Trikes or bikes with three wheels are adding more flavor to the ride-sharing and mobility business. Gotcha, a 10-year-old company that runs bike and scooter services on college campuses has added new three-wheeled, battery-powered trike to its fleet. The trike can carry two people, topping speeds of 25mph or 45 kmph. The trike runs 40 miles per charge. It looks like a reimagined moped, as per Gotcha CEO Sean Flood’s admission, and is all set to provide a cleaner alternative to scooters and motor-bikes. It looks more robust than a scooter and is supposedly more fleet-ready, offering a more eco-friendly, comfortable and faster way to move around as compared to standard scooter-sharing firms. The three-wheels give the trike more stability.
Recently the company ran a trip through America, to popularize the electric trike, and to take it to the masses. Many believe that trike brings radical new thinking to the micro-transit industry. Questions, however, hover around the trike’s larger size, which impedes dock less services, and is a hindrance to easy parking.
It could also have implications for the last-mile delivery logistics industry, though, currently, it has been fashioned as a convenient way to zip around the city.
But one thing is for sure. The new trike is all set to give competition to market players Lime and Bird, and a dozen more companies in the rental e-scooter market. Where the trike could make a dent is in the batteries. Patrons of existing players often complain about their scooters running out of charge. Gotcha’s trike could win because of the power it packs, and the comfort it promises.
Indeed, Gotcha’s trike falls in the category of other mobility start-ups like Arcimoto and Electra Meccanica, who have made a splash with their unique designs of the electric trike. The trike brought to the market by Gotcha has a more extended range or better mileage. Its top speed too is better. The added advantage is, of course, the two seats it has, and this could expedite its adoption in the scooter-sharing market.
The big problem, of course, that hinders widespread adoption is the poor unit-economics of the product. According to some estimates, the average lifespan is low, and the fleet needs constant repair and replacement, which needs to be fixed before more investment and payouts can be anticipated.
The demand for more energy efficient and green vehicles across the world is set to drive the trike market. Advancements in tech make the electric trike desirable to the travel enthusiast. This is, of course, a developing phenomenon. Further, in Europe and North America, commuters are beginning to prefer the trike over other methods. What is important is how quickly improvements can be made to the battery technology for the electric trikes to take off truly. To win more early adopters and customers, the way goes through the battery. Advancements in battery technology have helped manufacturers in reducing the overall weight of the vehicle. They have also added to the lifespan of the cell when compared to VRLA and lead-acid batteries. What works in the trike’s favor is the additional stability it offers, along with the ease and comfort.
What ails adoption is that the electric trike falls under the non-standard vehicle category licensing, which makes customers ponder before they make a purchase decision. This is a restraining factor in the growth of electric trike market. Adequate legislation and lobbying from stakeholders can iron out the existing problem. An untapped market for the trike is the sports vehicle industry, where it can supply high-performance electric trikes.
For trike manufacturers, it is a brave new world out there, and the possibilities are endless if the challenges can be managed.