Big wheels. A powerful body. A lot of attitude. I’m not describing a 1960s Mustang, but an electric scooter designed by the British startup Taur. The winner of Fast Company‘s 2021 Innovation by Design Award in the mobility category, Taur is on a mission to make scooters as desirable as muscle cars. “The challenge now is for people not to be thinking, ‘I want a Mustang,'” says Taur cofounder and head of product Carson Brown. “But ‘I want a Taur scooter.'”
That might sound awfully ambitious, but there’s a compelling logic at play: E-scooters help solve what urban planners call the last-mile problem, in which public transit often fails to usher commuters along the final stretch of their journey. As a result, commuters may ditch the bus or subway for a car, exacerbating traffic and CO2 emissions. That was the impetus behind a rash of ride-sharing startups that filled city streets with e-scooters starting in 2017, promising a cheap, fast, eco-friendly way to get from point A to point B.
But e-scooters aren’t a perfect solution. Most are modeled after children’s flimsy kick-scooters, making them particularly dangerous on city streets (most cities ban e-scooters on sidewalks). They aren’t actually that good for the environment. And frankly, they just look dorky. At the height of the e-scooter craze, parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live, looked like a circus of grown men on clown bikes.
Taur’s scooter hardly resembles its competitors. Designed to prioritize the rider’s safety, it has 12.5-inch, Kevlar-reinforced wheels to ensure a smooth ride over the bumpiest pavement. A deck that’s 2.5 times wider than that of a traditional scooter lets you plant both feet next to each other for balance. And an LED light at the scooter’s base projects onto the rider’s back, making her more visible to drivers. “We did an abnormal amount of innovation [on this scooter],” Brown says.
The scooter has an aircraft-grade aluminum body that’s easy to recycle at the end of its life, and it’s designed for personal use, not ride-sharing, which is partly responsible for e-scooters’ surprisingly significant environmental footprint—the scooters have to be transported by car from one docking spot to the next. To fit unobtrusively in people’s homes, the scooter folds up and stores upright on its handles like an umbrella stand. A sleek, matte paint job won’t clash with your furniture.
Taur costs $1,395 on pre-order (shipping in November). That’s more expensive than the average e-scooter and comparably priced to many electric bikes. But to Brown, it’s a long-term investment in a greener, safer way to travel. “What we’re trying to do is present an option that people are excited about,” he says. “That people can get behind and go, ‘It’s so effortless and easy and fits into my life so well, why wouldn’t I do it?'”
See more from Fast Company’s 2021 Innovation by Design Awards. Our new book, Fast Company Innovation by Design: Creative Ideas That Transform the Way We Live and Work (Abrams, 2021), is on sale now.