Are NQi and UQi the keys to e-scoot commute domination?
Can you believe that the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was only three months ago?? January, 2020, feels like it was another lifetime ago, but I promise it really happened. Chinese electric scooter manufacturer NIU unveiled the RQi-GT, its first 5G and 24/7 cloud-connected electric motorcycle, at CES 2020, showing it wants to do more than just scooters.
Despite the ongoing global situation, NIU wasn’t content to sit back on its heels and just not release any other new models for the rest of the year. Fast-forward to the end of April, 2020, and the company is formally launching not just one but two new electric scoots. Finally, after an EICMA 2019 introduction, the NQi and UQi-series of electric scooters are now launching in Italy.
The NQi comes in two flavors: regular and GT. Both are driven by rear hub-mounted Bosch motors offering slightly different specs. The base NQi series features an 1800-watt motor with NIU’s electronic braking system (EBS), which uses hydraulic disc brakes front and rear to stop you while regenerating power from that force. NIU estimates that you’ll gain an additional 6 percent of charge, or about 4 kilometers (just under 2.5 miles).
Gallery: NIU NQi Electric Scooter
Meanwhile, the NQi-GT features a 3000-watt motor that can reach a top speed of 70 kmh (or just under 43.5 mph). NIU’s website says this is ‘a faster scooter,’ but the base NQi series does not currently have a top speed claim listed, so the exact comparison is unclear.
The base NQi gives 50 to 80 kilometers (or 31 to 49.7 miles) of range on a single charge, while the GT is equipped with two battery packs for a combined 100 to 160 km (or 62 to 99.4 miles) of range, depending on how spiritedly you ride. All batteries are Panasonic units, and the GT handily offers a double-charging option so you can charge both its batteries at once. Also, while the regular NQi charges in 7 hours, the GT offers fast-charging up to 100 km of range in just 3.5 hours. The base NQi comes in your choice of four gloss colors and two matte ones, while the NQi GT only comes in white or black with a red racing stripe.
Other bells and whistles only found on the GT version include a GPS alarm system that sends alerts to your phone to let you know if your scoot gets stolen. It’s also pretty waterproof, with a ford depth of 230 mm (or 9 inches), so NIU says it’s pretty solidly equipped for rainy and/or snowy conditions. Plus, I mean, you can’t argue with that racing stripe, can you? It does look pretty nice.
Gallery: NIU UQi Electric Scooter
The UQi series is a more naked, stripped-down electric scooter experience. The motor was created by Bosch as well, but its exact wattage isn’t listed, adding to the perception that this is solidly built for commuting.
Claimed range is a tiny 30 to 40 kilometers on a single charge, or 18.6 to 24.8 miles. It charges in 3.5 hours, which is good if you’ll be leaving it parked at school or work while you go about your business. The UQi comes in your choice of three solid colors and one black with red accent stripe option that looks quite nice.
Although NIU officially began sales of its electric scooters in the U.S. in December 2019, it’s unclear when or if these specific models will reach our shores. In Europe, pricing for the NQi GT is 3,099 euros (US $3,357) through May 15, at which point it reverts to the full 3,599-euro price tag (or US $3,899). Meanwhile, the UQi starts at 2,599 euros (US $2,815).