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Kasea ZE1500 & ZE2000

The Electric Scooter Comes of Age

Electrically driven vehicles were nothing more than a dream a decade ago. While it's true there was a lot of testing going on, technology had some catching up to do with our dreams in terms of making electric vehicles a reality. At the turn of the decade we finally saw commercially available hybrid cars hit the market and electric bicycles found their way into reality then as well. Finally technology has caught up to the scooter world with the Kasea ZE1500 and ZE2000 electric scooters.

And while the ZE series won't fully replace gas powered scooters as we know them today, they fill the same needs that most smaller scooters do. The ZE will get you too and from work if your home is less than 40 miles away, they can be used by scooter rental shops, they're perfect for pit bikes, residents of retirement communities, college students, RV enthusiasts and they make excellent short run delivery vehicles. Eventually they could be put to use by Motorcycle Safety Programs such as Evergreen Safety Council's Scooter Beginning Rider Course pending approval by the DOL.

The ZE's nearest competitor would be a comparable 50cc scooter such as the Honda Metropolitan or Yamaha Vino, so let's compare the difference starting with ease of use. The ZE you plug into a charger and charge it for 3.5 hours and it's ready to go for 40 miles. The 50cc scooter you fill with gas and it has a range of 80 miles before needing to be refueled. With gas at $2.50 a gallon, the ZE cost about 10% as much to recharge. There's no emissions so you ride guilt free.

Photo: While the ZE's dash looks a lot like a scooter dashboard, note the A/C reading on the left which tells you how much output is being utilized and the power meter on the right similar to a fuel level reading.

Maintenance? With a gas powered scooter you've got regular tune-ups at $70 or more an hour. Areas that need to be addressed include engine, carburetor, transmission and final drive. There's not much to the ZE other than replacing the tires, caring for the braking system and an occasional battery replacement.

And speaking of brakes, the Metropolitan features drum brakes all around, not much stopping power, but the ZE series has impressive disc brakes both front and rear. That's just the beginning of it's level of performance. The ZE also has faster acceleration, larger wheels and a longer wheel base, making it a much safer vehicle to maneuver in traffic.

Battery technology has been one of the weakest links in the chain to creating a practical electric vehicle. The ZE uses state-of-the-art silicon batteries. They charge fast, weigh less and have larger storage capacity than typical lead/acid or nickel/zinc configurations.

Bt no battery lasts forever. With typical lead/acid or nickel/zinc batteries you're looking at replacing them every 7,500 to 10,000 miles. The ZE series has a lifetime of 20,000 miles. Show me a small scooter with 20,000 miles on it and I'll sell you a bridge. The point here is, with the ZE even in heavy use the battery will outlast the typical ownership period of the scoot.

What about that drive system? Unlike previous electric scooters to reach the market, the ZE series doesn't use brush motors and belt drive type technology, instead it goes beyond that to incorporate a brushless motor directly at the rear wheel. The controller is German technology allowing a top speed of 36-38 mph. The end result is less weight, higher speed and less moving parts. Need a little boosts? The ZE features a power burst button that can be utilized for 90 seconds per charge. This provides additional power to climb hills faster and accelerate quickly when needed. No stock 50cc scooter can provide this type of acceleration.

Photo: At left the controller system provides the necessary information to the power plant which is designed directly into the rear wheel.

In terms of storage capacity, the ZE offers all the same space as it's gas counterparts including a locking glove box and enough room for a full face helmet under the seat. The rear seat rack will accommodate an additional luggage box.

When we get down to dollars and cents, the ZE looks a little pricey. $2,195 gets you the 1500 watt model, while $2,900 gets you the 2000 watter. Looks like a lot on the front end, but the scoot pays for itself with reduced fuel and maintenance costs and depending of where you live and the mood of the US Government from year to year, you may be able to take a few tax deductions for owning a fully electric vehicle.

So while electric technology still has a way to go, the ZE proves it's here for the masses now.

PT/Winter 2006


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