Last September 19, Sobeler Corporation, the exclusive distributor of Ecooter electric scooters in the Philippines, held a special viewing for select members of the motorcycle media of their new products, namely the ET1 and EH2 models. According to Ms. Joy Maranan, Director of Sales and Marketing of Sobeler Corp., Ecooter has garnered a growing market for electric scooters not only in the Philippines but also in other countries that are now gearing towards electric mobility solutions due to rising environmental concerns and stringent regulations in terms of carbon emissions.
While previous Ecooter models are powered by Lithium Ion (Li-ion) batteries, the newer ET1 and EH2 models feature Lead-Acid batteries, making them comparably cheaper at PhP 55,000 for the ET1 and PhP 68,000 for the EH2. These models are targeted towards individuals who want to experience the convenience and low operating cost offered by electric scooters at a more affordable price point. For comparison, the Li-ion powered E1+ and E2L are priced at PhP115,000 and PhP 95,000, respectively.
Features and benefits
While the lead-acid and Li-ion powered electric scooters have roughly the same top speed of 60 to 75 km/h and a range of 80 to 85 kilometers (depending on rider’s weight and terrain), lead-acid batteries are fixed to the electric scooters while Li-ion battery packs are portable. Lead-acid battery powered Ecooters are therefore recommended for those who have their own private garage with access to an electrical outlet. For those living in high rise condominiums with common parking for motorcycles and have no access to an electrical outlet are therefore advised to get the Li-ion powered Ecooters so they can carry the battery pack to their units for charging. But be advised that lead-acid batteries take longer to charge compared to lithium ion batteries. From empty, lead-acid batteries take 8 to 9 hours to fully charge, while Li-ion batteries only take 2.5 hours to 4 hours.
Other noteworthy features of Ecooters are a Cruise Control, a Reverse Gear function, and a Smart Mode. Cruise Control will allow the user to set a steady speed to reduce fatigue of the rider’s hand during longer journeys. The Reverse Gear function assists the user to back up the scooter when parked on steep inclines. The Smart Mode allows the user to switch between two riding modes; Smart and Sport. Smart mode will limit the scooter’s speed to 45 km/h to increase range. Sport mode will allow the scooter to reach its top speed of 60 to 75 km/h but with slightly reduced range. Smart mode works best in busy city streets where top speed is seldom needed. Sport mode is best reserved for long avenues to keep up with the flow of most vehicular traffic.
Ecooters are equipped with a large full digital meter panel that automatically adjusts its brightness to ambient lighting. There you will see your speed, trip meter, battery level, mode, clock, and ambient temperature. There are two battery meters on the dash for Ecooters equipped with a Double Paralleled Battery System, or two Li-ion battery packs (for E1+ and E2L models).
Double paralleled battery system equipped scooters can travel up to 200 kilometers running at a steady 40 km/h. You can also download the Ecooter Smart App System on your mobile phone and pair it with your scooter so you can monitor its battery capacity, remaining range, vehicle status, adjusting mode, and driving mode in real time. You can even activate your Ecooter using your mobile phone. All Ecooters are also equipped with a keyless control one button start system. This will allow you to set the alarm and immobiliser on your Ecooter for added security.
Sobeler Corporation was gracious enough to lend us an Ecooter for a week to let us experience for ourselves the fun and convenience of riding an electric scooter. Since I live in a high rise condominium in Makati City I requested for the E2L which is equipped with a removable Li-ion battery pack. This will allow me to carry the battery pack to my condo unit or our office for charging if I run low on battery.
The E2L is a compact size scooter and I must say, it looks beautiful in a futuristic kind of way. Its size and shape reminds me of the Piaggio Zip 100, albeit a very angular one, and there’s no telling that it’s an electric scooter until you realize there’s no muffler exiting from behind, exposing its attractively styled 6 spoke 12-inch alloy rims for all to see. Speaking of rims, the E2L runs on regular size 12-inch diameter scooter tires equipped with a run flat system for that extra peace of mind while on the road.
My first real life test of the E2L was traversing EDSA on my way back to Makati. Actually I really don’t have a choice because Ecooter’s showroom is located at the CSP Building along EDSA right across Robinson’s Galleria in Mandaluyong City. Except for the lack of a combustion engine, the E2L looks and feels just like a regular scooter. The controls and switches are almost the same from a regular combustion engine powered scooter; you only need to familiarize yourself with the different functions of some of the switches. Like for example the Smart button for changing riding modes is where you normally find the starter button on a regular scooter. Above that there are dedicated buttons for the cruise control and the reverse gear function. On the left hand switch gear are the buttons for the signal lights, high/low beam, and the horn.
There’s a starting procedure to activate the E2L. You have to insert a physical key, again just like on a regular scooter, or use the remote key fob. Then press the large E button just below the meter panel then wait for the READY light to appear then you’re good to go. I switched to Sport mode not only because I wanted to see how fast it really goes, but also because I need to keep up with the flow of traffic for safety.
Twisting its throttle and hearing nothing is quite disconcerting at first but the motor spools up quickly enough to reach cruising speeds of 50 to 60 km/h. Throttle response from a standstill is soft. There’s none of the sudden acceleration you experience with a regular scooter when you aggressively twist the throttle. Even if you wack it open, power builds gradually until you reach 72 km/h on a level road, just 3 km/h shy of its claimed 75 km/h top speed but I guess my weight, which is 160 lbs (I know this pandemic is making me fat), is slowing it down a bit. It also slows down a little bit going uphill but nevertheless I was still able to keep up with slower moving traffic. I managed to reach 80 km/h going downhill, though, surprising a few motorcycle riders along the way.
The ultimate test of the E2L for me was going up our office building’s steep 33 degree angle parking ramp which, not surprisingly, it conquered quite easily. And quite fast, too. I don’t know how to equate this but I feel the 2500 watts electric motor paired with a 64v30Ah battery on the E2L is comparable to a 80cc 4-stroke motor powered scooter in terms of performance. Ride quality and handling is also at par to a regular commuter scooter. The combi brakes system works well and provides smooth and predictable stopping power. Multiple LED headlights provide ample illumination during night rides.
At PhP 95,000 the Ecooter E2L is up against a pretty stiff competition in the 125cc scooter segment. But then again you’re missing the whole point of going electric if you’re going to compare it to an internal combustion powered scooter. You buy an electric scooter because you care for the environment, you want to lower your carbon footprint, and you want to reduce noise pollution, which are pretty much the primary benefits of electric vehicles.
Its secondary benefits are purely economic. If you switch to an electric scooter you will save money on fuel, annual registration, TPL insurance, smoke emissions testing, and periodic maintenance. All you have to replace on an E2L are tires, brake pads, and brake fluid. The service life of the E2L Li-ion battery is at least 500 charge/discharge cycles before it loses 100% of its charging capacity. Keep in mind that “diminish in capacity” doesn’t mean “lose all capacity,” but means a noticeable drop of 10 to 20% that will continue to get worse overtime. The replacement cost of the E2L’s battery is PhP50,000.
Depending on how far you commute daily or how often you use your Ecooter the economic benefits you get from it will eventually pay for itself in the long run. According to Mr. Dustin Tan, General Manager of Ecooter Philippines, the cost of charging your Ecooter’s battery will only add a few Kilowatt hours on your monthly electricity bill which is still significantly less than a month’s worth of gasoline at current rates. Electric scooters are currently not required to be registered at the LTO but if in the future they do, Sobeler Corporation said they will provide all the necessary documents to Ecooter buyers to get them registered. For the meantime you can use your Ecooter all you want and not worry about registration costs. So will I buy an E2L? Yes, I definitely would. If you care for the environment and your daily commute is mostly confined in the city, so should you.
Ecooter E2L specifications:
Power: 2500 watts DC motor
Torque: 32/105 NM (23.60/ 77.43 lb-ft)
Charging time: 2.5 hours
Top speed: 75 km/h (Sport Mode) / 45 km/h (Smart Mode)
Max range at full charge: 80 kilometers (Option for 2nd battery)