Japan-base Terra Motors said it plans to sell its smartphone-compatible electric scooter in Cambodia by the end of this year.
The lithium-battery-powered A4000i, introduced last week in Tokyo, can be connected to an iPhone, delivering live data while driving.
The cost per bike? Around $4,500.
“We will start to sell this scooter in December in all Asian countries, including Cambodia,” said Tetsuya Ohashi, a spokeswoman for Terra Motors. “We are now planning to have a branch office in Cambodia in one to two years.”
First, users download the required app from the company’s website. With the iPhone plugged into the scooter and covered with a protective lid below the odometer, the screen shows live updates on electricity consumption, battery power and location.
A more advanced model with navigation software is in the works.
Going at a maximum speed of 65 kilometres per hour, the electric vehicle has a length of 1.79 metres and weighs 118 kilograms. It takes about four to five hours of charging to regain a full battery.
“We think [of] Cambodia as a big potential market,” Ohashi said.
Some aren’t so sure about its prospects.
“My personal opinion is that this scooter will be too highly priced to be successful for your average Khmer,” Kevin Stainburn, president of the Phnom Penh Vespa Club, said.
“While it looks young and trendy, I think only the young rich Khmers of the more well-to-do-families will be able to afford it. These gimmicks on the scooters, such as hooking up to an iPhone, are not practical nor needed in this country, and therefore, I don’t think it will attract buyers.”
Terra Motors said they plan to develop less expensive models in the future and enable the connection to cheaper devices using Android smartphones.
Demand for both transport and personal technology is nothing new.
AEON Microfinance (Cambodia) Co, part of Japan-based AEON Group, said in May that sales by instalment for electrical appliances and motorbikes increased by 715 per cent in the first quarter of 2013 year on year, an upward trend that industry experts say will continue.
Since AEON Microfinance started business in December 2011, loan disbursement reached $2.5 million, with 5,000 new customers in the first quarter of this year, compared to $343,000 in the same period of 2012, according to a May interview with managing director Daisuke Maeda.
“Smartphones and PCs are the most popular, followed by motorbikes,” he said at the time.
The battery-driven scooter is not the first product Terra Motors is banking on introducing to the local market.
In March, the company told the Post that they were thinking of introducing their e-tricycle, an electric tuk-tuk.
Mass production doesn’t start until later this year.