Be.e bio-based electric scooter takes crowdfunding path
By C.C. Weiss
July 8, 2014
Plenty of scooter manufacturers make claims about helping out the environment with zero-emissions electric powertrains. The Be.e, which is live on Kickstarter this month, packs some extra green credentials in its back pocket, combining electric power with a bio-based monocoque frame.
We're quite used to seeing the term "composite monocoque" here at Gizmag, but usually it's a carbon fiber chassis made for a race or sports car. The natural composite structure of the Be.e scooter, the first product from Dutch firm Van.Eko, was a bit of a change in formula when we covered it last year. Since then, we've come to learn that the scooter's monocoque is actually a mix of 90 percent non-woven hemp fiber and 10 percent woven flax fiber infused with a bio-based resin. Van.Eko says the design makes the scooter light, stiff, durable and easy to handle.
The Be.e's features and specs have remained much the same as they were last July, though Van.Eko is offering both 2.5-kWh and 5-kWh battery options for between 55 and 160 km (34 and 99 mi) of range, depending upon factors like speed and driving conditions. The battery sends its power to a 4-kW electric rear hub motor that pushes the 209 lb (95 kg) two-person scooter to speeds up to around 36 mph (58 km/h).
Beyond the zero emissions powertrain and bio-based construction, Van.Eko has one more bone to throw the eco-friendly crowd. It envisions employing Be.e scooters in an urban sharing program in its home country. The idea is for so-called "Be.eKeepers" to rent a scooter for a monthly fee of around €250 (US$340). They will then be able to offer the scooter for hourly rental to "WannaBe.es" who can use it for things like traveling around the city for the afternoon.
Van.Eko's Kickstarter campaign reflects the mixed use it envisions for the Be.e. Not only can crowd funders put down €4,500 to €5,700 (US$6,125 to $7,700) plus €450 shipping outside the Netherlands for purchase, Netherlands-based parties can pledge €50 or more for short-term rentals and trials. Van.Eko hopes to raise €150,000 to begin Be.e production and get scooters out to Kickstarters by mid 2015.