Monday, August 4, 2008

Vectrix Electric Scooter Another Failure?

With the high cost of gas I have spent the past month looking into alternative transportation. With the Vectrix Electric Scooter getting so much attention locally and nationally I have read and talked to local dealers, trying to determine if they are really worth the investment. For a variety of reasons I have decided the Vectrix Maxi is not worth the price, at least not now.

In my state they are considered a motorcycle and must be treated as such. The same laws that apply to all motorcycle riders in the state i.e. motorcycle endorsement, license and registration, insurance, etc. applies to scooters. This is a good thing, since these vehicles are designed for use in normal traffic and on public roads. As sales for scooters have increased a problem with driver's license endorsement has come to light. The scooters by their very nature and size are far more maneuverable during a road test than larger less maneuverable motorcycles. This makes receiving a motorcycle endorsement easier. People that have no experience with motorcycles sometimes believe, since they have the endorsement, they can simply jump on a larger Harley, Honda, or some other motorcycle and it will be the same experience. Most find out there is a world of difference.

You will find on other sites glowing reviews for the electric scooters but I have found there is more hope and marketing hype than there is truth. Sites like,, and the Office of the Mayor Providence, RI are not being completely honest. This is also true of the local dealers I have spoken to in my state. It seems they are more interested in making a sale than full disclosure of the capabilities the Victrix Maxi. There are plenty of other misleading ads currently running on youtube.

Sales have risen in 2008 but in 2007 out of
2,002 vehicles built only 123 sold to actual customers. Reference autobloggreen.

Checking out the official website of Vectrix I discovered the truth may not be the same as all the hype I have read and been told by the dealer. One local dealer told me you could achieve 50 miles on a single charge at 62 miles per hour. He said the hills and mountainous terrain would have no effect on the range or speed. He also lead me to believe the warranty on the battery was 10 years. Here are the facts from Vectrix:

Constant SpeedRange
25 mph65 miles
35 mph54 miles
40 mph48 miles
45 mph44 miles
50 mph36 miles
60 mph20 miles

Notice that for every 10 mph increase, your range decreases an average of 11 miles before the battery is depleted.

In the Q and A section the following info came out concerning range:

Q: Does Acceleration Affect Range?


Acceleration is the rate which you are attempting to increase the speed of your Maxi-Scooter. The greater the acceleration the faster you are depleting the energy in the battery pack. The harder and more frequently you accelerate the more adversely you will affect the range of your Maxi-Scooter. Being "first off the line" means you will also be the first to drain your energy supply.
Hard Acceleration = Reduced Range

Q: Does Weight Affect Range?


The Vectrix Maxi-Scooter at approximately 500 lbs plus a 180 lb driver equates to a gross vehicle weight of 680 lbs. If you add 50 pounds of cargo the total weight you are attempting to move is 730 pounds or 7.3% increase in weight. If then you add a 175 pound passenger the total weight is 905 lbs or a total weight increase of 33%! The more mass you are pushing/lifting the more energy it takes to accomplish the mission. Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your Maxi-Scooter since it will impact your range.
Added Weight = Reduced Range

Q: Why Do I Get Less Range at Higher Speeds?


It takes more energy to push a Maxi-Scooter faster because you encounter aerodynamic resistance. The faster you attempt to travel the more important this factor becomes. Also it is a fundamental characteristic of battery energy storage systems that the amount of energy you are able to extract from the battery is inversely proportional to the rate at which you drawing out the energy. If a battery pack is rated for 30 Ah if you draw 10 amperes of current you will deliver more energy that if you are drawing 100 amperes of current. Bottom line is that the more conservative you drive the further you will travel on single charge.
Faster Speed = Reduced Range

Factor in all of these variables and the distance I could travel would be extremely limited in my area. Another reason I have my doubts about Vectrix or any other electric scooter came from reading some of the posts of people that own Maxi Scooters, most are not good. Anyone interested should go to: V is for Voltage Forum.

It is hard to tell if this type of vehicle will last with the general publics interest or not. At a cost of $11,000 one thing is for certain, sales will not pick up in this area for years to come. These type of vehicles may be fine in Paris, Rome, or Berlin but I don't see a future for them in America.

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  1. Perhaps you'll like their $5000 new bike with increased range out next year.

  2. I am the owner of the V is for Voltage forum and found your posting very interesting. It's true that if you travel at high speed you'll get a shorter range. This is true for gas cars, by the way, since gas cars are less fuel efficient at high speed. Maybe it's a little worse with EV's but the effect you note is true for all EV's. It's a little frustrating hearing people who read the manufacturer specs and expect it to deliver the maximum range AND maximum speed at the same time. What's reality is you can get the max speed or the max range but not both at the same time. Finally, my impression of the reports by the V members is they're mostly happy. There are a few problems and in one case one member had some very serious problems. And of course it's not perfect. But me, as a non-Vectrix owner, am totally jealous of what they're doing with their Vectrii.

  3. Thanks for the comments. Let me make it clear that I am not opposed to new technology, especially electric vehicles. I am opposed to disinformation and the wild promises made by some distributors and dealers of all types of new vehicles hitting the market. Electric vehicles are nothing new, I have 20 yrs of experience operating and performing maintance on electric vehicles. The biggest drawbacks to electric vehicles are twofold and the public must be made aware of them. I think you will agree they are battery capability and charging systems. Unlike electric vehicles the only factor involved with range in gas cars is the size of your gas tank. It is not true that today's cars are less efficient at highwy speeds than at lower city speed. Example 20 mpg city vs 30 mpg highway.
    My only problem with electric vehicle dealers and enthusiasts of electric vehicles is the fact that some are not being completely honest in promoting these vehicles. Until they solve the long list of problems,
    a) overheating during charging cycle
    b) everytime the battery is charged it reduces the life cycle of the battery
    c) everytime the battery is drained it can effect the life cycle of the battery
    d) continually charging a battery for short periods of time 20-30 minutes will eventually destroy a battery and reduce its life expectancy by half
    e) upredictibilty of todays's batteries, due to a wide range of factors such as weather, operating conditions, overcharging, undercharging, poor maintenance, and the replacement cost of the bateries....
    eletric vehicless cannot replace everyday gas cars.

    These are all factors the general population must be made aware of or people will buy these vehicles and become dissatisfied when they head out on a long journey and become stranded. This will lead to another period of electric vehicles getting a bad rap and set the industry back another 20-30 yrs.

    If the industry ever comes up with a viable charging system such as a stator/regulator unit built into the rear wheel and smaller rechargeable batteries allowing a person to charge one set of batteries while operating the vehicle on another set of batteries, then electric vehicles will truly be an alternative to gas cars.

  4. Hey I am Vectix owner and I am very happy with the product. Its actually exceeded my expectations. Its a niche product for sure which is why they probably cannot sell the bike in quantity. Its got a limit in range and price is not great if you just want to save money. For me EV is more than just about money.

    Anyways I finally bought a Vectrix this year because a local motorcycle dealer recently started to sell the bikes and provide full support for the bikes in their shop. I hope the company keeps pushing to get more local resellers in high density cities where a EV scooter makes sense.

    I live in San Jose silicon valley which is a pretty big city and it took Vectrix two years to get a local dealer. The other closest dealer was in SF which was 50 miles away too far to drive one home and too far to get support if I needed the bike repaired.

    I actually save commute time riding my vectrix verses my car, get free power from my work which supports EV, and its way more fun to ride my vectrix verses sitting in rush hour traffix jams in my four wheeler.

    To me this was a all gain very little pain purchase. I am also glad to reduce my dependence on oil which is why I looked into this bike in the fist place.

    If my battery ever dies which may happen since the Vectrix only warrantys the battery for 50K miles, I hope they will have a LiIon upgrade so that I can double my range. That would be awesome.

    I just hope the company does not go bankrupt as you eluded to in your post.

  5. Vectric closed its doors July 13th. To bad, so sad, its over.

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