The Berlin startup Unu wants to do its part to turn the traffic around with electric scooters. The emission-free and quiet scooters should not only protect the environment and the ear canals, but could also solve the ever-increasing problem of space: According to calculations, cities like Munich will be in permanent traffic jams by 2030. Because more and more people move to the cities with their cars or buy one there. And the car is still clearly the number one mode of transport in Germany. The number of cars is growing every year – even in the city, although an average of only 1.2 people sit in them. As a result, the streets are more and more congested.
I had already visited Unu in the spring and presented the company to NewsABC.net. The theory is now followed by practice. I was allowed to test the new scooters, which will be delivered from October. They replace the first model, the Unu Classic, which is no longer sold.
My test vehicle has 4 kW and thus the highest engine power in the Unu model range. According to the manufacturer, this makes it particularly suitable for trips with two people. In black or white, the 4kW model costs 3,999 euros, other colors are a little cheaper. With only 2 kW, the scooter is available for 2,799 euros. A helmet and a second battery, which doubles the range of 50 kilometers, cost extra. A B driving license is sufficient to drive.
It takes a while before I get a feel for my vehicle
It’s the first time I’ve ever sat on a scooter. Most of Unu’s first-time customers are doing the same to me, the press officer explains. 70 percent of them had not ridden scooters before.
The scooter is easy to use: With a key card, which is to be replaced by an app next year, it can be switched on on the display on the steering wheel and is ready for use shortly afterwards. The speed can be controlled by turning the right handle, and braking is done with the two brake levers, just like on a bicycle. As with many electric vehicles, part of the braking energy on the Unu scooter is recovered through recuperation. The display shows both the battery level and the speed.
After the briefing, I’ll start my maiden voyage. But it takes a while before I get a feel for my vehicle. As with many first attempts, the right mix of courage and the necessary caution is important. The slim line of the scooter reminds me of a heavy bike on the one hand, but I also quickly feel the horsepower under my buttocks.
I feel like an Italian Ragazza roaring elegantly through the streets of Milan
When I set off for the first time, I’m surprised by the rapid acceleration. Even turning – especially after stopping at a traffic light – is difficult for me at first. I want to shift reflexively, but instead accelerate all the more. Several times I have to be careful not to get into oncoming traffic.
The turn signal can be operated with a switch, but has to be reset after turning, which I sometimes forget. For someone like me who has not yet ridden a scooter, a couple of practice laps in an empty parking lot or on a quiet side street are definitely recommended.
But as soon as I get the hang of it on the third lap, I enjoy my joyride on the Unu scooter. While at the beginning I felt more like Audrey Hepburn on her Vespa odyssey through Rome in “A Heart and a Crown”, I soon feel like an Italian Ragazza roaring elegantly through the streets of Milan.
But this is now Berlin, where I am. And Berlin, as everyone knows, consists mainly of construction sites. On my lap around the block alone, I run into three. At a particularly confusing place I get off the first time and push my scooter embarrassingly and with difficulty over the footpath. The two-wheeler, which weighs more than 80 kilograms, is not built for this. Due to the large turning circle, turning around is not that easy either.
With the new scooter, Unu has taken into account customer feedback on the previous model
When I feel more confident, I finally accelerate to more than 30 km / h on a straight stretch. The pace definitely feels faster on the scooter than in the car. A maximum of 45 km / h is possible on the Unu scooter. If there is enough space to meander past standing cars, you can even get around town faster than by car. The annoying search for a parking space is almost always eliminated. For my electric friend there is a place to stay almost everywhere.
There is plenty of storage space under the seat. Unu reacted to the feedback from drivers of the previous model. In addition to two batteries, which together provide a range of 100 kilometers, there is still enough space for a backpack and a laptop. When parking, two helmets can also be stored here. A pocket is also attached to the underside of the lid, in which the vehicle documents and the smartphone can be inserted while driving.
When the batteries are exhausted, the batteries must be removed and charged. You can do this simply by having a charge at your home socket. According to the company, it takes seven hours to fully recharge the battery, for example overnight.
Several updates should come in 2021
The Unu-Roller will also be digitally upgraded from next year. Updates over the air should also provide the option of unlocking the scooter via app and sending the “digital key” to friends so that they can use the vehicle while they are away – without having to hand over a physical key. A navigation system will also follow, with which the scooter can be located.
For me, the Unu scooter is actually a contemporary vehicle for the city. It’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly than a car, more flexible than local public transport, and better than a bike for a longer distance to the office if you don’t want to get there sweaty. And with a little practice, driving is also fun.
Anyone who would like to try out the Unu scooter can have a list of test drives on the company’s website.