Gruebel on GOVECS eScooters
Thomas Gruebel has aged a bit since we last met at an e-Max sponsored dealers meeting in San Antonio, Texas half a decade ago. Hopefully, he's also a much wiser man; he certainly is a determined one. Trying to build a European-style scooter in China provided more of a challenge than he imagined. In time, he found the company in other people's hands and eventually sold to a group in Australia.
Back in Germany, he and some of his former associates from the original e-Max, along with some colleagues from the then-bankrupt Vectrix in Europe decided to pool their efforts and launch a new electric scooter line with production in Poland and marketing in Germany. Officially launched in April of 2009 and starting selling their first model, the C1.4 one year later. While that model has now been discontinued, it has now begun sales of the S2.4, as well as getting its European distribution network in order. One of its largest orders to date is from RWE, the Germany utility, who is reselling the units with an energy package.
The company has developed three basic models (illustrated below), each offered with either an advanced lead acid (silicon) battery or lithium polymer, the latter offering a driving range per charge up to 65 miles (100km) when traveling steadily at 45 km/h (27 mph). Top speed for the higher Plus (+) line S2.4 is 62 km/h (38 mph).
Based on his 12 years involvement in electric scooter development, Gruebel and company decided to avoid using electric hub motors, preferring instead to use a frame mounted brushless DC motor driving the rear axle through a 1:6 ratio belt drive. The scooters are currently available in nine European countries, with U.S. DOT certification tests currently underway and expected to be concluded by November 2011. Gruebel is hoping to find a North American distributor for GOVECS.
One other unique aspect of the company is its agreement with Bosch, with whom he has an agreement to provide maintenance and repair support through 150 Bosch service centers in Europe. He expects to provide similar support in North America.
The scooters are premium priced compared to much cheaper Chinese imports, but GOVECS is also offering a 24 month warranty. In the Europe, the top-of-the-line S2.4 -- which this year won the 2011 E-Scooter of the Year award -- sells for the equivalent of just under US$8,0000. More information on the company and its full product line is available on their web site at http://www.govecs.com/index.php.
This video is divided in two roughly 12-minute segments. Be sure to also watch Part 2.
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