Scoot launches electric car rentals and plans second city expansion
Scoot is moving beyond its namesake. Today the company announced the availability of the Scoot Quad, a four-wheeled electric car from Nissan called the Mobility Concept (worst name ever) based on the Renault Twizy. The company’s fleet of scooters will be joined by 10 Quads as the company evolves into a light-electric vehicle sharing company that will soon be expanding into an unnamed second city. Mike Waltman, vice president of fleet said, “We are narrowing it down now and we expect to be the second city next year.” But the Quad is here now and I got a chance to drive it through the streets of San Francisco ahead of today’s launch.Slideshow-330491
Right off the bat, like the rest of the Scoot line, renting it easy. The company has been able to seamlessly add the little car into its app. Find a vehicle in a garage, reserve it and then when you arrive, turn it on with the app. After you complete the rather elaborate startup sequence you can start cruising around town.
The bubble of a car is more like a go cart or really awesome golf cart then a economy car. There’s a windshield and roof, but no windows in the doors which incidentally open up like a Lamborghini. It seems ostentatious until you realize the doors run the length of the car and if you want to bring a passenger along, you need the extra room.
Oh and about that passenger, they sit in the back seat. The seating situation is like a log ride or Disney’s Space Mountain ride. The passenger sits behind the driver with their legs on either side of them.
Scoot was looking for a way to let its users give rides to passengers. It’s current line of scooters don’t allow for a second person on the bike. This solution not only lets you bring along a friend, but also opens up opportunities for different types of rentals. Like showing off your city to family members when they visit or a very odd date.
On the road, the narrow wheelbase and short length make for a fun, nimble car. Then you hit 25 miles per hour and the acceleration stops (I was able to get it to 26 miles per hour once). Scoot has limited the top speed. If you’re used to driving a car, it takes a few miles to get used too. The speed limit of most streets in San Francisco is 25, so it’s technically ok. But drivers will need to avoid some of the main thoroughfares in the city so they don’t piss off other drivers. Fortunately, the acceleration isn’t damped by the speed cap. It’s on par with an economy car. Not quick, but adequate.
Slow top speed aside, I had fun driving the Quad and talking to the people that approached me when I pulled over to take photos. And people will approach you. They’re not going to see this vehicle anywhere else. You can’t buy the Mobility Concept in the United States. While Nissan has modified the vehicle for US roads, the company isn’t jumping into the market just yet. That’s where Scoot comes in. The two companies have partnered for what they are calling a “research project.” Scoot gets to expand its fleet offerings and Nissan gets data about the car in a busy urban environment.
Scoot members can start renting the Quad today if they’re fortunate enough to receive an invitation. The 10 vehicles will most likely be in high demand initially, so Scoot is slowly rolling out access to its members starting with its most active. At launch the car must be picked up and returned to select garages while the company adds the appropriate chargers to other parking spots. The price is four times that of a regular scooter rental. So instead of $2 for a 30 minutes ride, it’ll be $8. It’s pricier than the bus, but probably cheaper than Uber or a taxi.
Plus, a bit more fun.