Chinese startup NIU is bringing its Vespa-style electric mopeds in the United States. The company says it made its slick and somewhat affordable electric two-wheelers available for purchase in San Francisco, San Diego, Austin, Chicago, Washington, DC, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Honolulu, and it’s spinning up sales operations in some of those cities right now.
NIU (not to be confused with electric vehicle startup NIO) is perhaps best known Stateside, if it’s known at all, because it supplies the vehicles for the shared moped service Revel. Revel launched last year in New York City with 1,000 of NIU’s mopeds, and it has since expanded to some of the cities NIU is now targeting, including Washington, DC, Austin, and most recently, Miami. The service is fairly affordable, and I found it to be a great way to get around Brooklyn in the warmer months. I especially liked it as a ride-hailing replacement.
But use shared services too much, and the costs can really add up. That’s why it’s exciting to see that NIU is starting to sell the vehicles directly in the US. The company says the entry-level models will start in the mid-$2,000 range, which seems appropriate. That’s roughly twice as expensive as some top-flight electric bikes, but it’s cheaper than any electric motorcycle.
NIU’s mopeds are typically quick and nimble, with ranges as low as around 25 miles and as high as over 100 miles. They’re also connected. NIU has built out an impressive companion smartphone app that can track the mopeds via GPS, turn them on or off, or let users check vehicle diagnostics. NIU can also ship over-the-air software updates to add features, make changes, or fix problems with the mopeds.
Taiwanese company Gogoro teased its impressive electric scooter at CES five years ago, but it has kept its focus trained on its home country ever since. It’s been frankly painful to watch the US lag behind the electric scooter revolution, so NIU’s arrival is something of a sight for sore eyes. It’s possible that US consumers might not take to a Chinese startup that’s collecting that much data, especially in the wake of the US government’s increased resistance to companies like DJI and Huawei. Even if that becomes the case, though, let’s at least hope the arrival of NIU’s mopeds inspires more companies to test the waters in the US.