It’s time to figure out what we’re calling all these things.
Image: ERIC LALMAND / AFP via Getty Images
Just because it has two wheels, an electric motor, and a battery doesn’t mean you can call it a scooter.
SAE International, the engineering association that sets standards for autonomous vehicles, announced its first classification system for “powered micromobility vehicles,” otherwise known as e-scooters and other small electric vehicles, on Thursday.
These new terms are here because the term “scooter” was applied to anything and everything. Human-powered and battery-free scooters are called scooters (like old-school Razors). Small mopeds and some lightweight motorcycles are called scooters (like Vespas and Scoot vehicles). And then scooter-share companies like Bird, Lime, and others call their electric vehicles “scooters,” too. It’s so confusing.
With more of the devices and different variations entering the market (autonomous scooters are next, watch out!), SAE devised a helpful classification system complete with a taxonomy and naming convention for all the different ways you can get around. Each type of vehicle is defined by certain features.
What’s in a name.
We’ve got powered bicycles, powered standing scooters, powered seated scooters, powered self-balancing boards, powered non-self-balancing boards, and powered skates (like the Segway “hovershoes“). If it doesn’t have an electric component you can just call it a scooter, a bicycle, or a skateboard. Plain and simple.
It might take a while for a universal naming convention to catch on, but at least we can start talking on the same terms.