Call Urb-E a foldable electric-vehicle company and not a maker of electric scooters, urges Chief Executive Peter Lee.
Never mind that the company holds a patent on “self-propelled motor scooters and motorized personal mobility scooters,” according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The Pasadena company is growing by any name. A second retail location at the recently opened USC Village targets the college crowd for what Urb-E calls its motorized mobility devices to cover the “micro mile,” meaning the last leg of a commuter’s journey, such as a short hop from a train station or bus stop to a commuter’s final destination.
“The approach to our business is solutions oriented,” Lee said. “Through that lens we looked at problems in urban commuting and living, and created a line of patented lightweight electric vehicles that easily fold and fit into, let’s say, a subway car, to ease the commuting experience.”
Lee said the company is on track to reach $10 million in sales this year compared with $4 million last year. He declined to comment on funding and investors but said the latter were all Angelenos.
Urb-E was co-founded in 2014 by Lee, Sven Etzelsberger and Grant Delgatty. Etzelsberger, a former lead engineer at automotive firms Porsche and Fisker Inc., led the product’s engineering.
Delgatty, who first came up with the idea of the Urb-E, led the design and functionality of the product. He is a former shoe designer for Vans and teaches at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena.
The company began production in fall 2015, making the products out of carbon-fiber and aircraft aluminum parts from some of the same vendors supplying materials to the likes of Boeing Co., Lee said. The manufacturing and assembly of the product happens in one of its two Pasadena facilities that together employ 26 people. The headquarters also serves as a showroom.
The company considers its competition to include ridesharing services such as Uber, bicycle makers and even “second parking spaces” or parking spots drivers need in nearby cities when commuting to work, said Evan Saunders, head of sales and marketing.
The difference in owning an Urb-E, Saunders said, is that it is not as bulky and takes less space than a bike, and it saves money and time compared with ridesharing services and additional parking costs. Prices range from $899 to $1,999 for the scooters, which have a 16- to 20-mile range per charge, weigh 30 to 35 pounds and can reach speeds of 14 to 18 miles per hour, depending on the model.
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