Vectrix has cut back operations and may be preparing for a bankruptcy filing. The dealers with Vectrix scooters remaining in their inventory are likely to be offering them at substantially reduced prices.
“Hey, that’s a cool scooter – what is it?”
“It’s a Vectrix electric scooter.”
“Wow, so it’s one of those hybrids huh?”
“No, it’s all-electric, you just plug it in to recharge it.”
“Cool, I’ll bet it gets really good gas mileage.”
“Ummm, it doesn’t use ANY gas; it’s a zero emissions electric scooter.”
“So how many cc is the engine? 250? 400?”
Variations of the above conversation occurred every day, sometimes more than once a day, while I was testing the Vectrix All-Electric scooter. After a few days, I was beginning to wonder if the USA is ready to accept a zero-emissions all-electric scooter. After spending some time with the Vectrix, I certainly hope it will do well in this market because it’s an outstanding choice for alternative transportation.
Vectrix was founded in 1996 with the sole objective of providing clean, efficient, reliable urban transportation. Starting in 2007, customers in Europe and the USA began taking delivery of the Vectrix all-electric scooter. Charles Schram from Vectrix and Bob Hedstrom from Scooterville were kind enough to facilitate this review. I had the Vectrix for several days, shared it with several riders, and used it as my primary transportation for a couple of “ordinary” work-days.
Speedometer Reading/Speed/Fuel Economy
I start with this information in my reviews, because it’s the kind of thing that most people ask about right off the bat. It was little tougher this time because I had to come up with a replacement for “fuel economy” with the Vectrix. The speedometer was darn near spot on. This is rare in a scooter (or a motorcycle for that matter) with most of them reading 5% – 10% optimistic. That is, they indicate faster than the actual speed. I checked the Vectrix with a GPS unit and it was very accurate. The Vectrix tops out at near 65 MPH and feels like it could handle faster speeds. It’s not so much the top speed as how quickly the Vectrix accelerates. This thing is QUICK. It easily out-accelerated my Kymco People 250.
Now let’s see….. fuel economy….. I guess in this part of the country we could talk about how much coal it takes to fire the Vectrix, or maybe say that its atomic powered, or even hydro. However you get YOUR electricity, the Vectrix will consume relatively little of it. I ran several tests and found that it takes about 4.67 KwH to recharge the Vectrix from a very low battery condition. Here in Minnesota, that amounts to about 33 cents. One example was a day in which I put a mix of highway and city riding on the Vectrix for a total of 36 miles. It took 4.56 KwH to charge, or LESS THAN ONE CENT PER MILE.
In my riding, the Vectrix showed a range of capabilities that was directly tied to the average constant speed. At low speeds, say about 35 MPH, the Vectrix should give you about 50 miles before needing a charge. At higher speeds, like 55 MPH, it falls off to 28 miles before needing juice.
Let’s start with the basic specifications. I’m not going to do a comparison chart, because there really isn’t anything to compare the Vectrix to. The Vectrix has a MSRP (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) of $8,795 and carries a 2-year warranty. The “engine” and “transmission” in this scooter are a brushless DC motor with peak power at the shaft of 21 kW and an integrated rear-wheel mounted planetary gear drive. The wheelbase is 60 inches, weight is 510 pounds, and seat height is 30.5 inches. The front suspension is a telescopic Marzocchi fork and the rear suspension is handled by Sachs twin shocks. The Pirelli tires are 120/70-14 on the front and 140/60-13 on the back. The front and rear brakes are discs and they should last quite a while as I barely used them during my testing (more on that in just a minute).
There is ample storage under the rear seat – it easily held my XXL ¾ helmet AND my small messenger bag. The glove-box up front is deep and easy to access. Protection from the elements is good with nice coverage from the body and windscreen. I got just a little buffeting at high speeds, but it wasn’t bad. The seating is very comfortable and the passenger accommodations are very nice.
OK, how about the cool features, you know, the electric stuff.
There’s a cord under the seat that is about eight feet long and plugs into any standard 110V power outlet. The dash is thorough with information and easy to read. On the right is a “gauge” that shows the relative power remaining. The speedometer is in the center, and on the left is a multi-display with time, miles remaining, odometer, and running indicators. Yeah, running indicators, you’ll need those because the Vectrix is completely silent at a stop. The Vectrix also feature regenerative braking that is engaged by turning the throttle clockwise AND a low-speed reverse, also from the throttle.
Let’s fire it up and go for a ride. Insert the key and turn it to the “on” position. Kick stand up, you’ll see the display go through a start-up – the speedometer sweeps and returns – and “ready” is indicated on the left display. Now squeeze the left brake, then the right brake, and now “go” is shown right next to ready. That’s it, You’re all set to ride.
The total lack of sound freaked me out at first. There’s just nothing there to let you know that the scooter is “running” – no sound, no vibration, nothing. Gently twist the throttle anti-clockwise and you’ll be off like a rocket. When you approach a stop, turn the throttle back to center and then turn it clockwise, the regenerative breaking will kick in. With a little practice, one need hardly use the disc brakes except in hard or quick stops. From a stop, turn the throttle clockwise and the low-speed reverse engages.
The ride is smooth, QUICK and comfortable. The handling is between good and VERY good, at speed the Vectrix feels much lighter than its 500+ pounds. I had several people ride the Vectrix including my wife Bev. She was intimidated at first because of the size and weight of the scooter, but after just a few minutes she was totally thrilled with the Vectrix. During one ride we were supposed to switch off between the Vectrix and my People 250, but I couldn’t get her off the Vectrix! She also found it to be very comfortable as a passenger and the Vectrix easily handled our combined weight even up to highway speeds. EVERYONE who tried the Vectrix was blown away by the acceleration and the handling.
Fit & Finish
The Vectrix is a mix of outstanding components and average to good fit and finish. The alignment and fit of the panels is good, but not great. The colour-coat finish is nice, but not as outstanding as scooters from companies like Honda. Overall I was satisfied with the fit and finish.
This is the tricky part – I was very impressed with the performance of the Vectrix. But is it a good scooter? At $8,795 with highway speed capability, one might be tempted to compare the Vectrix with the Suzuki Burgman or Honda Silverwing, but the Vectrix is not a viable maxi-scooter – it simply doesn’t have the highway range. The Vectrix is too expensive to compare with $4,000 – $5,000 scooters in the 250cc class like the Kymco People, SYM RV and others. So if the Vectrix is so impressive, but not really a good maxi-scooter, who is it a good choice for? If you want to have a high quality, low maintenance, CHEAP to operate, ZERO emissions urban scooter the Vectrix is for you. The Vectrix will get you around the city in comfort (and darn quickly) for pennies in energy cost. You will have a blast riding it, and you’ll be doing your part to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.
Thanks to Chuck Schram of Vectrix and Bob Hedstrom of Scooterville for facilitating this review.