Terra Motors Launches BIZMO II Commercial-Grade Electric Scooter
Maturing Tokyo Startup Makes its Next Move
AkihabaraNews has watched Terra Motors closely for a good 8 months now, and we have to admit that, while they’re a small, independent company with a proper host of venture capitalists behind the scenes, calling them a ‘startup’ is beginning to sound disingenuous.
They released their first all-electric bike, the SEED60R, about two and half years ago (and teamed up with an anime studio to create a version covered with a crazy ninja girl character), they’re working on an all-electric three-wheeled taxi and delivery vehicle aimed at developing markets (images in this gallery), and they’re currently gearing up for the summer launch of their shiny new flagship, the smartphone-enabled A4000i (see our test drive and review).
The company’s Shibuya offices seemed rather startup-ish when we visited last October, but the current profile makes Terra Motors seem more a successful and growing young company than a bootstrapping venture.
Broadening into a Niche
Terra Motors’ commercially available products have until now been limited to consumer/commuter models (the multi-use tricycle remains in development). Today’s announcement signals a level-up; a maturation of sorts. Looking well beyond the individual buyer in Japan and abroad, they’ve built a specialized delivery bike - and here in Asia, it’s a specialization of no small consequence.
Gas prices are steep and most streets are small here in Japan, so all manner of businesses, from shipping to postal and newspaper delivery, to domestic food vendors large and small, to the likes of Pizza Hut, Domino’s, and now even McDonalds, deploy battalions of small scooters to deliver...well, basically whatever can be delivered by scooter. Sure, small bikes are loud and can be heavy polluters, but they’re fuel efficient, easy to drive, nimble, and affordable even for a very small delivery operation.
So, while it’s accurate to say that delivery scooters represent a niche market, it’s a pretty large niche, and one that’s never had a viable electric option. According to Terra Motors, that changes today, and here’s why:
Terra Motors’ BIZMO II
$4000, 150km-Capable Commercial-Grade Electric Bike
Launching today here in Japan, Terra Motors is billing their new release as the world’s first commercially capable electric scooter. The company claims that their bike’s powerful 72V44Ah battery (which is nicely removable, too), will allow it to carry up to 30kg (~66 lbs) with a range of 150km (~93 miles). If accurate, that’s three times farther than the industry average for electric bikes.
Configurations, Bells, Whistles
The BIZMO II is engineered with a low center of gravity and a reinforced frame that’ll ideally endure years of commercial use. It’s available in a number of customizable configurations:
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The in-wheel electric motor employs regenerative charging, and the powertrain features three operating modes: High-Speed/Power, Normal, and Energy Saving. With these features in concert, Terra Motors claims that the BIZMO II operates at 1/10th the cost of a traditional gasoline scooter.
Full-size images below
Terra Motors is Growing...No, Kinda Has Grown Up
In the course of composing this article, we’ve gone from wondering why we still call this company a startup to pretty much deciding that it’s not. Terra Motors isn’t exactly going head to head with Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, and the other entrenched motorcycle makers, and it’s not exactly pulling in huge piles of money, but in many ways it’s become a young adult. Still needs help from the parents (like the $10 million it got last month), but it’s very close to being a proper business.
The release of the BIZMO II is salient, and the company’s motive is clear and very smart: expand beyond one-off sales to electric vehicle enthusiasts and environmentally conscientious individuals and move to include business to business sales, i.e., start selling fleets of electric scooters. It’s a potentially game-changing move for the upstart bike maker.