Back in October we wrote about a quirky, foldable smart scooter from one of the co-founders of Mophie. Unlike some Indiegogo campaigns, which end in utter failure, the Immotor Go has actually made it into production — it goes on sale today on Amazon — and last month I got to ride one of the first few production models. There was surprisingly a lot to like. But it’s not something I’d spend anywhere near $1,500 on — yet.
The Immotor Go is different from other electric scooters in a few ways. The biggest difference is that this is not a scooter that you kick to ride. It only goes when you use the throttle, which (like the brake on the opposite handlebar) is fairly responsive. The scooter gets up to near its top speed of 20 miles per hour rather quickly, and I never felt like it was jerking me around — in other words, the performance of the motors has been carefully tuned. It also has three wheels — two at the back, one at the front. This helps with stability, as do the air-cushioned tires and the (adjustable) suspension on each wheel.
In theory, this should all be enough for what Immotor imagines people using this scooter for: commuting. It’s fast enough to keep up in bike lanes, stable enough to maneuver around pedestrian traffic, and can easily tuck away in a corner of your office or home. (It’s not particularly easy to lug around at 27 pounds, though.)
Unfortunately, one of the things that distinguishes this scooter from the competition is also where the riding experience starts to fall apart. The scooter is foldable — maybe “compactable” is a better word for it — and is heavy on plastic. There are three forms it can take. There’s the completely unfolded riding mode, a semi-compacted setup where you can use it to carry a bag of groceries, and the folded-up mode, where you can pull the scooter behind you like a piece of luggage.
Foldable scooters and bikes, while made to be light and travel-ready, are typically still made of sturdy metals, which helps make up for the fact that they’re not completely rigid. Riding the Immotor Go around the uneven streets that surround our office in downtown Manhattan, the handles and the main stalk of the scooter rattled over every bump and creaked with every turn. While the scooter handled that terrain better than I thought it would — I never felt like I was about to be thrown off, which is good — it wasn’t a very comfortable ride.
It’s a shame, because there’s a lot to like about what Immotor is doing here. For one thing, the scooter’s batteries are swappable. They’re each about the size of a small thermos, and can be removed and replaced with a fresh one in a matter of seconds. The scooter gets around 8-9 miles of range on one battery, and up to 17 on two, depending on how aggressively you ride. Immotor is also making a cap that you can throw on the ends of the batteries that will have both standard USB and Type-C ports so that you can use the batteries to charge your devices. These are all great traits to look for in a small electric vehicle that you might use for city commutes.
I was also, frankly, surprised by the Immotor Go’s suite of smart features. Other scooters have these in bits and pieces, like a screen that shows battery level and speed, but the Immotor Go has the most complete smart feature offering I’ve seen. Within the app you can set a geofencing border, limit the top speed of the scooter, and receive all sorts of statistics about each ride, or your overall riding patterns. You can “share” the scooter with others in the app, too, which could be useful for businesses or campuses that want to use these in a fleet capacity. Built-in GPS, Bluetooth, and 3G radios (with a one-year data plan included in the price for the latter) that enable all of this.
In my short time with the Immotor Go, the scooter felt more like a prototype than a production vehicle. And with a wealth of personal electric vehicles available at or under the $1,500, the Immotor Go is up against some tough competition. With some refinement, I think the company’s approach could work, especially in the fleet settings — a section of the market that one of Immotor’s competitors, Urb-E, has basically built its entire early existence around. This version of the Immotor Go is proof that the company can coherently combine valuable smart features, electric motors, and a foldable design. Now it just needs to work on polishing the final package.