Vectrix electric scooter: Power to the planet

Susie Mesure swaps her Vespa for a Vectrix, the UK's first credible electric scooter, and has an eco-cool ride


Specifications

Model: Vectrix Maxi-Scooter
Engine: 125cc classification
Top speed: 62mph
Travel distance between charges: up to 68 miles
Estimated battery life: 10 years
Recharge: takes two hours from a standard 110/220V power socket
Acceleration: from 0 to 50mph in 7 seconds
Brakes: DAaRT system. Twist throttle forward to slow down Price: £6,900

Green-minded commuters know that they have one real option when it comes to getting somewhere in a hurry: pedal faster. And if that means arriving hot, tired and dressed in an unappealing ensemble of skin-tight Lycra, well, so be it. At least you are saving the environment.

But thanks to a revolution in two-wheel commuting, even the laziest of us can wear our green credentials on our sleeves and still get to work quickly. The challenge to bicycles comes from the UK's first credible electric scooter, which is to be launched this autumn. Unlike its predecessors, it promises not only to match its petrol-glugging rivals, but also to exceed their performance. And have a decent battery life to boot.

The Vectrix electric scooter will open a new door into the world of green motoring. For little more effort than the flick of a wrist, commuters can speed through clogged roads, leaving even cyclists in their wake if they really open the throttle. (The machine claims to have a top speed of 62mph, although I struggled to hit this during my test ride.)

In terms of appearance, even the most ardent petrolhead would have to admit that the Vectrix holds its own. Modelled on its petrol-fuelled counterparts, the Vectrix is aiming to appeal to more than just the worthy lentil-munching crowd that favours push-bikes for their planet-saving qualities. The look and feel of the scooter is just like any other, although the weight of the battery makes it more unwieldy than, say, my Vespa ET4. That extra weight is justified, argues Vectrix's UK managing director Alex Bamberg, because it has the acceleration and top speed of a bike with a 400cc engine.

One of the beauties of the Vectrix is that you do not need a full motorcycle licence to ride it. A Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) certificate will suffice. And yet it accelerates quicker and moves faster than anything that the CBT enables you to drive with a petrol engine. There is ample power and room to cope with a second passenger and, what's more, that person won't need to dismount on encountering a hill. "With the Vectrix, there's nothing to cause you to have to apologise for being green," says Bamberg.

Getting going couldn't be simpler - providing that the battery is charged. A full battery keeps going for five hours on urban roads, or for 70 miles at a stretch if you take the bike out into the country.

Unlike mobile phone or iPod batteries, the Vectrix battery prefers to be charged as it empties rather than when it has completely run out of juice. It plugs into a standard power socket and takes around two hours to charge fully. The battery is designed to cope with 1,700 full discharges before dying completely, which translates into about 50,000 miles. But if you're careful to keep plugging it in, you're more likely to run out of roads than battery life.

Out on the road, riding the bike feels, somewhat bizarrely, like flying in an aeroplane. There is the same quiet hum, and accelerating down a quiet street felt a little like taking off. Or maybe it just reminded me of flying because the electric engine made me think of those buggy-type vehicles that airport staff use to transport the elderly and the infirm along all those miles of corridors.

The steering was a little cumbersome, given that I am used to riding a smaller, lighter bike, but that's certainly something with which I could come to terms.

The Vectrix prototype that I tried had conventional brakes, but these may well disappear before the Vectrix actually hits the shops this autumn. Instead, to slow down, you simply twist the throttle away from you. It feels strange at first, but oddly comforting after a while. To help me cope with the extra weight, the Vectrix actually glides backwards if you twist the throttle away from you when the bike is stationary. The reverse function is particularly handy when it comes to parking the bike.

The only downside of going green on a Vectrix is the hole that buying one will leave in your wallet. The bike will retail at close to £6,900 - around three times the price of a new Vespa ET4. That said, the running costs are vastly lower than for a petrol bike. There is no MOT, no road tax and no charges for parking on car meters or at a pay-and-display bay for those times when the designated scooter bays are full.

And anyway, isn't the thought of saving the planet priceless?

Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
PROMOTED VIDEO
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

    Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

    Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

    Day In a Page

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect