Unagi has just unveiled a paradigm-shifting electric scooter that flips the script on how full-suspension electric scooters should look and function. With a beautiful design and loads of automotive-level technology, the Unagi Model Eleven electric scooter is sure to shock the industry as it ushers in never-before-seen tech into the scooter space.
The Unagi Model Eleven electric scooter was designed by industrial designer Yves Behar and uses a novel construction method known as long carbon fiber to create one of the lightest full-suspension electric scooters we’ve ever seen – and certainly the best looking (though the current crop of performance-based full-suspension electric scooters aren’t exactly a beauty pageant as it is).
At just 32 lb (14.5 kg), the Unagi Model Eleven somehow manages to pack in a pair of 500 W peak-rated motors, puncture-proof tires that are easily swappable with a cartridge-based system, dual swingarm suspension, removable batteries, and a pile of automotive-level smart technology.
For example, the Unagi Model Eleven is the first electric scooter to include an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS). It uses optical sensors to detect objects or hazards in the scooter’s path and warn the rider through audio and visual feedback on the scooter’s display.
As the company explains:
The Model Eleven knows the difference between a stoplight, stop sign, person, car or inanimate object, and provides both audible warnings with its integrated audio system, as well as visual warnings on the display.
The round touchscreen display at the top of the stem provides turn-by-turn navigation and even doubles as a notification system with its integrated LED ring that animates in different colors to alert battery, collision detection, lane departure warning, ADAS, signaling, and other functions.
The same speaker that provides audio warnings also offers turn-by-turn GPS navigation from Google Maps, with accompany directional cues displayed on the screen. Or if not currently using the GPS navigation feature, riders can connect to the scooter via Bluetooth to play music over the speakers.
GPS is also built into the scooter as a theft deterrent. If the motion-activated alarm doesn’t stop a thief from making off with a scooter, the built-in GPS tracker can keep tabs on its location, and riders can still remotely lock the scooter from the accompanying smartphone app.
Back on the mechanical side of things, a pair of motors provide all-wheel-drive and a maximum power of 1,000W. That results in better hill climbing and acceleration than most other scooters in this weight class. The powerful motors also offer better motor braking, which is important when you don’t have physical brake levers (braking is possible via a throttle-like lever on the left handlebar).
Each in-wheel motor gets housed in a 9-inch foam tire that removes the possibility of getting a flat tire. Foam tires generally don’t ride as nicely as air-filled tires, but the full-suspension design means the Model Eleven gets its ride quality from the suspension instead of the tires. That allows Unagi to swap in puncture-proof tires without taking a hit on ride comfort. And a swappable system for the tires makes it easy for anyone to replace a tire at home when they eventually wear out.
A removable battery design means that riders can carry a second battery to swap in when the first is depleted, removing the prospect of range anxiety. Unagi claims a maximum range of 14 miles (22.5 km) per battery, meaning a minimum of around 10 miles (16 km) of real range is likely a good bet. Unagi hasn’t shared the full battery specs, only stating that the packs are 9.7 Ah each. That number is meaningless without knowing the battery voltage, but assuming a common 36V setup, we’d be looking at 350 Wh per battery.
The fairly high efficiency is partly due to the fact that the Unagi Model Eleven isn’t a speedster. At a maximum of 20 mph (32 km/h), it’s faster than the Unagi Model One and most commuter scooters, but won’t win any races against higher-performance, full-suspension electric scooters.
That’s because most full-suspension electric scooters in the industry are also high-performance scooters. They feature massive motors and batteries to offers high speeds without compromising range. But they also generally look like a transformer had a love child with a garbage truck. The Unagi Model Eleven, on the other hand, went with mid-level power and speed but placed an emphasis on attractive design and functional technology that provides real-world benefit to riders. It’s not as fast as most other full-suspension electric scooters, but it’s a hell of a lot nicer.
Features like a built-in display of turn-by-turn navigation is huge. Most scooters don’t have room for phone holders, and trying to carry a phone in your hand to look at GPS while riding can be extremely dangerous on scooters. Solving that problem by integrating the navigation into the scooter and allowing riders to leave their phones in their pockets is a huge advancement for both safety and convenience.
All of these advancements come at a price, or rather two prices. The MSRP for the Model Eleven with and without ADAS is set at $2,860 and $2,440, respectively. But upon launch, Unagi is offering a huge discount for pre-orders. If you can plop down a pre-order and wait until next summer (for non-ADAS) or next fall (for ADAS scooters) for delivery, the price drops considerably, to $1,990 and $1,690, respectively.
Pre-orders are being taken via Indiegogo, which may give pause to some people, but this seems like a pretty safe bet. Unagi has delivered thousands and thousands of scooters per month for years now and isn’t likely to run off with your money. The Indiegogo move is just a common play in the industry due to its extra marketing value. Launch a product on your site and it’s a product. Launch a product on Indiegogo and, “Wow, it’s a campaign!”
In fact, Unagi is actually the company that has stepped in to deliver free scooters to customers that were left high and dry when other companies have gone bust, so they’ve got one of the best track records in the industry, as far as consumer confidence goes.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering. Yes, Unagi chose the name because “These go to eleven.“
This is impressive stuff. The Model Eleven looks great and has better tech than I’ve seen in any other electric scooter. Hell, even a $20,000 electric Zero Motorcycle doesn’t give me access to turn-by-turn directions.
The patent-pending tire-swapping system, the optical vision for hazard warning, the remote kill-switch – it’s all awesome and I want it all.
The one area where I know people are going to ding Unagi is on performance. For this price, 20 mph is slow. It just is. You can spend less money and get faster scooters any day of the week.
But the same goes for Unagi’s last electric scooter as well. And that’s because Unagi has never competed on performance, they’ve competed on style and user experience.
The same goes for Apple. If you want the most powerful computer, you build a PC. If you want the best computer, you buy a Mac.
And since Unagi has channeled Silicon Valley vibes since the day it started, the Model Eleven fits the company’s ethos perfectly.
So if you’re looking for the best performance out there, my advice is to skip the Model Eleven. Get a 40 mph electric scooter that can lay down rubber snakes on the sidewalk. But if you want a sleek, lightweight and tech-infused scooter, that’s exactly where Unagi comes in. And that’s exactly what the Model Eleven appears to offer. It’s a luxury scooter, and thus won’t be for everyone, but damn, it’s a nice option if you’ve got the cash.