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The Evolution of E-Scooters

The Evolution of E-Scooters

It’s been less than 10 years since e-scooters were introduced to New Zealand, but they’ve had a game-changing impact. But how did e-scooters go from being a novelty to a must-have for getting around? Storm Rides, one of NZ’s most reputable retailers of e-scooters, is here to take you on a journey through the exciting evolution of these nifty rides.


When Did Electric Scooters First Come Out?

1915 was a groundbreaking year for scooters when the world’s first motorised scooter, the Autoped, was launched in New York City. It was the brainchild of US inventor Arthur Hugo Cecil Gibson, who wanted to create “a vehicle which will be extremely small, compact, and light…”.

Weighing over 45 kg and equipped with a collapsible steering rod and a speed of 30 mph, the Autoped did indeed bring Gibson's vision of streamlined and nimble urban mobility to life.

Back when they were launched, Autopeds were sold for just $100, equivalent to USD 2,718 in today's money. People from all walks of life were using them back then, from fixtures of high society to gang members, traffic officers, postal delivery men, and even suffragettes like Lady Florence Norman, who rode her electric scooter to work in London!

Pioneer Suffragette Lady Florence Norman riding her Autoped e-scooter to work in London
Pioneer Suffragette Lady Florence Norman riding her Autoped e-scooter to work in London, 1916. Image credit: Unknown author, Lady Florence Norman, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons.

Arthur Hugo Cecil Gibson would be proud of how far his creation has come since its humble beginnings. Today’s electric scooters are built with the same vision of compactness and lightweight design but excel with new technological advancements.

New Jersey traffic cop Timothy Porter rides an Autoped e-scooter to untangle traffic tie-ups
New Jersey traffic cop Timothy Porter rides an Autoped e-scooter to untangle traffic tie-ups. Image credit: The Bismarck tribune, Autoped in Newark - historical photo - 1922, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons.

Take the Kaabo Wolf King GT Pro at Storm Rides, for instance. It's sleek, powerful, and has features to easily tackle urban streets and off-road terrains. The dual 2000w motors and impressive 100 km/h top speed make the Wolf King GT Pro a far cry from the Autoped of the 1900’s.

Explore the latest electric scooters at Storm Rides to see more uber-cool models like the Wolf King GT Pro. Don’t forget to check out our review of the top 15 e-scooters in New Zealand while you’re here.

When Did E-Scooters Become Popular?

The e-scooter craze kicked off with manufacturers mainly based in China. They started producing a range of different scooter models using similar parts from local suppliers. While this was good for saving money, it meant that the market got flooded with tons of scooters that all looked pretty much the same but had different brand names.

Companies called OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) manufacturers, like Titan and Unicool, were key players during this time. They made scooters without any branding, and then other companies in places like the Western world and Europe put their own logos on them and sold them. So, customers ended up with a bunch of scooter brands that were really just the same scooters with different names.

You could hardly tell one scooter brand from another in this early stage. Apollo scooters, for instance, closely resembled some Zero models. New Zealand's Sonic range bore a striking resemblance to early Zero scooters. It was an age of similarity rather than innovation.

Models like the Kaabo Mantis 8+, with its dual 800w motors, high IPx5 rating and long-lasting Li-ion 2.3 Ah battery, are a testament to how far electric scooters have evolved from their humble beginnings. 

As the e-scooter market matured and their popularity continued to surge, brands recognised the need to differentiate themselves. They began investing in their own research and development, crafting unique designs and engineering custom components to stand out.

One striking example is the evolution of the Zero brand into Vsett. Originally an OEM manufacturer, Zero underwent a transformation, giving birth to a new brand.
However, the fundamental change was in the design philosophy and engineering.

Meanwhile, Kaabo started developing their own scooters, creating products with custom-designed internal components, including controllers. This shift marked the beginning of a new era in e-scooter development.

You'll notice significant differences if you compare scooters from five years ago to today. Brands are now investing in advancing their products to carve out distinct identities in the market. This evolution has blurred the lines between what was once a sea of similar scooters.

The Growth of E-Scooter Brands: Kaabo, Apollo Lead the Way in Innovation and Variety

Nowadays, it's important to know the difference between e-scooter brands that offer something special and those that are essentially "sticker" brands, selling products that share the same production line.

Take Zero, for example; they've stayed pretty consistent over the years, while Vsett has seen limited development recently.

On the other hand, companies like Kaabo and Apollo have made significant strides through ongoing investments in research and development. They've pushed the boundaries, introducing new types of scooters that cater to a wide range of preferences.

From high-end commuters like the Kaabo Mantis 10 Base and Apollo City Pro to off-road beasts from the Kaabo Wolf range, the variety of e-scooters available today is impressive. Our review of the best e-scooter brands gives a more detailed look into each brand's offerings.

Even the classic last-mile/boot scooter design, epitomised by Segway-style scooters, has not remained static. Brands like InMotion are improving styling and power while retaining the ease of use that makes this style of scooter so popular.

The Current Electric Scooter Market In New Zealand

Since electric scooters were popularised in NZ with the introduction of Lime rental scooters in October 2018 the market has witnessed a remarkable surge in popularity. They have quickly become a common sight on New Zealand's streets, from cities like Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to places like Tauranga, Rotorua and Taupo.

As evidenced by our review of the top electric scooter brands, Kaabo, InMotion, Fiido, and Emove dominate the local market. These brands have been rolling out some seriously cool rides, from the all-rounder Mantis 10 Base to the sleek Inmotion Air Pro commuter scooter and the exceptionally high-performance InMotion RS recently introduced to New Zealand.

Each e-scooter offers a wide range of options to suit everyone's tastes and needs. Whether you're a daily commuter or an off-road enthusiast, there's an e-scooter designed to cater to your specific needs. As technology continues to advance, one thing is clear: the evolution of e-scooters is far from over, and the future promises even more exciting innovations in this space.

So, the next time you hop on an e-scooter, remember that it's not just a scooter; it's the result of an ever-evolving journey of innovation and creativity!

Electric Scooter Buyers Guide/Last Words of Advice:

  1. Custom Consult: visit your local Storm Rides dealer or jump on our web chat to speak to someone who lives and breathes e-scooters to make sure you get great advice.
  2. Value Matters: too cheap, and you will regret it; buying a cheap sub $1k scooter that you have to replace in six months absolutely sucks when for another few hundred bucks, you could have had an awesome scooter from a legit brand.
  3. Check the Specs: we have an at-a-glance table of the main specs for each product, such as range, top speed, best use case, etc., relevant to a typical ride. Read more about e-scooter IP ratings here.
  4. Finance Options: Check out our wide range of Finance options, including multiple different Buy Now Pay Later and other options like GEM and Q Card
  5. Warranty: make sure there is an NZ-backed Warranty, and that parts for the specific electric scooter you’re interested in are stocked in New Zealand. We get endless calls for parts for unsupported scooters sold by unscrupulous sellers who have often since disappeared.
  6. Have a Test Ride or Watch Videos: There are great reviews on YouTube, especially the amazing work by the team at Rider Guide.


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