Focus Designs selling one-wheeled EV for commuter's last mile
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
Focus Designs' self-balancing electric unicycle sells for $1,795.
Angel investor-backed Focus Designs is shipping to customers its one-wheeled Segway-like vehicle aimed at commuters.
The electric vehicle, called an SBU for self-balancing unicycle, can go about 10 miles on a charge. The 27-pound unit is designed to be easily carried on a bus or stored under a desk in an office cubicle.
"It's no wider than a human footprint," said Alan Ecoff, customer relations manager for Focus Designs. "It's designed for use with urban public transportation. The bus doesn't drop everyone off at their doorstep."
The company's founders, Daniel Wood and David Martschinske, in October went on the ABC show "Shark Tank" The company is negotiating the details of a $300,000 investment from two of the show's "sharks."
Focus Designs, which was incorporated in 2007, is manufacturing the vehicles in China in 100-unit lots. Focus has a Japanese distributor signed on and is fielding interest from others in Europe and the U.S.
The electric unicycles sell for $1,795.00.
Based in Camas, Wash., Focus Designs is one of two one-wheeled EV companies in the Portland area. Ryno Motors of Portland has made a name for itself with its one-wheeled electric motorcycle and is raising money to begin production of its vehicle.
The Ryno, which had a roll-on role on the popular "Portlandia" comedy, is priced at $4,500 and has more power and about twice the range of Focus Design's SBU.
"The biggest difference is how easy Ryno is to learn to ride," said Chris Hoffman, founder of Ryno Motors. "With its handlebar steering it feels just like you're riding a bike."
For Focus Design's part, the company intends to move beyond the SBU to develop other products in the future.
"We want to become a design house," Ecoff said. "We're definitely interested in collaboration."
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