Swede Rickard Bröms spent 14 years building brands and marketing them for clients. Fed up with relying on public transport, he partnered with scooter experts Peter Klangsell and Mikael Klingberg, who founded KopEnScooter.Nu in 2004. Ten years later the company expanded into electric bicycles under the brand elcykelvaruhuset.se, with triple-digit annual growth. The result is Vessla (Swedish for Weasel – hence the pawprint logo…although it’s also a convenient mashup of Tesla and Vespa!), a 2,200euro no-frills electric scooter that’s selling out in small batches in Europe as it inches toward American shores in 2019.

Vessla isn’t some exclusive dandy brand. Vessla is for all of us who cares about the world. And the children. And want a smooth ride. We want everyone to afford a Vessla.” [Vessla]
I spoke with Bröms this week, just one month after he visited San Francisco.

Rickard, when and how did the idea for Vessla happen?

Basically it was me solving my own problem. I think it’s so freakin’ painful to travel to an office by public transport. It’s crowded, stinky and extremely time inefficient. I’d had it, and decided to get an electric scooter, only to realize that there weren’t any good ones out there. A few pretty soulless products, but no brand with a distinct position and some personality. So I thought ‘What the heck? I can’t be the only one googling for e-scooters without finding any…’ There and then I decided to give it a go. This was about October 2016.

Owners can ride on about 40-60 km on a single charge; the distance depends on your weight, tire pressure, wind, temperature, etc. Have range anxiety? Get another battery and double the range; both fit under the seat. [Vessla]
I decided to quit my day job, hooked up with some scooter knowledge and launched by August 2017 without having any Vesslas. They were on a boat to Sweden. But we opened for pre-orders anyway and sold out the first batch in three weeks. In January 2018 Batch 2 was sold out and now where on Batch 3 and have opened up for Norway, Germany and Spain. A few more EU countries will open during the year.  

I’m based in the heart of Silicon Valley, which is tied for second-most congested with Boston (after Los Angeles).  How can the Vessla curtail this nonsense?

I think there’s a lot of fuzz about moving from combustion engine cars to zero emission cars. That’s obviously a good idea. But they’re still cars and they’ll be filling up the roads as before. I think there should be more buzz about moving people from cars to light electric vehicles. From wide four-wheelers to slim two-wheelers. Not pods, four wheeled e-bikes or such. Slim LEVs. Like Vesslas. I think bicycles are great but they are obviously not for everyone since so few use them.

Powered by Bosch, which has hundreds of service centers all around Europe. [Vessla]
Here in Sweden, which is a pretty decent bicycle-friendly country, only six percent bike to work. About 80 percent still use cars or public transport. A significant chunk of those suffer each day and waste loads of time. I visited San Francisco a month ago and those hills aren’t very bike friendly. I heard that 30 percent of the car usage in SF are people looking for parking. That’s nuts. So yes, the Vessla mission is all about fighting traffic congestion and give the poor planet some slack at the same time. Would probably suit SF and Silicon Valley perfectly.

Speaking of the US, when will Vesslas be available here?

Our goal is to launch in the US during 2019. Focus is SF, LA, NYC and Boston. By then we’ll hopefully have our subscription service The Vessla Club live. I think some kind of servicification will give us a better shot across the pond. Like scooter as a service. Buying a Vessla will be like signing up for a mobile phone subscription. But that’s a secret so don’t tell anyone.

The Vessla is happiest running at 45 kph. [Vessla]
Who are the people behind the design, and where are they made?

We had a very simple design thought. The Vessla must look like a scooter. Not a spaceship. Accessible and non-snobby. We left out fluffy features customers don’t use. No app where you can honk the scooter. It’s just a scooter. But it’s totally silent, emission free and very soft to drive. We are new and small so we made a collaboration with some consultants and used the manufacturer for construction.

We make them in China. They are ten years ahead of Europe. But you really need to know where to go. It’s a jungle. So sorry, but no fancy industrial designer. But hey, this is our virginity model. Our Tesla Roadster. We are already under way with Vessla 2 and Vessla 3.

What’s next for Vessla; any additional models planned?

Yes, but we won’t say when. Our future focus will be design, safety and theft control. We’ve banned uselessness.

Available in Lebowski Black or Lennox Blue, the 2,200 euro Vessla is coming to America in 2019. [Vessla]
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