The Peugeot Scoot’elec is considered to be the first successful mass-market electric scooter.
It was based on and shared many parts with Peugeot’s entry-level gas scooter, the Zenith. Although the electric bike’s 40 km (25 mile) range was not met with much excitement, the performance and expected operating costs were. As fast or faster than its conventionally-powered twin, estimated energy costs for an average year – 4000km of use – was expected to cost around 16 Euro, or $23!
The Scoot’elec shared both body panels and suspension components with the Zenith, but differed greatly in the frame. The on-board charger, controller, and cord are stored beneath the seat, leaving only an irregularly-shaped cubby up front for storage. The electric model used a low-slung twin-cradle design, allowing the three heavy batteries to be placed below and behind the rider’s feet, keeping the center of gravity low. These three 6V Saft-brand monobloc NiCads provided the scoot with both its power and also its Achilles heel. Requiring dealer-only service every 2000km, it was said that the cost of maintenance on the batteries could easily cost more than twice as much as the cost to charge it for a year! On the other hand, an 80% charge on normal (220V in Europe) house current took only about 2 hours, making it a truly useful urban scooter.
To operate the bike, one inserts and turns on the key, then a 4 digit code is entered on the keypad. The bike is now ready for “Roll Handling” mode, limited to 6 km/h (< 4 mph); a press of the right thumb on the yellow button, and “Road” mode, or normal operation is enabled. Top speed in Road mode is legally limited to 45 km/h, although it is well accepted that the Scoot’elec could do 55 km/h, but not for long! In normal operation, range was estimated at 40 km – in stop-and-go riding, it was a bit less. An “Eco” mode was also available, by either choice or necessity. If one desired longer range but slower speed, a code could be entered into the keypad limiting speed to 30 km/h (19 mph); if one ignored the “charge now!” warning lights, Eco mode would automatically be engaged, whether desired or not!
Much was learned during the Scoot’elec’s off-and-on 10 year cycle. Peugeot is France’s #1 scooter manufacturer, and #3 in Europe. With growing public acceptance and increasing urban infrastructure, Peugeot is poised to take advantage of today’s Green Movement.
Manufacturer: Motorcycles-Peugeot, a wholly owned subsidiary of Société Anonyme
Country of Origin: France
Drivetrain Configuration: 3 x 6V electric batteries powering motor
Engine: 2.8 kW DC Electric Motor (50cc equivalent)
Transmission: belt drive
Weight: 253 lb (115 kg)
Top Speed: 31 mph
Years of Production: 1996-2006, with interruptions
Number Produced: 3,500
Original Cost: Unknown