A rugged, two-wheeled, electric entrant into the fleet market aims to provide the police, local authorities and city-based businesses with an efficient and environmentally-friendly transport choice.
The TP Scoot has been a familiar sight in German towns and cities for the past six years, and is now threatening to follow suit here.
Currently, that popularity equates to 10,000 units per year for the domestic market alone, but its backers believe swapping four wheels for two could become just as common in the UK.
TP Scoot spokesman Rudi Schogger said: “Set against sky high and ever increasing petrol prices, it makes for a very compelling case before taking into account the obvious environmental benefits of having a zero emissions vehicle.”
The electric scooter costs 1p per mile to ‘fuel’ and can reach a top speed of 20mph, with a single 5-6-hour charge giving it a 20-mile range.
The anxiety associated with that range will make it impractical for some fleets, but Schogger is convinced it can still provide a vital transport alternative within the public and private sectors.
“We are working with a number of companies that are considering TP Scoot for their local employees who might otherwise drive, as well as considering them for in-house transport needs,” said Schogger.
From a commuting perspective it can encourage a ‘greener’ way of getting from A to B for employees. But when considered as a business tool, it can provide an alternative to single-passenger taxi journeys or traditional pool cars.
“It’s really simple to use,” explained Sharon Payne, Fresh Ways to Work project manager at Suffolk County Council. “I had never ridden a moped before, but it was just like riding a bike.”
Fresh Ways to Work is a part European Union funded project which aims to get businesses in the small to medium sector thinking about their travel options.
Operating in Ipswich and St Albans, Payne explained why they decided to invest in two TP Scoots.
“When we’re visiting businesses to advise them on alternative modes of transport and making green choices, it was difficult to have that conversation when we had just arrived in a car,” she said.
“The sort of short urban journeys we make means it is ideal for us and we wanted to show the businesses we were visiting there’s a practical alternative to the car.”
It appears to have worked as well, with businesses in Suffolk seeing the potential of having an electric scooter on the fleet as an alternative to a pool car.
“The cost of buying an electric car puts it beyond the reach of most businesses, but an electric scooter can provide them with a viable solution,” explained Payne.
“For example, the manager of a local building society, who has staff travelling to and from different branches, thought it an ideal replacement to their pool car, while boosting their green credentials, and is keen to find out more.”
Schogger says police are also investigating their potential with trials being discussed with Hampshire, Dorset and Metropolitan forces, as well as the Chiltern Consortium, which includes Bedfordshire Police, Civil Nuclear Constabulary, Hertfordshire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police.
In addition, whilst at an early stage discussions are taking place with a postal operator, food delivery and courier companies.
TP Scoot is available in two variants. The 1,000W zero-emissions electric engined Maximilian costs £1,795 including VAT, while its 500W sibling the Ferdinand retails at £1,295.
Both scooters are collapsible, come with their own bag and operate on a 36-volt battery consisting of three 12-volt silicium gel components.
The battery is easily removed and can be charged by plugging into a standard socket.
Payne said: “You can plug it in when you get into the office or when you get home at night, either way the ease of charging gives you peace of mind.”
But employees will need a pre-2001 driver’s licence or a CBT motorbike licence before taking to the roads.
They will also have to don a helmet, while the bike will require full DVLA registration and tax and insurance.
But, while public and private sector organisations consider the merits of adding an electric scooter to their fleets, plans are well underway to launch a series of rental schemes to build on the success of the ‘Boris Bikes’ in London.
More than 1,000 TP Scoots are being made available in London this summer and there are plans for similar schemes in Brighton, Oxford, Cambridge, Isle of Wight and Milton Keynes later in the year.