NIU, one of the leading international seated electric scooter companies, has just unveiled two new high-power electric vehicles. The NIU RQi electric motorcycle and the NIU TQi three-wheeler covered scooter could represent the dawn of a new era of affordable electric motorcycles for the US market.
NIU RQi-GT electric motorcycle unveiled
The biggest unveil at NIU’s CES 2020 booth is undoubtedly the company’s new NIU RQi-GT electric motorcycle, which is designed for urban commuting.
The bike features impressive specs including a top speed of 100 mph (161 km/h) and a range of up to 80 miles (129 km), though that range is measured at just city speeds averaging 30 mph (48 km/h).
Powering the NIU RQi-GT electric motorcycle is a mid-mounted 30 kW (40 hp) peak output electric motor custom designed and built by NIU.
The motor uses a belt-driven first stage reduction, then chain drives the rear wheel.
Energy is supplied by two removable batteries with a combined capacity of 7 kWh.
Rider aids include an adaptive front headlight that can lead in turns, anti-lock brakes and traction control.
NIU refers to the RQi-GT as a Smart electric motorcycle due to the large amount of tech built into the bike. Such tech includes 5G IoT connectivity, IoT connected battery packs with Panasonic battery cells, Full TFT dashboard display, and Bluetooth and GPS connectivity, the latter of which provides anti-theft and vehicle tracking functionality to help track down a stolen vehicle.
Heck, you can even check your tire pressure directly from the app, which is constantly updated with the bike’s diagnostics.
NIU TQi-GT seated (and covered) three-wheeled electric scooter
NIU’s electric motorcycle wasn’t the company’s only big news at CES 2020. We also got our first look at the NIU TQi-GT, a covered three-wheeled electric scooter.
The NIU TQi-GT is rated for a top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h) and a range of up to 150 miles (241 km). It features a Bosch hub motor of a yet unknown power level in the rear and also includes some game-changing automation.
The electric three-wheeler is self-balancing and comes standard with autonomous driving features such as self-parking. It probably won’t be driving itself around town, at least not yet, but it still includes the same smart features as the NIU RQi-GT electric motorcycle described above.
The integrated 5G IoT connectivity allows riders to get 24/7 live vehicle diagnostics, adjust vehicle settings, and even lock/unlock and start the vehicles directly from a smartphone. Both vehicles can receive over-the-air software updates.
While we don’t yet have final prices for the NIU RQi-GT electric motorcycle or NIU TQi-GT electric three-wheeler, NIU says production for the US will start in the second half of 2020 and “will be made available to consumers a few months later.”
BIG DEAL ALERT, PEOPLE!
I cannot understate how much of an impact this could have on the electric motorcycle industry as we know it.
We don’t yet have prices for either of these vehicles, but NIU is known for reasonable, mid-range prices, at least from a Western perspective. So I fully expect prices to undercut what is currently available in the West.
NIU has always enjoyed a nice middle ground in the market, producing premium products that can remain affordable, thanks to their Chinese development and production.
Let’s compare the NIU RQi-GT electric motorcycle to what is currently available in the market. The closest bike in terms of performance is probably the Zero FXS, which I had the pleasure of reviewing this past summer. At 7.2 kWh, its battery is just a hair larger than the 7 kWh pack in the NIU RQi-GT. The FXS’s top speed of 85 mph (137 km/h) is a bit shy of the NIU RQi-GT’s top speed of 100 mph (161 km/h). The power levels are nearly identical. But the 7.2 kWh FXS costs $11,000, or $12,000 if you want the two removable batteries option, which the NIU RQi-GT has.
While we don’t know the price of the NIU bike yet, it has a lot of room to undercut the FXS. Heck, even the Evoke Urban electric motorcycle (another Chinese electric bike with comparable specs), is priced below $8,000, and they don’t even have the huge production volume advantage that NIU has.
All of this is to say that NIU could finally deliver an electric motorcycle that offers the speed and power needed for highway riding while keeping the price affordable.
Check out my thoughts on how NIU could revolutionize the electric mobility industry in my video below:
That being said, we still have to address the elephant in the room, which is the low battery capacity. At just 7 kWh, the NIU RQi-GT has probably the lowest battery capacity I’ve seen in an electric motorcycle of this speed and power level.
And while that’s a bit of a bummer, I think it has to be viewed in perspective. This is still an urban/suburban commuting vehicle. This isn’t a sport bike. It isn’t a race bike. It isn’t a touring bike. It’s a commuter electric motorcycle. It’s meant to be ridden to work each day and charged each night — not for doing long Sunday afternoon pleasure cruises entirely on the highway. The fact that the bike has such a high top speed is what makes this a useful commuter electric motorcycle. It means that you can perform a typical urban/suburban commute, even if it includes stretches of highway riding.
Essentially, this is a bike that is meant for all of those people that say, “I’d love to get a light electric motorcycle for my commute, but I have a highway/interstate section on my commute that I can’t take the bike on.” Well, here’s your answer. A motorcycle that can handle stop-and-go urban traffic or highway speeds (and just about everything in between).
So, yeah, I’m pretty bullish on how important I think a bike like this can be to changing the urban commuting landscape.
And before I go, let’s talk for a minute about the NIU TQi-GT electric three-wheeler. We don’t have as much info on this one, and some important details like motor power and battery capacity are missing. But if the three-wheeler can hit 50 mph (80 km/h), then I don’t think power will be an issue. And my guess is that it will sport two of the RQi-GT’s removable batteries, giving it 7 kWh of capacity like the motorcycle.
The covered aspect of the scooter could definitely appeal to commuters in rainy environments. And the self-driving aspect of the three-wheeler is also exciting. Even if it’s only self-parking or doing Tesla summon-like activities right now, that still means there’s some serious tech and multiple sensors built into the vehicle, which opens many doors for future development.
My only worry is that with both of these new vehicles, NIU has demonstrated that it’s working on many fronts at once. And while that’s awesome news for innovation, I hope that doesn’t slow down development and production or force the company to burn the candle at both ends.
But so far, NIU seems to be on a roll with product unveils, increased earnings, and expanded markets. So who am I to question their plan? They obviously know what they’re doing.
What do you think of the new NIU RQi-GT electric motorcycle and NIU TQi-GT electric three-wheeler? Let us know in the comments below.
And lastly, can I brag for a second and say that I totally called this NIU electric motorcycle with some spy shots a few months ago?
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