Skip is beginning to test the first electric scooter that the startup built entirely in-house. They’re not quite ready for prime time, but Skip expects to deploy them in San Francisco this October.
That’s notably when San Francisco plans to allow service providers to deploy electric scooters as part of the city’s first permanent permitting program. Skip’s current permit expires on October 14, but the company plans to reapply for a permit, Skip CEO Sanjay Dastoor told TechCrunch.
For riders, they will likely notice the sheer difference in the size of this scooter compared to Skip’s previous models. Skip’s S3 is much larger than the company’s previous models in order to help riders feel more stable and secure on the scooter. The S3 also ditches the regenerative brake for a traditional hand brake and rear foot brake.
This comes shortly after Skip announced it would bring back its scooters to Washington, D.C. following some battery-related issues that led to fires.
The scooter fire in D.C. was caused by a damaged battery, though, it’s not clear if it was intentional or accidental. With this new scooter model, the battery was custom built for the shared electric scooter service use case and is also completely enclosed, which should help prevent it from getting damaged, Dastoor said.
This swappable battery should also help with unit economics, given that it won’t need to be replaced as often. The battery pack, Dastoor said, can last for about 20 rides, with a range of 35 miles per charge. The custom battery also features diagnostic capabilities that can detect if it’s wet. Though, the battery is designed to be able to survive submerged in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
“What we’re looking at now is how do we actually do the swap,” Dastoor said. “We’re changing the model from taking vehicles off of the road to swapping out the batteries.”
Dastoor said he currently envisions a warehouse with a bunch of electric vehicles lined up charging the batteries. Given that the current model relies on independent contractors to take vehicles home to charge them, you could imagine a world in which the independent contractors instead are responsible for picking up fresh batteries at the warehouse and then swapping them out with the depleted ones.
Previous models of Skip’s scooters had swappable batteries and even cameras, but the cameras didn’t make it into the new version.
“We are testing a variety of sensor systems to solve some of our key priorities, like parking compliance, rider safety and etiquette, and reliable location tracking,” Dastoor said in a follow-up email.
And thanks to the modular design of the scooter, Skip can easily add and remove elements, such as cameras, locks and even regenerative braking.