I’ve wanted to drive an electric vehicle (EV) since I first realised they were a thing. After much procrastination I decided to go for a drive in a new Tesla to see what it’s all about. Tesla makes it really easy to take a test drive. Book online, show up at the showroom, and go for a drive. The car was really fancy, as you’d expect for the price, and it drove well - fast and surefooted. I was never serious about buying a Tesla and the test drive didn’t change my mind. I don’t care about fanciness, and spending $70,000 on a depreciating asset is rarely a good decision.
As someone who’s ridden motorcycles for the past twenty years I decided to look at the options for electric two-wheelers thinking this would be a more affordable way to get an EV. I discovered that electric mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles are a thing. Apparently they’re all the rage in Asia where regular commuters want a practical vehicle, but they don’t need to go very far or very fast.
Here in Australia new electric mopeds and scooters are still about twice the price of their petrol equivalents, but since their absolute cost is low the difference is easier to see past. And I’ve always enjoyed riding two-wheeled vehicles so it’s easier for me to spend money on bikes for the enjoyment rather than based entirely on financial reason.
So I bought an electric moped on the used market. A Super Soco CUx with factory Ducati graphics. Not sure why Ducati approved the use of their brand on a Chinese moped, but here we are. For $2,500 I can’t imagine a cheaper EV in the country. With only 1,300km on the clock and still under warranty it was an easy purchase.
Annual registration is $130 and annual third-party insurance is under $100 (a real Ducati wouldn’t be that cheap). From my calculations (recording the power consumption of the battery charger after riding known distances) it’s using 40Wh/km. That’s $1 per 100km if you pay for retail residential electricity. I’ve been told the only regular servicing is tyres and brakes, plus the occasional inspection. EV proponents always say EVs are cheaper to service. I’ll get to see if that assertion holds true over time.
The battery is removable so you can take it somewhere to charge it. This is a handy feature for people who don’t have access to power near where they park. Alternatively you can leave the battery in the vehicle and run a power cord to it like you would an EV car. Nice having options. Charging takes about five hours from empty and a full charge gets at least 40km of range, and up to 70km if you believe the manufacturer (which I don’t). The top speed is supposed to be limited to 50kmh for compliance reasons but I’m sure I’ve seen it slightly higher, but not by much.
So far I’m impressed with this category of EV, especially for the price I paid. Acceleration feels faster than 50cc petrol mopeds I’ve ridden previously. For short shopping trips or short commutes on residential streets it’s great. Obviously it’s useless on high speed roads or for longer distances, but I didn’t buy it for those trips. I bought it to complement my existing diesel car. It will allow me to offload many of the shorter trips that would be inefficient and wasteful in my diesel car. Baby steps towards cleaner transport.
It’s only once you drive an EV that you really appreciate how nice it is to drive something so quiet and smooth. In this regard it’s like riding a bicycle… but the lazy version. It’s also nice not having to worry about disturbing my neighbours with a diesel motor in the evening or early morning.
Having had this moped for only a few weeks so far I’m already finding it hard to imagine I’ll ever own a petrol motorbike or scooter again. I’m already looking around the electric motorbike landscape wondering which one I’ll be upgrading to next.