Early History of Powered Scooters - the Autoped

Scooters of various descriptions have been around for a while, hands up if you owned a kick scooter as a child? 👍  I did - it was red with white solid wheels, however it was soon set aside once I could ride a bike.

You may be forgiven in thinking that powered scooters are a recent invention born from the latest battery technology. However we've been doing some research and were surprised to discover powered scooters have been around for a good few years, over 100 years in fact.

The "Autoped" (below) was the first mass produced scooter, manufactured between 1915 and 1922 in America and Germany. Powered scooters however were produced in enthusiast's workshops long before the Autoped.

With a top speed of over 20 mph and a claimed range of 125 miles the Autoped would be a match for today's modern day electric scooters and it would put today's "range figures" to shame.

While normally powered by a 155cc petrol engine an electric version was briefly made available after the design was purchased by Eveready, (the battery manufacturer). Unfortunately we've not been able to source any photos of this version.

autoped scooter

 
And it wasn't just commuters looking to use a scooter for the "last mile" of their commute. The US postal service also used a fleet of Autopeds (below).

US postal service scooters

 
The Autoped was also a favourite with the less law abiding citizens as it made for a perfect getaway vehicle. There were reports from the time of "rowdy youths terrorising Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.” Fast forward over 100 years and we have similar reports coming from trial schemes in UK cities. 

The Autoped wasn't just available in the US. Socialite and activist Florence Priscilla, Lady Norman, (below) was given an Autoped as a birthday present by her husband. Using it instead of the Tube to travel to her office in London - I wonder how many fixed penalty notices she received?
 

Lady Norman Florence scooter

 
The design of the Autoped bares a striking similarity to today's modern electric scooters. With a powered front wheel, a collapsible stem and 10" wheels, the standard size of many current electric scooter wheels.

autoped collapsible scooter

Autoped advertisements.

autoped advert

autoped ad


While the Autoped has been out of production for 99 years they do pop up every now and then in auctions. So keep your eye out, while you won't be able to snap one up for a bargain anymore you would be owning a very unique machine.


Photo of an Autoped in a Germany city.

autoped in germany


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