Since its 2015 founding, the company’s scooters, ebikes and mopeds have been ridden over 8 billion miles by more than a million riders.
By Riley Kaminer
Miamians now have yet another way to get around the Magic City quickly, inexpensively, and sustainably.
Beijing-based, Nasdaq-traded NIU (pronounced like ‘new’) has doubled down on its South Florida presence with the opening of its flagship store, right in the heart of Brickell. The company’s regional warehouse is in Aventura, with additional stores in Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville – plus plans to launch in Orlando and Tampa within the next year or so.
NIU sells a wide range of electric-powered mobility devices: from kick scooters to ebikes to mopeds. Since being founded in 2015, the company’s devices have been ridden over 8 billion miles by more than a million active users. NIU claims that their devices have saved a cumulative 3.5 billion kilograms of CO2, which is equivalent to planting 173 million trees.
Benjamin McGill is Head of North America for NIU. During a visit to NIU’s new store, McGill told Refresh Miami that this location sets NIU on a strong trajectory for future growth.
“Alongside our distribution partners, we chose Brickell because we believe that in the next few years, the NIU brand is going to be just as recognizable as a Tesla or a Riese & Müller,” McGill explained. “Opening up a store in Brickell and controlling this market as a first adopter in the area will allow us to build our brand presence within the United States.”
McGill noted the upscale nature of NIU, which tends to open stores near other high end stores – such as next to the Bentley dealership in Fort Lauderdale and the Supreme store in downtown Manhattan.
“We put our brand in the best environment so people start recognizing NIU and realizing what it is,” said McGill. “It’s not just a mom and pop shop. It’s a globally recognized brand that is helping users adopt two wheel mobility rather than just stick with their car.”
Breaking down perceptions
McGill first connected with NIU during a stint living in China, where adoption rates for non-car personal mobility options are significantly higher than the US.
“In Shanghai, every individual – every family – rides a moped,” noted McGill. “It’s the ideal form of transportation in major cities.” It’s common to see kick scooters in the deepest depths of the Shanghai subway system as well, McGill said.
Not so much in Miami. “It took me 20 minutes to get through this road,” he said, pointing to the gnarly Thursday morning rush hour gridlock on Southwest 8th Street. “That’s the very case in point of why a scooter or a kick scooter or an ebike would be a preferable option.”
McGill, who lives in Pompano, said that he himself has been able to replace 70% of his car trips with one of NIU’s electric mopeds. But still, he acknowledged that it’s a bit of an uphill battle to convince American consumers to do the same.
“In the US, people are concerned that [alternative mobility solutions] won’t fit their transportation needs,” he asserted, underscoring range anxiety as top of mind. McGill urges skeptical consumers to think about their actual daily needs. For instance, Americans typically commute approximately 16 miles to work – a range that would be no sweat for an electric moped.
A micromobility mode for each and every customer
McGill noted that NIU has a fairly wide range of different customers.
“The electric kick scooters tend to attract younger customers: millennials and Gen Z,” he said. “As you go up in size and speed of our models, you’ll see the age of the population grow and get older.” The mopeds, for example, are more popular with customers in their 40s and 50s – many of whom might have already owned a motorcycle or moped in the past.
Out of the box, users only need a standard driver’s license to operate their mopeds. But if riders take a two-day training course to secure a motorcycle endorsement, NIU can unlock the scooter to go faster.
NIU’s kick scooters start at $599, with the KQi2 Pro. Its slightly souped up KQi3 models range from $699 to $949. The kick scooters come with an app through which you can lock and manage your device.
I tried the KQi3 model, and it definitely put a pep in my step. The model felt more solid than what you’d find in a typical rideshare scooter. I sailed across Brickell Plaza to Southwest 9th Street, where I barely felt the impact of any of the various potholes. The scooters make you feel slightly superhuman as you glide along at up to 20 miles per hour with just a couple of wheels propelling you forward.
Meanwhile, NIU also sells a series of ebikes that blur into mopeds, with top-of-the line models rivaling the speed and range of high-end gas-guzzling equivalents like Vespas.
Fitting into South Florida’s multimode mobility landscape
NIU represents just the latest option for South Floridians to ditch their car – at least part of the time.
New technologies, like those that NIU is developing, present a powerful opportunity to achieve carbon-free mobility in our region. Increasingly, South Florida is a hub for mobility innovators – such as at this year’s CoMotion conference.
Barriers still remain, however. Scooter sharing programs face political challenges (although Helbiz continues to grow regionally). A lack of bus drivers has led Miami-Dade to reduce its service. Metrorail services have also been made less frequent.
Still, NIU’s expanded footprint in South Florida is a sign of hope, showing the potential for growth in our region’s mobility market.
Interested in trying one of NIU’s devices out for size? Visit their retail store 84 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33130 (right next to Solitair), or check out their online store.
READ MORE IN REFRESH MIAMI:
- Miami-Dade County launches first scooter pilot program, bringing micromobility to Dadeland area
- Miami’s menu of mobility modes multiplies. How can tech-enabled transport support our growing region?
- The future of mobility on display during CoMotion, with Miami as focal point
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