Lit Motors certainly doesn't lack in the ambition department. Last year, the vehicle startup announced that it's working on the C1, a two-wheeled mutant vehicle that looks like a car sliced in half. The C1 hasn't even launched, but Lit is already onto a new project: the Kubo, an electric cargo scooter that has the distinction of being the first vehicle on Kickstarter.
The electric Kubo is designed for people who like to ride bicycles and motorcycles, but also need to carry stuff around—the vehicle's cargo rails and hooks can accommodate everything from grocery bags to big boxes of supplies. Lit's latest vehicle, which features an electric drivetrain, can go up to 45 mph and hold a charge for 50 miles (it can be recharged in a regular wall outlet).
The Kubo's inclusion on Kickstarter was something of a twist of fate. A few months ago, someone set up a scam Kickstarter campaign under the Lit Motors name, garnering 60 backers. After the campaign was taken down, one of Kickstarter's founders reached out to Lit to apologize. "We had a direct line to say 'Hey, we're thinking about launching something on Kickstarter.' They've been toying with hardware category restrictions," explains Ryan James, Lit’s Chief Marketing Officer.
So Lit got involved with Kickstarter, where it now has just under $46,000 in funding with seven days to go (at the time of writing). The goal is $300,000, which will be difficult to reach at this point. Regardless of what happens with Kickstarter, Lit plans to go ahead with production—the scooter will be a way to bring in revenue before the C1 is launched, says James. He adds: "It's not taking away from development of the C1. It's a different team working on it. We're hiring a completely different team to take over the last bit of engineering and design refining and actual production."
The compact Kubo has one big limitation: people need a motorcycle license to drive it. "The market is people already riding around on scooters and motorcycles," says James. "Those are the people that are already familiar with how much of a pain it is to carry things with you on a scooter, on a motorcycle."
At $5,000 for the Kickstarter early-bird price, the Kubo isn't cheap, either. But James envisions companies as well as individuals buying the vehicle—pizza delivery guys could use it, corporate campuses could have Kubos lying around, and services like FedEx could use it for last-mile deliveries (as James notes, FedEx drivers in San Francisco have to double-park to make deliveries, and often get tickets as a result).
The question is whether companies—and consumers—would be willing to take a chance on a completely new type of vehicle. A handful of backers pledging to buy the Kubo at full-price doesn't prove anything yet. We'll find out when the vehicle actually launches. Kickstarter backers can expect to get their vehicles in July 2014.