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Alt-Green

From Unu, la dolce vita minus the petrol fumes

About the author

Ken is a freelance writer and editor who resides in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A former newspaper reporter and magazine editor, Ken has more than 25 years of editorial and communications experience.

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The late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent once expressed something that Porsche 911 owners have known for decades: while fashions fade, great style is eternal. The makers of the new Unu electric scooter apparently would agree.

Many electric scooter makers – IKOO, ZEV, BMW and Yamaha among them – strive for a rakish, futuristic mien. But with its soft, sensual curves, the Unu evokes iconic Vespa and Lambretta models, something that would feel more at home in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita than in Transformers: Age of Extinction.

Not that the emissions-free scooter doesn’t have technology chops. It features a two-kilowatt electric motor, mounted in the rear-wheel hub and powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Top speed is limited to 28mph, obviating the need for a driver’s license in most countries, and the bike delivers maximum estimated range of 31 miles. There is a slot available for an optional second battery, which doubles the Unu’s range.

For scoot enthusiasts who want a little more oomph while flashing their eco street cred, Unu, based in Munich, Germany, also offers two more powerful motors.

Protected by a brushed aluminium casing, the portable battery – which weighs 17.5lbs and comes with a strap for easy transport to an outlet for charging – can fully recharge in a 230v electric outlet in five hours. And a kinetic-energy recovery system (KERS), based on the same technology used in Formula 1 racecars, transfers energy back to the battery every time a rider applies the brakes. Want to know if the battery is running low? Pressing a status button  gives the answer.

For fashionistas, the Unu – which weighs in at a svelte 128lbs, or roughly 130lbs less than a Piaggio Vespa Primavera 50 – is available in 65 different colours. Cooler yet, you can order an Unu online and have it delivered to your doorstep. The retail cost? About 1,699 euro (roughly $2,300). The chance to feel like you’re starring in a Fellini movie absent all the petrol fumes? Priceless.

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