Vietnamese electric retro scooter causes a Buzz | FEATURE
This new brand of electric scooters has certainly caused a buzz (if you pardon the pun) around the internet recently. Is it because they’re electric and we all want to save the planet? Errm, no.
Is it because it’s completely fresh? No not really.
It’s simply because they look like they could have rolled off an Italian production line 60 years ago. It begs the question, if a trio of English ex-pat scooter fanatics and businessmen based in Vietnam can get things so aesthetically right from the word go, why can’t a company (that’s been making scooters since Enrico Piaggio was a lad) utilise their own back catalogue and produce a world beating retro scooter with all the modern gizmos we need?
SLUK posed a few questions to one of the men behind Buzz scooters, Pat of Saigon Scooters fame…
SLUK: Tell us a bit about Buzz and your involvement with them?
Pat: For over 20 years now I have been part of the Vietnam scooter community. Restoring scoots, exporting parts, organising clubs and rides, including charity events and so on.
My original interest in EV’s (Electric Vehicles) was with the Vietnamese franchise for Segways back in 2003. My friendly cross-town rival Nathan and I were also later developing electric scooters at the same time and for personal reasons he opted out. We put our heads together on it and here we are today with Buzz.
What kind of history has Buzz got with the electric or scooter markets?
Buzz has been one of those things that just came together when people put their heads together. Its an evolution from our Saigon Scooter Centre range of classic conversions the Vtronic (Vespa) and EBretta (Lambretta) models to electric cars and kids toys. Our first electric conversion was in 2008 and we have been producing and updating these over the past nine years. When we came together working on similar concepts and ultimately joined forces, the Buzz project was put into reality and here we are.
How urgent is the need for electric scooters in Asia in terms of legislation against petrol and 2-stroke engine?
Vietnam has over 40 million motorbikes on its roads so pollution here is really something that you see and feel in a way that you don’t in other countries, so I would call that an urgent need. That said, the initial buzz around Buzz has come from abroad, so phase-1 for us will be export-led. We will look at the local market in later phases.
Will you make a version to carry two people?
The new mk2 versions (pictured above) will all be suitable for two people.
Are the batteries removable for charge in house?
Honestly, this is an idea we toss around a lot. Removable batteries are extremely convenient but take a lot of space with no option for placement except in the under seat rear storage compartment, which foregoes most of the storage. We have chosen with the mk2 versions to place the batteries under the floor sections. This has far more space available for storage but trades off the removability. We are still considering a removable battery option to custom order however.
What is the cost of another battery pack and what is the expected lifespan of a battery?
A replacement Lithium Ion Polymer battery pack is approx $1450.00 USD. We are now having the battery kits custom made for us in Vietnam and the quality is very good. They are expected to last 1200+ charge cycles.
The first prototypes you showed are very retro, with a hint of Vespa 946 thrown in. Who designed the bodies?
Three scooter geeks! Saigon has a very small community of reputable restorers who obsess over every detail of their scooters. I’m one of them, Nathan is another and a guy called Sean is the third. I have to give these two guys credit as the original Buzz design was led by these guys and what they accomplished in the time they did is amazing. I stepped in later and I’ve been into scooters since I was 13 so I can claim the finishing touches and development of the MK2 production model. We wanted to capture the 1950s aesthetic and match it to the latest technology we could get our hands on.
Will they be exported?
Yes, our initial focus will be the international export market. We have had a lot of interest from places all over the world, all over north and south America, Europe and the UK and all around Asia. That was since pictures started popping up on Facebook etc.
When can we expect to see them over here?
As for timing the best answer I can give is “when they’re done.” 30 years in the scooter business has taught me to obsess over the small details and we won’t start to put them on ships until I am sure they are ready.
Any idea on cost for Europe/UK?
Not at the moment as this depends on UK/Euro homologation, shipping, taxes and our appointed distributors, but they will be very competitively priced.
Can you give us a ballpark figure?
UK homologation is a bitch so it depends how that goes but they should be in the region of £4-5000.
How many styles/finishes are in the range?
We will be offering the same base model design but with a production run of two motor options initially 1200w and 3000w brushless hub motors and with custom upgrades including rear carry box, LCDs, all weather roof with solar panels etc. Also a full range of classic styled accessories and possibly a trailer option. We will be looking iniitally at six different colour options and custom paint to order.
Are there any options for different power motors?
As above but the difference in top speed is about 30kmph between the two motor options. The 5000w motor option will not be a production model at this stage but we may offer this for custom orders.
Will they be built in Vietnam?
Where do you see the main market being for these vehicles?
From current interest in the past couple of months; worldwide! We have had serious interest from over 20 international distributors, in particular from the UK, Germany, Belgium, Holland, USA, Canada, Thailand, Malaysia and Australia.
What is the volume of the (really cool) delivery box? Are you expecting these scooters to be popular for deliveries?
Honestly we have no idea! Saigon Scooter Centre has played around with numerous delivery boxes, trailers, side cars and all kinds of bolt-ons, even artillery cases from the Vietnam war. We thought this design was cool so ran with them.
They are 60 Litres and yes the concept behind this was for delivery vehicles and PR, as we have an option of the rear box with 2 LCD’s fitted to advertise businesses.
The forks look like they are straight out of a modern Vespa. Is that the case?
Yes they are. We opted for the new Piaggio forks, as with production being here in Vietnam they are readily available and are a good quality assembly.
Why choose fibreglass for the body instead of plastic?
Good Question! We really wanted to stay away from the modern plastic stereotype EScooters. Fibreglass is more flexible for design purposes, easier to repair and we work with an excellent manufacturer and commercially it also makes sense for lower volumes. Everybody wins.
What is the wheel/tyre size? 11″ front and 12″ rear.
Are you still expecting to move over to Graphene batteries later in 2017?
These are not developing as quickly as we expected so at the moment it’s unlikely.
What sort of reaction have you had to this project so far? Any offers of inward investment?
The recent feedback from our web site, emails and social media has been phenomenal. We are currently discussing investment opportunities with a number of interested parties.
Are you looking for interested parties to import/distribute around the world?
We are negotiating with a number of potential international distributors at the moment. Any inquiries are always welcome.
You can find out more about Buzz scooters here.
The Buzz questions you need to know the answers to
How much are they? Unconfirmed but in the region of £4,000-£5000
How fast? 1000w 55kmh, 2000w 80kmh, 3000w 90kmh, 5000w 120kmh and 0-100kmh in under 4 seconds.
Will it qualify for OLEV? Buzz are hoping so, if they do you’ll save 20% of the purchase price. You can read more about OLEV here.
What’s their range? Depending on motor/battery choice the maximum range is said to be up to 240km with Lithium ion batteries. New graphene batteries (once they’re available) will extend that to 400km.
How does it charge? Charging is by an ordinary domestic socket. A slow charge takes six hours, a fast charging system will give it 80% charge in just 12 minutes. Buzz are also exploring wireless charging technology, let it charge itself whilst parked up.
Any tech? The Buzz will be Smartphone enabled and connected for handsfree calls on the move. It will also allow you to remotely check battery levels/condition on your phone from anywhere.
Are they upgradable? Buzz are designed to be future proof and can be upgraded with the latest batteries and motors.
What about security? The scooters will have a remote for keyless ignition, as well as an alarm/immobiliser. The rear wheel will also lock to help with security.
Where do I get in touch with them? Speak to Saigon Scooters here
Buzz eScooters gallery
Visit the SLUK Shop…