How Do Electric Scooters Work?
The number of electric scooters on the streets is growing daily. While the manual version was once the privy of young children, the electric scooter is most definitely for grownups.
But how does an electric scooter work? What goes into these urban travel vehicles in order to move the wheels, brake, or even make them turn?
If you are interested in learning how an electric scooter works, you’ve come to the right place.
In this definitive guide to e-scooters, we will shed light on how an electric scooter like the Unagi Model One works. We’ll talk you through the vital components and the respective roles they each play in making your electric scooter the miraculous feat of engineering it is.
Excited to learn? Let’s dive in!
How Does an Electric Scooter Work?
Advancements in technology and material science innovations, improvements in ride comfort and convenience, and, most importantly, awareness of the dangers of climate change have paved the way for the rising popularity of these electric commuter vehicles over the past decade.
But how does an e-scooter work?
Well, quite simply in its component parts, an e-scooter consists of a battery, motor, throttle and controller. And out of these parts, the battery and motor are two of the most essential components of an electric scooter.
When a rider twists the throttle on the handlebar, the controller reacts by commanding the battery to send electric energy to the motor which is mounted on the hub of the wheels. The motor uses this energy to rotate the gear which then moves the wheels of the electric scooter forward.
Like regular kick scooters, some e-scooters need to be pushed off the ground using a foot while twisting the throttle to engage the motor. They might also need to be maneuvered using the t-stem handlebars and stopped using brakes. The speed at which the scooter can go will depend on the throttle.
Of course, this is just a basic overview of how electric scooters work. Each of the electric scooters on the market come in slight variations, meaning they each work slightly differently.
So, to better understand how electric scooters work, we’ll need to explore each component separately.
The battery is one of the key components of an electric scooter as it determines how far the scooter can go on a single charge. The more powerful a battery is, the longer the ride distances on a single charge, and the better the overall performance.
Electric scooters may come with one of these three types of batteries:
Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) Battery
An older battery type, NiMH strikes a perfect balance between the widespread lead-acid and the newer lithium-ion. This battery holds a charge for longer than its lead-acid counterparts. However, the downside is that it’s heavier than the lithium-ion battery.
Though a bit cumbersome for general use, lead-acid batteries are the long-standing mainstay of devices that require rechargeable batteries because they’re the cheapest available. They’re also the preferred power source for golf carts and some automobiles. And they’re the most common battery in older scooter models.
Lithium-ion batteries are the newest and most appropriate battery types for electric scooters. Not only are they smaller, lighter and more eco-friendly than the rest, they’re also more powerful and hold a charge far longer than both the NiMH and lead-acid versions.
In many ways, the advances in lithium-ion battery tech have helped push electric bikes and scooters into the spotlight.
II. What is a DC Electric Motor and how does it work?
A DC (Direct Current) motor is an electrical unit where the input electrical energy is converted into mechanical energy. The DC motor works on the principle ‘when you place a current-carrying conductor in a magnetic field, the conductor undergoes a mechanical force’ and the magnitude of this mechanical force can be calculated.
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In a normal DC motor, the rotor is positioned inside the motor and the stator is on the outside. As the name indicates, the rotor rotates and the stator will be stationary. The rotor will have coil windings where the direct current flows through these windings and the stator may be made of either permanent magnets or electromagnetic windings.
When you allow the direct current to pass through the rotor windings, the magnetic field created within the stator starts attracting and repelling the electromagnetic windings on the rotor. This process makes the rotor starts rotating.
The circuit system has a commutator, to keep the rotor continuously rotating. When the rotor comes in perfect alignment with the magnetic field, it will stop its rotation. However, the commutator at that instant will reverse the current flow into the rotor and reverse the magnetic field. This action of the commutator ensures the continuous rotation of the rotor.
Different parts of a DC motor:
Armature or Rotor – The armature consists of magnetic laminations insulated from one another and rotates on its axis. The magnetic laminations on the armature are separated from the field coil (stator) by a small gap containing air.
Stator or field coil – This is a stationary part and has windings for producing a magnetic field.
Commutator and Brushes – The commutator is made of copper and it supplies the direct current to the armature winding or the rotor.
The commutator brushes are made of carbon and graphite. The brushes work as a conduit to pass the direct current from the source to the rotating commutator.
The DC motor is the source of power that runs your electric scooter, whether it is the maximum speed or the ability to climb a steep hill, it plays an important role and of course, it needs the support of a good battery.
The DC motors are differentiated by their power in watts. A DC motor with a higher wattage will consume more battery power and in turn produces more mechanical power and gives you higher maximum speed, faster acceleration, increased rider weight, and ability to climb a steep hill with ease.
Many times two DC motors of the same watts rating consuming the same electrical power may not give the same mechanical output and it can be due to the difference in the quality of construction of the motors and also their individual efficiency.
Normally, electric scooter manufacturers mention the watts of the motor fitted in the scooter, however, the same can be calculated when you know the voltage and current used by the motor. Assume that the DC motor of your electric scooter is running with 36 volts and 15 amps, then the motor power is 36×15=540 watts.
A DC motor has two ratings, peak power, and continuous power. Peak power implies the maximum amount of power the motor can consume for a very short period and the peak power can be 2 to 5 times the continuous power. Continuous power refers to the actual power of the motor. Many electric scooter manufacturers may mention peak power to influence the customers but that rating is not of much relevance.
III. Types of electric motors used in Electric Scooters and their Pros and Cons
There are different types of DC motors, however, let us concentrate on the two types of DC motors used in electric scooters such as the brushed DC motors and brushless DC motors (popularly called BLDC motors).
Brushed DC motors
The construction of a brushed DC motor has all the standard features of an electric motor. A Brushed DC motor follows the old technology and uses the standard commutator and brushes system that takes care of reversing the current at every half cycle and ensures the continuous rotation of the rotor.
Brushed DC motors are still popular in many fields, including some electric scooters. However, they are gradually replaced by the more compact and efficient BLDC motors.
A brushed motor used on an electric scooter needs to be mounted near the rear wheel and the drive is transmitted to the rear wheel through a drive arrangement (chain, belt, or gear drive).
- Low initial cost compared to BLDC motor.
- High reliability.
- The controller is simple and not expensive
- Wiring is simple.
- Has an efficiency of 75 to 80%.
Types of Electric Scooters. Electric Kick Scooters
In most cases, there are two wheels, a standing deck and handlebars, which in most case are foldable and that’s it. Simple as that. There is nothing you should have besides this.
Kick electric scooter for commuting
The most basic type is electric standing scooters for adults. That is what you see most often in traffic. And, in most cases, it’s good enough.
Maybe add a seat, in case you have problems standing or something like that. Everybody can ride it, it takes no time to learn at all.
Electric kick scooter types cover all your needs for speed, power range:
Electric kick scooter types cover all your needs for speed, power range
There are some three-wheeled types if you want extra stability in corners. That is great.
But, a two-wheel electric scooter is better for traffic and pedestrian zones if you want to get through the crowd more easily.
Types of kick e-scooters based on the numbers of wheels:
Two-wheel Electric Scooters
Electric kick scooters with two wheels have a lot of advantages you can use in your everyday life. Owning one can help you a lot, and, at the same time, you can have some fun.
The advantages of TWO-WHEELED electric kick scooters:
These weren’t built for doing tricks. If you try to learn tricks on one of these, you will be falling a lot, and those impacts can be terrible for the batteries and the motor.
A scooter can handle a bumpy ride and lousy roads, but strong impacts are harmful for electric components.
Three-wheeled Electric Kick Scooters
These are not so common, but you can easily see that there is a lot of three-wheeled e-scooters on the market.
Some people love the stability these provide, but most people prefer classic two-wheel scooters. Here are some of the reasons below.
Electric Kick Scooters for Kids
You have a lot of choice if you want one of these. The main differences between these and types of electric scooters for adults is the weight limit and size.
Selection is based on speed and running time. You can choose some electric scooter types that can run for around 40 minutes, and after that, you have to charge them for 12 hours. Some of these are able to provide your child around 80 minutes of riding.
I can suggest a Razor e-scooters to you. They are great e-scooters for kids, although some scooters like the Razor E300 is strong enough for adults as well.
Three-wheeled Electric Kick Scooters for Kids
This type is an excellent choice for kids. It provides some extra support for less experienced kids and protects them in situations that they can’t anticipate right now.
Provides some extra stability in corners and helps balance while a child is trying to change direction. And we all may agree on one thing — changing direction is all they’re doing all day long.
You have two choices:
Electric Kick Scooters for Adults
You have to look for the weight limit. You know that you are looking at types of electric scooters for adults if it can handle some serious weight.
Enjoy riding kick e-scooter types
In this group, you can put every other type of electric scooter that is slightly bigger and stronger than any child can handle.
Foldable Types of E-scooters
These are great for business people who commute to the office every day.
Nowadays, almost every kick e-scooter is foldable.
Like any other, this one is also fast and powerful, but practicality is the main thing.
People use an electric scooter because they are traffic killers and easy to ride and maintain.
However, when folded scooters came along, it was a game-changer. Not everybody needs crazy speed or range, but practicality in everyday life? Bring it on…
You have a foldable electric scooter that has a:
This is not measured time. This is just my way to describe it.
One second fold option is crazy fast. You just kick it and fold it. It has that kind of folding mechanism.
2-3-second fold option is also fast, but it takes slightly longer fold it. You can easily fold it and put it in a trunk, for example, and nobody will notice.
The third option is to buy a foldable electric scooter that takes some time to fold.
Self-balancing Electric Scooter Types
Self-balancing types of electric scooters require some time to learn. You may be struggling to balance at first, but believe me, this is something you learn quickly no matter how hard it seems in the beginning.
We can split this group into THREE self-balancing electric scooter categories:
Some define hoverboards as something ridden upright, in standing position. Maybe, but I’ve seen kids who ride by sitting on and lying on two of those. Check out the best hoverboard reviews if you want to find the perfect hoverboard for you!
Hoverboards are fun, not so practical
You can see everything these days. Mass production began in 2014.
The hoverboard has two wheels, an electric motor and batteries. That is all we need to start a party. These machines can go up to 13 mph and have a range of around 12 miles.
A thing you should consider before buying this type of e-scooter is the fact that you can’t go over curbs easily. You have to get off and pick up your hoverboard. Of course, you can practice and break your back a few times, but I doubt that is a good idea.
Another thing you have to know is that hoverboards are just for you. You can’t give anyone a ride. I am not saying that you couldn’t try and end up in the hospital, but I just recommend against it.
Great options some hoverboards offer:
Also, here’s great place for hoverboard enthusiasts. Check this review from gadgetsdeck.com if you want to choose the best hoverboard for you.
Even if it doesn’t seem like it, you can do some crazy tricks and stunts with a hoverboard. If you dare to go to a skate park and start learning, in a week or two, you can be the main attraction.
However, WHILE you are learning, you will be the main attraction as well, but that will be because of the falls. You have to check out what stunts this scooter can do before you are ready to practice.
You have some options as well when it comes to hoverboards:
Having this type of electric scooter is so much fun. They can be handy and provide you a fast commute through pedestrian zones.
However, you have to know that there are limitations, like not being able to jump a curb. And there is also greater risk when jumping off them.
I know what you would say if you had to guess how many wheels this one has. That’s right, one and only one.
And believe it or not, that’s just enough. This is also as a hoverboard fun machine.
Cool type of e-scooters. electric unicycle
Yes, you need some time to learn, but isn’t that the case with all other cool things?
You can also have fun in a skate park and learn to ride on those slopes and ramps.
Why Having an Unicycle Is a Great Option?
An electric unicycle can provide you with the ability to hop onto a higher curb. You have to practice a bit, but it is possible. Remember, practice makes perfect. And sometimes, stitches…
This is my favorite because this may be the right choice for those who want to be fast in the crowd. When you ride it, you are narrow and agile. Perfect for crowded places.
Of course, that means that you already have some riding skills on a unicycle.
Unlike a hoverboard, you can jump onto a higher curb or even a higher step.
Depending on the weight, you just need to squeeze with your legs and lift as high as you can. After a while, you will learn it, and then you won’t be able to get off the unicycle without feeling sad.
It simply provides so much fun.
Some specs for great unicycles:
The main strength of this self-balancing e-scooter is that one wheel and the compactness. It has lights and speakers. While you are riding it, you can be a moving speaker as well.
Great Features of This Type of E-scooter
It has a handle, and when it’s folded, you can carry it like a bag. It weighs only 30 pounds, so you can easily bring it to the office or into the market.
Another great feature is an app for you to view your daily ride. Also, you can lock your unicycle when you want to.
I think that a unicycle has everything that modern man or woman needs.
It is practical, safe, fast and a reliable way of commuting. Of course, if you’re skilled.
Self-balancing Personal Transporters
Segway is a brand that produces modern self-balancing personal transporters, electric kick scooters even unicycles.
Types of E-scooters. Electric Mopeds
These are powered by an electric motor as well. There are batteries and you’ll experience a noiseless ride.
So, what’s the main difference between different electric scooters and electric mopeds?
E-mopeds are usually faster more comfortable
Different types of mopeds are more comfortable because of the seat that can usually accommodate two people. That comfort also comes from a suspension and bigger tires.
Inside the seat, there is a trunk for things you don’t want to carry on handlebars.
What makes electric mopeds more comfortable and safer?
Mopeds have greater range, stronger motors and a higher top speed. However, all that comes with a higher price.
Types of electric mopeds:
You also have indicators, bigger lights and rearview mirrors. By now, you can conclude that these are some serious machines. Electric motors can even have 3, 4, or more kilowatts.
And the ranges are around 50 miles, and that is more than enough for traveling, not just commuting.
The coolest electric scooter. Harley Davidson
Of course, this is a more serious machine than an electric kick scooter, and you can see that some of those look great. But the price is something you have to take into consideration if you want one.
As far as I’m know, some smaller dealers can even order DIFFERENT PERFORMANCE PACKAGES. That means that you can buy a machine that goes even more than 50 miles per charge and has a higher maximum speed.
My main rule when it comes to looking for an electric vehicle is how much I can invest in my ride. The concept is simple: every rider knows how fast, extreme and long they will ride.
If you want to ride as far and as fast as possible and money is not an issue, this should be one of the best solutions you can choose.
Benefits of All Types of Electric Scooters
No matter what type you choose, these are the benefits. Even if you don’t know anything about electric scooter classification, if you ride electric, these are the pros you can count on.
No Harmful Effect on the Planet
The most important for our planet is the fact that these vehicles are eco-friendly.
That is important for us as well. We have to take care of the earth, and there are a lot of things we can do.
Riding one of these is one of the most entertaining ways to save the planet. I am sure you will agree with me.
I appreciate the fact that this provides us so much fun and, at the same time, we don’t pollute the air.
We were not born yesterday, and we know that electricity HAS TO BE clean to avoid further pollution. Not from coal, you know what I mean.
CLEAN ELECTRICITY is a power that is produced by wind, water or sun energy.
Either way, we don’t pollute locally. And if that electricity is clean, then we don’t pollute at all. It doesn’t matter what types of electric scooters we’re talking about — that’s how things work!
A win-win situation if you ask me.
No Training and License for These Types of Electric Scooters
Things you consider before buying some other vehicles not mentioned here. These types of electric scooters require no special skills or lengthy training. They’re so simple that everyone can learn to ride one in no time.
For the ones from the list, you don’t need the license, and you can use them wherever you want as long as it is safe enough.
If you have a powerful electric motorcycle, you aren’t so lucky. You need a license.
Different Types of Electric Scooters Are as Practical as a Swiss Army Knife
Some electric kick scooters are efficient and compact. Some people commute two to five miles every day to work and back with a car. That is nonsense.
You can arrive at the job in no time and fold it and carry it in an elevator and park it behind or under a table. Even if you are traveling on a subway, you still have to walk or take a bus to the station if you don’t have a scooter.
It is so practical and convenient. Of course, if it rains every day in your city, you aren’t going to be crazy about riding it and coming into work like you were swimming. But you get the point, I believe.
One of the Alternative Ways of Transportation
Yes, we can see that these scooters are the best alternative method of transportation. Use one once, and you will never regret it.
Choose the right e-scooter, and your car will be there just in case of bad weather or transporting a lot of weight.
You will start to think differently and organize your life differently to avoid using your car at all.
If you’ve been reading thinking about whether or not you want an electric vehicle, after this, you will only think about which type of electric scooter you should choose.
All E-scooters Types Are Known as Traffic Killers
With different electric scooters, you can easily glide through traffic, roads, paths and with an average speed for around 15 mph, you won’t have to stop at all.
Average commuting speed when you drive your car can be really low. That’s because of numerous stops.
Try to calculate the average speed that your car provides you and try not to be shocked. For that calculation, you just need your distance and time you achieve driving to a destination.
Maybe you have a 200 horsepower, 150 mph beast, but when it comes to shorter distances with lots of traffic, that average speed could be around 20 mph.
Also, we all know that roads aren’t ideal. Most of these machines can easily ride over curbs, smaller potholes and bumpy roads.
Having an electric scooter is an answer to boring everyday commuting with congestion all the way.
Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor (PMSM)
This motor is also similar to BLDC motor which has permanent magnets on the rotor. Similar to BLDC motors these motors also have traction characteristics like high power density and high efficiency. The difference is that PMSM has sinusoidal back EMF whereas BLDC has trapezoidal back EMF. Permanent Magnet Synchronous motors are available for higher power ratings. PMSM is the best choice for high performance applications like cars, buses. Despite the high cost, PMSM is providing stiff competition to induction motors due to increased efficiency than the latter. PMSM is also costlier than BLDC motors. Most of the automotive manufacturers use PMSM motors for their hybrid and electric vehicles. For example, Toyota Prius, Chevrolet Bolt EV, Ford Focus Electric, zero motorcycles S/SR, Nissan Leaf, Hinda Accord, BMW i3, etc use PMSM motor for propulsion.
Three Phase AC Induction Motors
The induction motors do not have a high starting toque like DC series motors under fixed voltage and fixed frequency operation. But this characteristic can be altered by using various control techniques like FOC or v/f methods. By using these control methods, the maximum torque is made available at the starting of the motor which is suitable for traction application. Squirrel cage induction motors have a long life due to less maintenance. Induction motors can be designed up to an efficiency of 92-95%. The drawback of an induction motor is that it requires complex inverter circuit and control of the motor is difficult.
In permanent magnet motors, the magnets contribute to the flux density B. Therefore, adjusting the value of B in induction motors is easy when compared to permanent magnet motors. It is because in Induction motors the value of B can be adjusted by varying the voltage and frequency (V/f) based on torque requirements. This helps in reducing the losses which in turn improves the efficiency.
Tesla Model S is the best example to prove the high performance capability of induction motors compared to its counterparts. By opting for induction motors, Tesla might have wanted to eliminate the dependency on permanent magnets. Even Mahindra Reva e2o uses a three phase induction motor for its propulsion. Major automotive manufacturers like TATA motors have planned to use Induction motors in their cars and buses. The two-wheeler manufacturer TVS motors will be launching an electric scooter which uses induction motor for its propulsion. Induction motors are the preferred choice for performance oriented electric vehicles due to its cheap cost. The other advantage is that it can withstand rugged environmental conditions. Due to these advantages, the Indian railways has started replacing its DC motors with AC induction motors.
Switched Reluctance Motors (SRM)
Switched Reluctance Motors is a category of variable reluctance motor with double saliency. Switched Reluctance motors are simple in construction and robust. The rotor of the SRM is a piece of laminated steel with no windings or permanent magnets on it. This makes the inertia of the rotor less which helps in high acceleration. The robust nature of SRM makes it suitable for the high speed application. SRM also offers high power density which are some required characteristics of Electric Vehicles. Since the heat generated is mostly confined to the stator, it is easier to cool the motor. The biggest drawback of the SRM is the complexity in control and increase in the switching circuit. It also has some noise issues. Once SRM enters the commercial market, it can replace the PMSM and Induction motors in the future.