The Berlin mobility startup Unu presented its first self-developed e-scooter in May 2019. Now he’s delayed and we were able to do our first test drive with him. So the sofa moves on two wheels.
The second generation of the Unu scooter should originally be on the streets in autumn 2019. Technical challenges and not least the corona crisis set the development of the vehicle back massively. Unu is now starting deliveries from October – judging by our test drive with the e-scooter, future new owners of the little speedster can expect a lot of fun. We were able to test the largest and most expensive model variant in matt black with a four kilowatt motor, which, according to the manufacturer, will be delivered first. According to Unu, it is also the most frequently ordered variant.
Retro meets future: Unus’ new e-scooter looks great
Compared to predecessor The second generation of the e-scooter from the Berlin start-up is an in-house development, while the first model generation, the “Classic”, was based on a combustion scooter and was equipped with an electric drive – like VW’s E-Golf. Visually, the new generation has a certain resemblance to the old e-scooter, especially at the front, which also had a touch of retro charm, but the shapes of the new scooter are now rounder, cleaner and more modern overall.
Instead of an analog speedometer, a small, transflective display is emblazoned on the steering wheel, showing the speed, kilometers traveled and the charge level of the batteries. If the flap to the storage space is open, even this is shown on the screen, although this is actually completely superfluous – you can finally see that the large seat is folded up. Nevertheless, we appreciate such details. Later, such information should also be able to be displayed on the smartphone when the software is finished.
From the side, the e-scooter appears quite bulky, as Unu has made sure that there is 33 liters of storage space under the seat, for example to pack two helmets in. I would have wished many customers to have this quality. The wish to be able to comfortably ride the scooter for two was also fulfilled: The seat of the new Unu model offers plenty of space so that two adults can find space. The metal strip drawn around the stern not only serves as impact protection if the scooter should fall over, it is also intended as a handle. The one-sided swing arm, on which the rear wheel and the integrated electric motor hang, is also noticeable on the side.
On the back, in addition to the necessary holder for the insurance badge, is a semicircular curved rear light that leaves a futuristic impression. Incidentally, Unu uses bright LED lighting at the front and rear.
The new Unu E-Scooter is a quiet step for up to two adults
In contrast to its predecessor, the new model is slightly larger and heavier due to the larger seat and other changes. With a battery, the scooter now weighs around 80 kilograms instead of the previous 60 kilograms and is also a little longer, which means less maneuverability, but the scooter is incredibly quiet on the road. The scooter is not only excellent to drive because of its slightly larger construction, the developers have also attached great importance to a high level of driving comfort. The chassis and suspension compensate for bumps in the road very well, so that neither the cobblestones nor potholes often found in Berlin’s side streets can dampen the smooth driving pleasure. In combination with the not too hard and not too soft upholstered, wide seat, which is somewhat reminiscent of the Gogoro scooters from Tier, you feel as if you are sliding through the city on a sofa. Above all, the Unu engine sounds quieter than the electric hum of the Gogoro scooter.
The approach to the green traffic light is not sporty, but quick, so that you can quickly get going. The acceleration is solid with the four kilowatt version, whereby the maximum speed of 45 kilometers per hour is reached quickly if the accelerator lever (throttle lever is probably inadequate here) is turned far towards you. To ensure that it is safe to jet through the city, Unu has improved the brakes criticized in the first generation: disc brakes are attached at the front and rear, and when the brake levers are pulled, recuperation is also activated, which also slows down propulsion. In the meantime, it is effectively minimal: According to Unus Country Director for Germany and Austria, Felix Jakobsen, the energy recovery is just two to five percent.
For the range with one battery charge, Unu states around 50 kilometers, which among other things depends on weight, outside temperature and driving style. If you want to charge less often, you can install a second battery for an extra charge of 790 euros, for which there is still space in the scooter. If the battery is empty, it can simply be taken from the dedicated compartment in the storage space under the seat and charged at home or in the office using the charger. In contrast to the previous battery, which still had to be plugged in, Unu has designed an elegant charging solution for the new model: the battery is conveniently placed on the charging dock and it is charged. However, you should take some time to fully charge, because a complete charging cycle from empty to full takes up to seven hours. You can tell how full the battery is by looking at the LED ring on the top of the battery pack or on the scooter display. There you can even see which battery is currently being used by means of a small ring.
The new Unu e-scooter will be smarter in 2021
Unu originally announced its smartphone-linked scooter. However, these functions have to wait a little longer because the developers could not continue working on them during the corona crisis. The test hardware was ultimately in the workshop and not in the home office.
According to Unu, a corresponding update should be over-the-air next spring can be played on all new scooters so that they can no longer only be unlocked with the key in the credit card design, but also via the app. Other upcoming functions of the smartphone app also include the display of the location on a map, and the battery level can also be read remotely. Other upcoming functions include navigation and theft protection. In future it will also be possible to give friends a digital scooter key using digital key sharing via an app.
The version of the Unu scooter we drove falls to 3,949 euros not exactly cheap, it still costs less than the Vespa Elettrica, for which the manufacturer easily fetched over 6,000 euros. The also plays in a similar price segment Kumpan 54 Inspire with, which costs around 4,000 euros with a three-kilowatt motor and smartphone connection. The new Unu is also available in two cheaper versions with two and three kilowatts, which cost 2,799 and 3,349 euros respectively.
We think it’s a shame that the e-scooter is still lacking the smart functions, but some of them were also developed for sharing operations, the further development of which is currently paused due to the corona pandemic. The company now wants to concentrate on the end customer business and supply all buyers with a scooter as quickly as possible. Even without the smartphone app, the e-scooter is great fun thanks to its great driving characteristics. When the smart services come next year, you can, so to speak, look forward to a new scooter again. If you don’t need the features: They are not mandatory and can be ignored. The scooter can still be used as a “stupid e-scooter” without the new functions.
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