Struggling Chinese conglomerate LeEco has resurfaced to support an upcoming Kickstarter campaign, of all things, for a hybrid skateboard-scooter. The Scooterboard, as it’s known, is a lightweight, foldable, electric lean-to-steer rideable with a stated maximum speed of 15.5 mph and a range of 9.3 miles. The design features a single curved handle with three wheels that kind of looks like your grandparent’s orthopedic crutch. The team behind Scooterboard, San Diego-based InMotion, say the idea originated when its founders struggled to ride electric skateboards — the Scooterboard, they say, can be learned in “a single session.”
The rideable has dual brakes — both an electronic brake and a mechanical one. The handle allows riders to control the throttle and the electric brake with one hand, and its tires are what the company calls “explosion proof.” There’s no such disclaimer for the battery however, which have a history of exploding on rideables like electric skateboards and hoverboards.
LeEco expanded into smart phones, smart bikes, and electric cars last year, but laid off most of its US workforce in May because of funding issues. That the company is now supporting a Kickstarter campaign from a little-known rideable startup is a strange move. Even stranger is that it’s entirely unclear what LeEco’s role in the whole process is. The company originally told The Verge that, “We are supporting a Kickstarter campaign by a hybrid team for a hybrid product.”
However, InMotion CEO Rose Wang reached out following the initial wave of Scooterboard reports to say that LeEco “had no part in the development of Scooterboard” and did not invest in the company whatsoever. “LeEco reached out to me to offer their PR help, and seeing that they had direct connections to media, I thought it would be a good idea,” Wang added. “I will be speaking with LeEco about the information they've been sending out.” LeEco did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While this strange series of events has led some to believe that LeEco is behind the Scooterboard, the InMotion folks want everyone to know that they are “not a conglomerate” and have “put in so much work and sweat into creating a product that we're proud of.” The team’s Kickstarter campaign launches on August 29th, and it will have a funding goal of $25,000. There’s no word yet on pricing.
Update at 6:50PM ET, 8/25: Clarified that Scooterboard maker In Motion’s CEO Rose Wang reached out to The Verge to clarify that LeEco is not an investor in the company and had nothing to do with its development, despite LeEco’s ambiguous claims earlier. The headline has been updated to reflect this fact.