Bird is out with a new electric scooter designed to be the Santa Monica, California-based company’s most durable and long-lasting vehicle to date.
The Bird Three scooter has a longer wheelbase, dual sensor throttle and “triple braking system” with dual independent hand brakes and an “autonomous emergency braking system” which the company claims is an industry first.
But specifications aside, the really interesting thing about the Bird Three is that the company insists on calling it a “micro-EV.” It is a clear effort by Bird, who recently announced its intention to go public through a “reverse merger” with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, to capitalize on the current momentum around electric vehicles.
With billions of dollars of potential at stake for the EV industry as part of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, and longtime automakers putting billions of their own money into EV development, Bird sees an opportunity to join the ruling winds in transportation. sector.
“These used to be real toys, if I’m honest,” said Scott Rushforth, Bird’s chief vehicle driver, of the company’s original Xiaomi-made products. “We used standard products that don’t last as long as we would like.”
But that has changed with the development of more robust and durable scooters, earning them the title of “automotive-grade micro-EV,” Rushforth said. “It’s really an electric car that has been reduced to the micro form factor,” he added. “So I like that term and I think it will hopefully become part of the dialogue.”
One of the most important numbers to consider is the lifespan of any scooter. The more trips and miles a single scooter can cover, the better it is for scooter companies who have to recoup the cost of each vehicle before they can start making money. With the Bird Three, the company thinks it has its longest-lasting scooter to date.
Partly for this reason, the company takes a stance against the use of removable batteries. Other countries, such as China, are embracing battery switching technology as a way to expand access to their electric vehicles. But Bird claims that “smaller and replaceable batteries lead to higher total production emissions and more vehicle miles are needed to pick up, replace and charge scooters.”
Instead, the Bird Three’s battery has a capacity of “up to 1 kWh,” which the company says means fewer charges and more mileage on a fully charged battery, “than any other shared scooter currently available. is available.” That’s a significant step above the Bird One scooter’s battery capacity of 473Wh, and about 150 percent more capacity than the Bird Two.
The Bird Three battery is built to last longer than the scooter it is attached to, with a minimum life of 14,000 miles and a maximum life of 20,000 miles. That’s likely longer than the 24- to 36-month lifespan of the entire vehicle, Rushforth said. And it is IP68 rated, which means it is sealed against water and dust that can get into the scooter.
“You know what’s better than a removable battery is a battery that you don’t really need to maintain,” he added.
The scooter can perform more than 200 diagnostic checks and can communicate messages to Bird service personnel when repairs need to be made. And if there is a problem that would make the scooter unsafe to drive, the automatic emergency brake will bring the vehicle to a stop. Rushforth compared it to regenerative braking in an electric vehicle, where the vehicle comes to a stop when the driver takes his foot off the accelerator.
The Bird Three will be deployed in just a handful of markets to begin with, including Tel Aviv, Berlin and New York City (which will launch its first scooter-sharing pilot in June). After that, the company starts swapping the new scooter for the older models that are due for retirement – which can take a while.
“There is no point in recycling a vehicle that is in transit,” noted Rushforth. “That’s not very green, just like getting rid of the vehicles before their lifespan has expired.”