Zipping through town: Zebra scooters focus on clean energy and mileage

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By Annika Tomlin

Electric scooters have seen a major increase in use over the past several years across the Valley. While some brands offer an inexpensive relief to the short around the corner excursion, trips ranging between 5 to 10 miles seem too far on smaller vehicles. That’s where Zebra comes in.

“(Other scooters on the market) are very interesting pieces of equipment but they don’t serve the day-to-day utility,” says Zebra co-founder R.J. Napolitano. “It’s just based on if they are around or if you can get one.

“We saw that people in Europe and Asia were using these types of ebikes, e-mopeds and they were huge. We said, ‘What if we brought them here and we made them a little bit more accessible and flexible.’ We started testing out the idea and it turned out that a lot of people agreed with us and that’s really how we got the start.”

Zebra launched in July 2019 as an eco-friendly, 100% electric with zero carbon emission alternative to driving a regular gas-fueled car. The company offers three scooter models, ranging in size and mile range that it can cover with a single charge.

“We focus on clean energy and the green initiatives going on, that’s one of the main reasons we chose to go electric,” Napolitano says.

Each Zebra comes as a fully assembled vehicle with one removable battery (two with ZX2) and one smart charger.

“Our longest-range model goes up to 120 miles, which is something that you can’t get anywhere else from electric,” Napolitano says.

“We also wanted to provide more utility, so we have the largest storage of any ebike on the market. It’s great for people who do food delivery or travel to the grocery store or run errands. We wanted something that is much more akin to a car replacement instead of just your typical bicycle.”

The smallest model, Z1, drives up to 35 miles on a single charge normally priced at $2,095 but currently on sale for $1,495. The next slightly larger model with utility storage called ZX1 goes up to 60 miles. It’s normally $2,599 and it’s currently $2,005. The longest battery-powered model, ZX2, drives up to 120 miles and retails for $3,095. It’s on sale for $2,595.

Buyers must be 16 or older, and shipping is free throughout the contiguous 48 states.

“(Our Zebras) have all of the rights and capabilities of a traditional bicycle: riding it on the right-hand side of the road, bicycle lanes. Anywhere that you can ride your typical bike that’s where you can ride these.”

The name Zebra came from an original investor, but Napolitano and his co-founder, Kody Amburgey, stuck with it.

“We felt like we wanted something that stood out from a lot of the other options,” he says. “A lot of the naming recently within micromobility are these fun animal names, which are great because they are memorable and spellable and all of that.

“Zebras we felt were one of the animals that just stands out. It’s different. It’s a little quirky but we also thought it was very cool.”

Zebra was created with the customer in mind, after a lot of research.

“I think being an early-stage company is always challenging, but I think there had just been a ton of attention on transportation, electric, micromobility and trying to come up with a way to make it unique and differentiate from the other options that were out there was really the most challenging part in the beginning,” Napolitano says.

Throughout the pandemic Zebra has seen an uptick in sales as opposed to using rideshare services “with other people that you have to be worried about,” Napolitano says.

“It’s been a really unfortunate year for everybody, and it’s presented its challenges, but we have seen a lot more people that are looking to their own safe sort of sanitary mode of transportation,” Napolitano says.

“What’s great about it is that no one else is going out and touching your scooter unless you allow them to, like someone that you know. It’s your personal method of transportation.

“There’s a lot of people unfortunately that have lost their jobs or are underemployed at this point and so we really were trying to make this as something that is more accessible and more affordable than the current options that are out there.”

Napolitano says several reviews about their vehicles have come back saying that people are “finding new restaurants and spots to go” around town they would normally miss driving in a car.

“I think the best part is that you get to see new parts of your city or town that you never really knew were there by just driving a car,” Napolitano says. “A ton of our users, myself included, just love to take it out for fun if it’s a nice day and just go exploring.”

Zebra is located in West Phoenix and allows for test rides on a case-by-case basis. Potential customers can email info@zebranow.com for their chance at a test ride on one of the three models.

UP NEXT FOR ZEBRA

Zebra is sponsoring Downtown Tempe’s A Mountain Challenge throughout May 31.

“We really like what they are trying to do in terms of getting people out more and more active and just trying something new within the community,” Napolitano says.

Registration is available online until May 15. For more information about registration, prizes and how to record hikes go to downtowntempe.com.

For more information about Zebra go to ridezebras.com. CT

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