One Kuty of a Skooter
By Bill Moore
Two-part Skype video interview with XKuty e-bike CEO Carlos Felipe on how a classroom project became one of the cutest little electric scooters in Europe.
It all began as a class project in Alicante, Spain on the Mediterranean coast. Most of the students in Carlos Felipe's business class were older adults looking to further their education. Challenged to come up with a viable business idea, his students winnowed down their choices to transportation, which always seems to be a pretty 'sexy' topic given Tesla's unprecedented success. But instead of dreams of supercars, the class agreed that electric bikes would be an appropriate enterprise to explore.
By the end of the semester they had not only identified the market and the product, but agreed to actually form a company to build it. That project became XKuty. Dubbed an 'electric bike,' it has no pedals. In fact, it is more motor scooter than anything else, albeit and extraordinarily light one at just 42 kg (92 lbs). Felipe jokes that it's in the 'nowhere' land between a bicycle and a motorcycle.
According to Felipe, who also is the company CEO, the average commuting distance in Spain is 15 km (9.3 mi). The XKuty was designed around this distance. Its 1,500W rear hub motor - to be upgraded shortly to 2,500W - can propel it at 25 km/h and its lithium-ion battery gives it a range of up to 100 km (62 mi). Unlike other competing models like the GenZe or the Gogoru, the battery in the XKuty is not removable, the reason being that the scooter will have enough range to get to rider to and from work without having to be recharged but once a week, presumably on the weekend.
After coming up with a design, the fledgling company built is first prototype and exhibited it at a local museum, and in the process attracted a lot of both local and international attention and acclaim. That, in turn, attracted capital, enough so for them to concentrate on refining the design and building their first 100 units, which were largely used for consumer testing.
By Year Two, the company was ready to start looking for an assembly plant and begin the European homologation process. In some European countries, the XKuty is considered a motor scooter and requires plates and license to operate, while in others, like Netherlands, it is considered a bicycle, even though it doesn't have pedals.
Two additional spin-offs of the project is their iPhone-enabled helmet and their solar charging station, a prototype of which is pictured above. In the case of the helmet, the XKuty is Apple-iOS compliant with their App not only communicating wirelessly with the bike, displaying speed, distance, battery state-of-charge, but also connecting with headphones in the helmet, allowing the rider to listen to music or make phone calls.
To date, the company has built 250 of the bikes, which are priced starting at 2,980€ (VAT included). Orders are coming in from all over the world. Not bad for a classroom project.
Be sure to listen to the entire 30-minute interview in MP3 audio below for the full story. And learn more about the XKuty on their website.
Originally published: 23 Sep 2015
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