Skip to main content

Unagi’s new electric scooter adds more range to woo more commuters

Unagi’s new electric scooter adds more range to woo more commuters


Unagi is all in on subscriptions — and maximizing range

Share this story

A folded-up, brown and white Unagi scooter.
Unagi’s new Model One Voyager comes in several colors, including a new “Latte.”
Image: Unagi

Unagi, the electric scooter maker behind one of the better micromobilty vehicles on the market right now, has a new model ready for you. It’s called the Model One Voyager, and it’s meant to last longer, ride more smoothly, and be easier to use. The only thing is: Unagi doesn’t really want you to buy one. It would much rather you subscribe to one.

David Hyman, Unagi’s CEO, is absolutely convinced that subscription is the future of scooters. Not plunking down $1,000 for one and definitely not a ride-sharing one. “It was a total fluke that electric scooters started through ride-sharing,” he says over Zoom from his California home. Bird, Lime, and the rest got people used to the idea that a scooter could be a useful vehicle for getting around, but “you’ve got to wake up, hunt, and peck for one, usually the first or second or third ones are broken, or the batteries are dead.” Buying one solves most of those problems — “it’s like your own magic carpet,” Hyman says — but comes with its own downsides. Namely, scooters are expensive and often pretty flimsy. Plus, where do you put it when you get to the restaurant?

For the last few years, Unagi has experimented with an in-between model: users pay about $50 a month to get their own Unagi Model One scooter, but Unagi handles all the maintenance and even replaces the scooter if it’s broken or stolen. Hyman compares the model to Netflix’s DVD-by-mail system — it’s stuff as a service. 

The subscription model is working for Unagi to the point where Hyman is pivoting the company around it. Already, he says, 20 people sign up for an Unagi subscription for every one who buys a scooter outright, and the company has “tens of thousands” of active scooter subscribers. Now, Unagi is launching the Voyager to try to get even more riders on board and is killing its most ambitious project ever because it doesn’t fit the model anymore. At least as far as Unagi is concerned, scooters as a service is the future of micromobility.

I’ve been an Unagi subscriber for the last few months after some back-of-the-napkin math made it clear that even my occasional rides to train stations and grocery stores were adding up to more than $50 a month. (Many of the scooter-share companies have jacked up their prices considerably over the last couple of years to make up for VC funding drying up and an early pandemic downturn.) It’s definitely less convenient since I can’t just dump my scooter on the street when I’m done with it, but knowing there’s one always available has made me trust the scooter system much more.

I now ride mine almost every day: to pick up takeout dinner, to grab a quick coffee between meetings, to hop on the subway to get to the office. Luckily, I live in a town with great roads and respectful traffic and only occasionally have to brave the truly mean streets of Washington, DC.  

A man riding a scooter quickly around New York City.
The Verge’s Andy Hawkins looks much cooler on an Unagi than I do.
Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

I’m still on the standard Model One, but I might be due for an upgrade. Unagi’s new scooter, the Model One Voyager, was built to solve one very specific problem: range. The number one reason people return their Unagis and cancel their subscriptions, Hyman says, is because the Model One’s advertised 15.5-mile range just isn’t enough. The Voyager, in comparison, is rated to last a full 25 miles on a charge, which is far more than most scooters can claim. “We’ve taken range off the table,” Hyman says. In exchange, the Voyager is slightly heavier — at 29.6 pounds, it’s just over a pound heavier than the Model One — but it’s still among the lighter models in its category. 

The Voyager also has more torque and higher peak power, charges slightly faster, and comes in a couple of new colors, including one that Hyman himself describes as Unagi’s “bougiest” color yet: a white scooter with brown accents that the company calls Latte. (It was almost creme brulee, he says, but that was a step too far.) There’s nothing game-changing in the new model — which I suppose is why it’s not called the Model Two — but it should make everyday use a little more pleasant.

There’s nothing game-changing in the new model, but it should make everyday use a little more pleasant

Unagi is also upgrading the smarts inside its scooters. The Voyager’s onboard display has been simplified and upgraded to make settings easier to find, and it also now connects to an Unagi app over Bluetooth. You can use the app to toggle your headlights, see how much you’ve ridden and how much battery remains, plus get information about maintenance issues and your subscription. The app isn’t meant to replace the functionality on the scooter itself, Hyman says, just give you another way to access it. 

An iPhone running the Unagi app.
Unagi’s app connects to its new scooters and provides info and maintenance help.
Image: Unagi

The Voyager’s new display and connectivity are also compatible with the original Model One. Part of Unagi’s subscription system involves refurbishing returned scooters and sending them out to new users, and from now on, Hyman says the company will drop in the new parts when a Model One comes back. The whole process costs $15 a scooter.

A subscription Voyager will run you $67 a month, which is $12 more than the Model One’s $55 monthly hit. You might notice even the Model One is more expensive than it used to be, sort of — the subscription itself was previously $49, and for another $5 a month, you could get theft insurance. Just about everyone ponied up the extra $5, Hyman tells me, so Unagi just decided to bake it into the base price. (Where that last dollar a month went, though, he wouldn’t say.)

You’ll be able to start your subscription through Unagi’s website, but the company’s also going to start selling scooters in Best Buy — and Hyman hints there are other brick-and-mortar partnerships to come. It’s the same theory as rideshare: the first step is just getting people to think about scooters at all, and once they do, they’re often sold.

The scooter Unagi is shipping next is more practical but vastly less ambitious than the one it has decided not to ship at all. Last fall, the company revealed Model Eleven, a $2,490 vehicle that used a multi-lens camera system to help riders avoid crashes, was created with a new material called “long carbon,” and could do turn-by-turn audio directions. It was meant to be the Tesla Roadster of scooters, with a price tag to match. 

The Model Eleven raised more than $700,000 on Indiegogo, but Unagi recently canceled the project. Hyman calls it “one of the hardest, most emotionally challenging business decisions I’ve ever made” after years of work and millions of dollars spent on its development. In the long run, Hyman says he hopes the Model Eleven’s features will appear in other Unagi devices, but it just didn’t make sense for the business anymore. Unagi is offering backers a full refund, two Voyagers, or a three-year subscription to a Voyager as compensation.

Ultimately, there will be lots of different kinds of these vehicles, probably including impossibly expensive and massively powerful scooters. Research from McKinsey and others has found that the micromobility market is growing almost any way you slice it: new vehicles, new riders, new cities, and new business models.

There won’t just be one winner, either. “If you truly want to get rid of your car and live micromobility only, or micromobility plus car sharing if you’ll do a trip outside the city, it’s going to be a combination of form factors,” McKinsey partner Kersten Heineke said recently. Hyman, too, is quick to point out that companies like Rad Power Bikes are doing cool work in the space. But he seems to still think he’s going to win in the end.

During our conversations, Hyman mentions a few times how hard it was to get the subscription service up and running. Maintenance teams, customer support services, quick shipping — it might not be as expensive as setting up fleets of chargers and mechanics in every city the way Bird and Lime have, but it hasn’t been easy. Going forward, though, he’s convinced Unagi is set up for the way people want to live with their scooters. And he’s convinced Unagi still makes the best ones.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed An hour ago The tablet didn’t call that play by itself

The Verge
Mary Beth GriggsAn hour ago
We’re about an hour away from a space crash.

At 7:14PM ET, a NASA spacecraft is going to smash into an asteroid! Coverage of the collision — called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test — is now live.

Emma RothTwo hours ago
There’s a surprise in the sky tonight.

Jupiter will be about 367 million miles away from Earth this evening. While that may seem like a long way, it’s the closest it’s been to our home planet since 1963.

During this time, Jupiter will be visible to the naked eye (but binoculars can help). You can check where and when you can get a glimpse of the gas giant from this website.

Asian America learns how to hit back

The desperate, confused, righteous campaign to stop Asian hate

Esther Wang12:00 PM UTC
Emma Roth7:16 PM UTC
Missing classic Mario?

One fan, who goes by the name Metroid Mike 64 on Twitter, just built a full-on 2D Mario game inside Super Mario Maker 2 complete with 40 levels and eight worlds.

Looking at the gameplay shared on Twitter is enough to make me want to break out my SNES, or at least buy Super Mario Maker 2 so I can play this epic retro revamp.

External Link
Russell Brandom7:13 PM UTC
The US might still force TikTok into a data security deal with Oracle.

The New York Times says the White House is still working on TikTok’s Trump-era data security deal, which has been in a weird limbo for nearly two years now. The terms are basically the same: Oracle plays babysitter but the app doesn’t get banned. Maybe it will happen now, though?

Richard Lawler6:54 PM UTC
Don’t miss this dive into Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion Pinocchio flick.

Andrew Webster and Charles Pulliam-Moore covered Netflix’s Tudum reveals (yes, it’s going to keep using that brand name) over the weekend as the streamer showed off things that haven’t been canceled yet.

Beyond The Way of the Househusband season two news and timing information about two The Witcher projects, you should make time for this incredible behind-the-scenes video showing the process of making Pinocchio.

External Link
Russell Brandom4:29 PM UTC
Edward Snowden has been granted Russian citizenship.

The NSA whistleblower has been living in Russia for the 9 years — first as a refugee, then on a series of temporary residency permits. He applied for Russian citizenship in November 2020, but has said he won’t renounce his status as a U.S. citizen.

External Link
Emma Roth4:13 PM UTC
Netflix’s gaming bet gets even bigger.

Even though fewer than one percent of Netflix subscribers have tried its mobile games, Netflix just opened up another studio in Finland after acquiring the Helsinki-based Next Games earlier this year.

The former vice president of Zynga Games, Marko Lastikka, will serve as the studio director. His track record includes working on SimCity BuildIt for EA and FarmVille 3.

External Link
Andrew J. Hawkins3:37 PM UTC
Vietnam’s EV aspirant is giving big Potemkin village vibes

Idle equipment, absent workers, deserted villages, an empty swimming pool. VinFast is Vietnam’s answer to Tesla, with the goal of making 1 million EVs in the next 5-6 years to sell to customers US, Canada and Europe. With these lofty goals, the company invited a bunch of social media influencers, as well as some auto journalists, on a “a four-day, multicity extravaganza” that seemed more weird than convincing, according to Bloomberg.

James Vincent3:17 PM UTC
Today, 39 years ago, the world didn’t end.

And it’s thanks to one man: Stanislav Petrov, a USSR military officer who, on September 26th, 1983, took the decision not to launch a retaliatory nuclear attack against the US. Petrov correctly guessed that satellite readings showing inbound nukes were faulty, and so likely saved the world from nuclear war. As journalist Tom Chivers put it on Twitter, “Happy Stanislav Petrov Day to those who celebrate!” Read more about Petrov’s life here.

Soviet Colonel who prevented 1983 nuclear response
Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images
The Verge
James Vincent3:03 PM UTC
Deepfakes were made for Disney.

You might have seen the news this weekend that the voice of James Earl Jones is being cloned using AI so his performance as Darth Vader in Star Wars can live on forever.

Reading the story, it struck me how perfect deepfakes are for Disney — a company that profits from original characters, fans' nostalgia, and an uncanny ability to twist copyright law to its liking. And now, with deepfakes, Disney’s most iconic performances will live on forever, ensuring the magic never dies.

External Link
Elizabeth Lopatto2:41 PM UTC
Hurricane Fiona ratcheted up tensions about crypto bros in Puerto Rico.

“An official emergency has been declared, which means in the tax program, your physical presence time is suspended,” a crypto investor posted on TikTok. “So I am headed out of the island.” Perhaps predictably, locals are furious.

The Verge
Richard Lawler2:09 PM UTC
Teen hacking suspect linked to GTA 6 leak and Uber security breach charged in London.

City of London police tweeted Saturday that the teenager arrested on suspicion of hacking has been charged with “two counts of breach of bail conditions and two counts of computer misuse.”

They haven’t confirmed any connection with the GTA 6 leak or Uber hack, but the details line up with those incidents, as well as a suspect arrested this spring for the Lapsus$ breaches.