A new class of dockless electric vehicles is poised to hit city streets. In general, they can go faster and farther than existing bikes, e-bikes and scooters.
Gotcha already operates bike, scooter, and electric shared ride-hail vehicles in 20 states in the U.S., mainly on college campuses, The Verge reports. It’s launching the electric trikes at South By Southwest in Austin, Tex., next week, after the culmination of a publicity ride by Gotcha CEO and founder Sean Flood, who’s riding a Gotcha from Tallahassee, Florida, to Austin.
Electrek says that the Gotcha Trikes appear to be a rebranded Doohan iTango. Doohan says it’s an offshoot of a motorcycle company and is now the leading manufacturer of “dual-front-wheel smart vehicles” in China. The trikes can travel up to 40 miles on a single charge, and Gotcha public relations director Caroline Passe told the Charleston Post-Courier it’s easier to operate than a motorcycle or moped.
The top speed of the trikes doesn’t yet appear to be raising concerns, but it likely will when the trikes roll out: at 25 mph, that’s significantly faster than the top speeds of most two-wheeled dockless scooters like Lime and Bird. According to Digital Trends, local regulations will determine whether a motorcycle license is needed to ride the trikes.
It’s unclear which cities Gotcha operates in will get the trikes first. The company is based in Charleston, South Carolina, but it only operates a bike-share system in its hometown. Flood has told the Post and Courier he prefers waiting for approval from municipalities before launching, which could explain why Gotcha’s scooters and electric ride-hail vehicles don’t operate in that city. Flood hasn’t said whether he’ll introduce the trikes in Charleston or elsewhere.
Separately, French automaker Citroën announced a concept vehicle called the “Ami One,” which the car company is calling an “urban mobility concept” but which is essentially a car. Or at least a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle.
The Ami One has two seats, a top speed of 28 mph and a range of 65 miles. In some countries, that makes them legal to drive without a license. (In the U.S., most states require a driver’s license to operate a low-speed vehicle.) Citroën believes that across most of Europe, it will be legal for people to drive as soon as they turn 16.
The Ami One will be unlocked by a smartphone app, just like a dockless scooter, and the phone will also dock inside the car so the app can project the instrument panel onto a display, Dezeen reported. Curbed called it a “bigger, faster and potentially more dangerous extension of the dockless scooter trend.”
Citroën plans to allow the not-cars to be unlocked using the Free2Move app, which is available in 33 cities in Europe and three in the U.S. It’s unclear which cities will get the Ami One.
The Ami One is only a concept for now. A prototype will be available to test drive at the Geneva Motor Show starting Thursday, Dezeen said. Italian auto magazine Quattroruote got to take an up-close look at the prototype already and posted a detailed video online.
Rachel Kaufman is Next City's senior editor, responsible for our daily journalism. She was a longtime Next City freelance writer and editor before coming on staff full-time. She has covered transportation, sustainability, science and tech. Her writing has appeared in Inc., National Geographic News, Scientific American and other outlets.