50cc Scooter

... petrol to electric energy...

France: scooters built before June 1st 2000 are banned from central Paris between 8am-8pm during the week. Lyon, Grenoble and the Bordeaux region followed suit as are many more...

UK : Ultra Low Emission Zone – ULEZ  will operate 24/7 for pre-Euro 3 scooters/motorbikes : £12.50 / day levy – the same as a car. Other countries and cities are following suit.

Spain : Madrid has banned 'old' scooters between 7AM and 10PM. Other EU countries and cities have followed suit

Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Germany : all have introduced anti-fossil fuel legislation.

More and more scooters are considered 'old' and 'dirty' and being consigned to a premature scrapheap.

Why not, instead, convert them to a cleaner technology ?

Once electric they can, technically, become non-carbon fuel burning, non-Co2 and non-NOx polluting - powered by wind or solar or nuclear or...

My point ?

...a project to convert a 'bog-standard' 50cc petrol scooter into a more eco-friendly, quieter, more reliable, cheaper to run, less oily and more sustainable ride..

According to many scientists and the World Health Organisation (WHO), vehicle emissions are a leading source of greenhouse gas and a huge contributor to urban air pollution.

... petrol to electric energy...

Netherlands : There are currently more than 1 million 50cc scooters in the Netherlands, 77% of them were built before 2011; the Dutch class them as ‘old’. Such scooters are now banned from Amsterdam. More cities are following suit.

Do we not, at least, have a duty to try... ?

To be frank, if I can complete a conversion in my garage, so too can you, in your garage, your school or your tech. department at college ! 

Now, wouldn't that be (if nothing else) a fun project with a really useful end-result that would make anyone feel good !!

So, what's the idea with this Scoot-ee - thing ?

I live in France, one of the largest 50cc scooter / moped countries in Europe. They're stinky and they're noisy (the scooters, I mean) and, if my son and his friends are anything to go by they're problematic and hence costly - for both the teenagers AND their parents - with many of them constantly requiring repair. Granted, they are a massive source of independence for teenagers and they have long been convenient ways to zip around crowded European towns and cities, however, in truth, since their huge rise in popularity, few of us have really questioned their disadvantages due to lack of a better alternative. Until more recently, that is... when governments across Europe and further afield began to question the long-term viability of continued diesel/petrol vehicle use across their countries and introduced laws to curb city access to even pre-Euro 3 (July 2007) scooters.

​The more I read, the more interested (and slightly incensed) I became. Whilst I understand that pollution - especially high from older vehicles - needs to be addressed, it seems that new legislation is consigning, otherwise perfectly sound, vehicles to an early grave by way of the scrapheap when, potentially, such vehicles could be modified by switching their internal combustion engines to electric motors. I do understand that this legislative route rids our roads of the more highly polluting vehicles whilst increasing governmental tax revenues on sales of replacements and ensuring continued future fuel pump revenues but it does so by enforced environmental destruction and replacing of many perfectly serviceable vehicles before their natural end-of-life 'just' because they're now (rightly) considered  dirty / polluting. To be fair I am all for reducing vehicle emissions but surely, repair and recycle are far more ecologically sound principals than ban/tax, dispose-of and buy new which still has the end result of keeping a fossil-fuelled vehicle on the roads !

Taking all of this a couple of steps further it seemed 'obvious' that we should, where possible and where it's efficient to do so, be modifying older 'dirty' vehicles to electric and, in so doing, recycling and upgrading them !

So... where better to start than a relatively small 50cc Scooter project ? !

Why not convert existing 'dirty' petrol scooters to electric ?

What would doing so involve mechanically and electrically ?

What would doing so involve legally ?

What skills would be required / learned / improved ?

How much time would it take ?

How much money would it cost ?

What would the end-result provide - in terms of speed, acceleration and range/duration between re-charges (effectively, cost / Km )?

Anyways, after some more research,  I concluded that there are basically three main 'issues' holding back mass adoption of an electric alternative, namely  : 


range and 

'refill' / re-charge time.

I guess there is a fourth 'issue' and that's one of governmental / legislative restrictions but these are country specific and I feel that they can be dealt with once a working, viable (cost effective) solution is widely available and such a solution gains some traction - just as some countries are now relaxing the laws against two-wheeled stand-up scooters being used on the roads...


Just a bit of reasoning quickly brought me to the conclusion that the first three of those 'issues' (above) are, to a greater or lesser extent, inter-dependent and changing fast. Now that we have the numbers of electric bicycles, stand-up scooters and cars available to us, battery technology is advancing exponentially. Agreed, we're not 'there' yet but, electric IS coming and whilst batteries still pose ongoing 'challenges' with regard to the 'issues' above, there are very few (if any) major advancements to be made with electric motors, controllers and battery chargers (all around, or already better than, 90% efficient) and all of them requirements for an electric motorbike / scooter..

So, batteries would seem to be the primary' issue'... BUT they can, with sympathetic initial design, be swapped out as technology advances, thereby 'future-proofing' them to a greater or lesser extent...

Anyway, if for no other reason, converting a typical 50cc petrol scooter to electric should be both interesting and fun without being too costly a project - certainly, my son and his mates are all very keen to see the outcome - if only to laugh and ridicule my attempts... And so the idea was born...

... to convert a 50cc scooter to electric...

at a reasonable cost,

within a reasonable work-period

whilst providing good performance,

a realistic range and

a reasonable re-charge time...

in short...

to create a scooter my son and his friends would be

delighted  (I won't reproduce the noise or the smell) 

willing to own, ride and be seen riding !

Ideally, I'd like to think that the final result could be made available as a 'kit', if not as a box of physical parts then as a detailed instruction manual for the average DIY'er to complete or maybe we could start up conversion workshops where we helped each other out. The skill-set is varied and could possibly even suit various Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths courses that lead to some professional qualification - not to mention the fact that each converted scooter would be removing (or recycling) an old, noisy, smelly, fossil-fuelled, Co2/NOx polluting scooter from our roads and replacing it with a cleaner, greener, quieter eco-Scoot-ee - RESULT !!

That way I'd feel like I'd done my environmental 'bit' for our kids' futures... 

So, without further ado, I'll begin. Feel free to join in (ask questions and comment, or just have a laugh) via the blog and remember, should you find it interesting,  you'll be able to subscribe to the blog feed so that you'll never miss an update...


© 2017 Ian Watts