Much of the conversation about electric scooters has been dominated by shared vehicle events, the companies rolling them out, and the cities in which they’re rolling out. But Carson Brown, co-founder and lead designer of London-based electric scooter brand Taur Technologies, says it’s time to separate scooter-sharing from scooters as vehicles.
Taur came into the limelight in 2019 to launch a pre-order campaign for its premium and sleek white e-scooters which are built with a footrest that allows riders to face forward while riding and some chunky tires . The plan was to launch in London, but the UK still hasn’t legalized private electric scooters.
Instead, Taur is launching in Los Angeles after raising $1.75 million from Trucks VC, a San Francisco venture capital firm specializing in the future of transportation. While it’s an overstatement to say that the electric scooter market is mature, it’s certainly advanced enough for a new company entering the industry to be notable, if not potentially exciting.
“When we started, I guess sharing was really, really big, and we made the confident, brave, dumb decision to say, actually, we think this is going to go to ownership,” Brown told TechCrunch. “So we’re taking the opportunity from the markets that are embracing these vehicles, and we see LA as a great place, not just from a product perspective, but because we see a brand as an important part of our job. We will change the appearance of the scooter for the normal person. If we can do it, we have done our job.
In other words, Taur wants to create a cultural shift that sees scooters not as a niche or “second-class civic pursuits,” but as aspirational means of transportation. Most scooter companies don’t have much character, and they certainly haven’t done much for the culture, Brown said.
“It’s always been about making it as cheap as possible and selling as much of it as possible,” he said. “We were attracted by the opportunity to come up with something that was truly state of the art and became the product that people refer to.”
Unagi scooters have been called the iPhone of scooters. The brand’s recently unveiled next generation, the Model Eleven, is a smart scooter with advanced driver assistance features such as object detection and warning, as well as built-in speakers and more. This vehicle will cost around $2,860 and its standard model costs around $990.
While Unagi has tapped into celebrity influencers like Iggy Pop to up the cool factor of its scooters, Brown doesn’t think the company has pushed the form factor enough to its limits. He hopes Taur’s strategy of building a design-wise scooter that looks sexy and is priced at the top end ($1,495) will help achieve the culture shift needed to encourage the property.
At the forefront of this strategy is obviously the forward-facing deck, which allows riders to adopt a “double-ski” riding position with both feet positioned on two flip-up foot platforms. This, Brown said, gives riders an equal view of the road that they wouldn’t get when standing half sideways and half forward like you do on other scooters. It also helps with stability, he added.
“If you think about when you’re skiing, you can adjust how much weight you put on each foot, and that steers the vehicle in addition to the handlebars,” Brown said. “It’s a bit of a different feeling. I’ve had a lot of moments with people who were usually very firm and said, “No, I like it like that,” and then they try it and be like, “OK, I really get it now.”
Taur’s scooter has very large Continental tires that are 50% larger than most electric scooters. It also comes with three lights – The front light is wraparound which not only gives the driver excellent visibility but also allows other road users to see the light to the side and behind the driver. There’s also a dedicated brake light, as well as a rear throw light that shines upwards at the rider to make them fully visible. And for convenience on the go and easy storage, the scooter also folds up nicely.
It’s only available in white at the moment, but it was both an aesthetic and functional choice, Brown said, adding that a white scooter not only stands out from the sea of black and silver scooters that are coming in the market, but may also be more visible to other road users.
Too many scooters on the market are unusable by the average bike shop and have poor customer service channels, Brown said. Taur’s scooter has been modularly designed, meaning it is made up of five modules that can be interchanged for easier maintenance.
“‘Built for Ownership’ was there from the start,” Brown said. “You can do a tire change in under five minutes, and if you don’t have a tire iron, you can use a spoon. When you are a user of these vehicles and design them, you know what the bar is and you know that no one is reaching it.
Taur is expected to begin shipping pre-orders for its scooter over the summer, and starting in August, the startup will sell directly to consumers in Los Angeles exclusively. Scooters will include a 30 day money back guarantee, plus warranty. Customers elsewhere in the United States can put down a $100 deposit to secure a spot on Taur’s waitlist.