mile problem when we first started thinking about the product, but when we were doing our research, we found it’s not only the last mile. Every day people travel to work, meetings, grab a coffee, or meet friends, the average distance is 3-6 kilometers. Everyone does about that distance. So we asked ourselves, what kind of vehicle can conveniently travel that distance?”
Niu Technology was about to enter into an already saturated market: 20-30 million e-scooters and e-bikes are sold each year for a total of more than 200 million globally. These bikes, though, are relatively cheap to make and buy; the most expensive and inconvenient part is the battery, traditionally a heavy lead-acid block weighing anywhere between 20 to 50 kilograms depending on power and capacity.
“Before Niu, every e-scooter company used different suppliers for the batteries, motor, controller, dashboard, different parts,” Hu said. “There’s no operating system. We want to make the whole system communicate with each other and communicate with our cloud services. Every time you change a piece, our servers will know.”
Crowdfunding pre-sales campaigns for Niu’s first full-sized e-scooter and mini e-scooter have been major successes: around $10.5 million and $11.75 million respectively. To date, Niu has sold over 90,000 units of its latest full-sized model, the N1S, and 60,000 units of the M1.