Switched on yet? (Plug In Drive Tech – The Sprint)

2011 Plug In Drive Tech - The SprintAre you starting to get scared every time you visit the fuel station? If so maybe now is the time to start thinking about swapping your gas guzzler for an eco friendly and cheap to run electric vehicle.

Electric scooters have come on in leaps and bounds over the last five years and although they’re still comparatively expensive to buy they can still work out as a cost effective long term solution.

The Plug In Sprint is one of the latest electric scooters to arrive in the UK, it’s built in China and is imported by Emissions Free Solutions. It costs £3,800 which is quite a lot compared to the price of a similar spec Chinese built 125cc petrol scooter which could be had for less than £1,800. With electric you’re paying a premium for the expensive batteries, motor and electronics.

It is a lot of money but when you think about the long term running costs compared to a petrol scooter/car or public transport that extra cost can soon be clawed back. A full charge on your Plug In will cost around 57 pence and you get a range of over 40 miles on average and road tax is free, so within three years you’ll recoup the extra outlay.

The main downside with an electric vehicle is the range; Plug In claim the Sprint can cover as much as 67 miles at 25mph, or 35 miles at 63mph, more than enough for most commuters. It takes four hours to fully charge and it uses a conventional three pin plug which is attached to a three metre long lead under the seat, so depending on where you work you could charge it whilst you’re there.

Before riding the Plug In you’ll need to take a one day CBT test and have insurance, just like you would for a petrol scooter. Everything else is just like riding a convention machine. You turn the ignition key, take it off the stand, press the starter button, twist the throttle and you’re away. I was impressed at how smooth the scooter felt and at how well it accelerated. The first thing you notice is how silent the world around you seems, the only sound is the road noise from the tyres and the wind.

Plug In Drive Tech - The SprintAlthough the scooter is heavy, (thanks to the batteries) it carries the weight low down which makes it handle as well as a sporty 125cc scooter. During my time with it I used it for day to day running about and also did a twenty mile round trip. I rode the scooter at full throttle most of the time and even covered a few miles of fast dual carriageway where the scooter would happily sit at 60mph. Hills can zap the power a bit, something worth thinking about if you live at the top of a mountain but even after a good 20 mile blast the battery still had half the charge left according to the gauge.

To help prolong range the Plug In has five different regenerative modes to help recharge the battery as you ride. They’re selected before you move off by holding the throttle open and pressing the starter button between one and five times. For instance programme one will apply regen whenever the throttle is closed fully, programme four will activate it whenever the brakes are applied etc. The scooter also has a high/low power button which can cut the top speed down to 30mph and conserve power. Another feature is the reverse mode, hold the starter button in, twist the throttle and you can ride backwards. Not that you’ll get very far but it is actually quite handy for backing out of or into parking bays, or the garage especially with the scooter being quite heavy.

The question when testing something like this is ‘would I buy one?’ I live in a rural area and work from home so when I do go out it’s usually somewhere miles away. So the range wouldn’t be practical for me. On the other hand if I worked in my nearest large town, or on an industrial estate a few miles away an electric scooter would be ideal. They cost next to nothing to run and have the range to get me there and back for a few days on a single charge. The purchase price would still need to be weighed up but if I was considering owning it for five years or more it would be worth spending the extra money. If only the Government would extend their electric vehicle subsidies to include scooters the price would be much more attractive and I might just be tempted to buy one.

Motor: 5000w brushless hub motor
Battery: DC, 72v, 40AH/60AH with LFP batteries
Charging time: 4-6 hours, intelligent charger
Battery life: 1000-2000 deep cycles
Torque: 100ft-lb
Top speed: 64mph
Climbing capacity: 30%
Weight: 283kg
Tyres: 130/60-13
Brakes: Front and rear disc
Warranty: Two years
Price: £4800
Website: www.emissionsfree.co.uk

By Ian Granger

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