NIU’s electric scooters, mopeds, and e-bikes have been a hit with adults around the world. Now the company is bringing that same electrically powered fun to a younger audience with the launch of a new kids’ scooter known as the NIU NQi Mini.
The scooter takes the shape of NIU’s popular N-series electric scooters, but in a scaled-down format.
In fact, I happen to own the scooter that this is based on, and I can tell you that it does a pretty good job of paying homage to the original.
You’ll still find the signature and often-copied NIU styling, including that halo headlight and easily recognizable body shape, but there are now a pair of removable stabilizer wheels to helps younger kids learn their balance.
The scooter also features a somewhat more primitive power supply, replacing the lithium-ion batteries found in most of NIU’s foreign market scooters with a small 12V 4.5Ah lead acid battery. The company claims a run time of over an hour from that diminutive 54 Wh battery, though the high efficiency is likely thanks to the sluggish top speed of just 5 km/h (3 mph).
For a kids’ scooter, that slow speed might just be a good idea.
If you thought this was just going to be a bare-bones NIU look-a-like scooter, then you’re probably mostly correct. But there’s still some decent embedded tech such as a reverse gear, working LED lighting, and even a music player. The MP3 player can pull songs off a USB drive or an SD card to belt out a kid’s favorite tunes.
I don’t know about your neighborhood, but I don’t see little kids rolling around here with a pocketful of SD cards loaded with their favorite MP3s. But hey, maybe that’s a cultural difference.
Speaking of a cultural difference, most of you reading this article won’t be able to test out the NIU NQi Mini. That’s because it’s currently only available in China, where it has launched with an MSRP of 699 RMB (approximately US $103).
It’s not the first time we’ve seen companies launch kid-specific electric vehicles. The youth market has been a favorite of companies like Razor, which has created ride-on electric scooters and mini dirt bikes for kids.
Tesla also teamed up with Radio Flyer to launch the Cyberquad for Kids ride-on ATV, complete with Tesla design mimicking the Tesla Cyberquad concept vehicle.
Electric bicycle makers have also created pedal-assist e-bikes designed for younger riders, getting kids started with throttle-less electric bikes from a young age.
There’s always some pushback when we cover EVs designed for kids, with the argument usually being that they should be out there pedaling a bike instead of riding an electric scooter.
I don’t disagree, but I also think that fun toys like these can be valuable for kids. Not only do they help teach balance skills (when you remove the training wheels), but they also help educate kids about the benefits of EVs from an early age. When you grow up with a quiet, relaxing, and zippy electric scooter, it’s hard to see a noisy, smelly, and constantly breaking-down gas motorbike as a positive thing.
So I say let the kids have their fun, as long as they’re also getting some solid saddle time in on a “real” bike.