Living the (Green) Electric Scooter Dream


Ever since my father bought our family a grass-green Puch moped when I was 16, and it was stolen on my brother’s watch, I’ve wanted another one. But as much as I’ve longed to zip around the small town I live in on a scooter, I swore I wouldn’t buy one until there was something electric available.

Now there is — and I have one. So far the Panther Lithium from Serengeti Motorsports hasn’t been a totally smooth ride, but it’s still thrilling.

As you can probably guess from its name, it has a lithium-ion battery. The Panther sounded perfect for my family: it should go 30 miles per hour and we live in a very flat place; it’s supposed to go 40 miles or 80 minutes per charge, which is just fine for a runabout scooter.

It’s shiny. It’s blue. At $1,999 shipped, it seems reasonably priced. It runs silently. Or at least it did for a few days before we ran into problems.

We took delivery of the Panther on Wednesday, did the minor assembly and charged it up overnight. Thursday morning, we scooted up and down the street, to the delight of my 7-year-old son, who was entranced by the wind in his face as the world flew quietly by.

Friday, my husband took it around town, brought it home and plugged it back in. A few hours later, I drove it to play tennis. After tennis, I set out to pick up my son from camp, about a half mile away. Two hundred feet down the road, the bike died. No juice at all.

I plugged it in and let it charge up. On went the helmet and off I went, but about 200 feet down the road, the power cut out. I walked it back to the charger and plugged it in again, this time directly to the battery, instead of into the secondary plug on the front of the bike.

After about a half hour, I took it out for another spin. Same thing: it died after about 200 feet. In what was becoming an annoying routine, I pushed it back and plugged it in. I checked it an hour later and the plug was so hot I couldn’t touch it. I unplugged it and contacted Serengeti Motorsports.

As of this post, the company has not called me back, but we figured out the problem. It’s not the battery that’s defective, as I originally thought. It’s the plug on the front of the scooter. It doesn’t seem to be wired into the battery. But as long as I charge the battery directly, it works fine. The plug does get very hot, but when the battery is charged it cools back down.

In general, I’m delighted by this scooter. There are a few cons, though: The front external plug, at least on my version, doesn’t work, which makes me wonder how long it’ll be before something else breaks. And though it goes fast enough, the speed was overpromised: there is no way it’ll ever reach 30 mph, unless you go down a hill. Between 20 and 25 mph is its top speed.

The Pros: It’s green, it makes me feel good to have an electric vehicle, it’s really fun to ride, and it goes fast enough. The seat is big enough to hold an adult and a child, and it’s comfy. There’s ample storage space under the seat for a few groceries, a handbag or a backpack. The horn is annoyingly loud enough so that someone in a car can hear it. The battery comes with a two-year warranty; all other parts one year.

Did I mention it was electric?

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