How Unagi Subscription is Different from Scooter Rentals?

Daniel Foley
Written By: Daniel Foley
Updated on: 3/21/2024
Published on: 2/19/2024

We are all familiar with the concept of renting. In fact, you can rent just about anything you want today. However, it's always considered innovative when an industry introduces the concept, as was the case for scooter rentals. Scooters had become so popular that everyone wanted one. But there were limitations–cost for one: not everyone could afford a decent scooter. For others, the challenge was finding secure parking at home or the office, and with some, e-scooters weren't a full-time necessity.

Therefore, when scooter rental companies began to pop up, it felt like a game changer for many individuals. Now, you could either buy your scooter or rent it–problem solved, or so everyone thought. But there were some unforeseen challenges with the rental alternative; the main one being the constant dilapidated state of ride-share scooters due to their lack of maintenance.

A few other issues surrounding rental scooters came to light, laying the groundwork for the inception of Unagi All-Access Scooter Subscription - our focus for today.

How different is it from rentals? Is it worth the money compared to ownership or renting? Are there advantages to renting over the subscription plan? These and many other core questions arise when considering Unagi's subscription service, so let's begin.

Unagi Membership

Unagi

We'll start by asking the fundamental questions. What is Unagi's subscription service, and how is it different from ownership or scooter rentals?

To first address that, you need to understand that Unagi is a transport solution.

And to paint a better picture, think about the challenges you experience when moving from point A to point B, on your preferred means of transport. We'll help you.

  • Being stuck in traffic is the biggest challenge to urban transport
  • High cost of fuel, if you choose to drive
  • Ridiculous parking fees, if you can get the parking spot to begin with
  • Taxis and ride-hail services are only worthwhile when done on someone else's bill
  • Untimely scheduling of public transport means
  • Distance to and from the train station or bus stop
  • Grease on your clothes if you opt for traditional bicycles
  • Lack of portability, should you forego manual bicycles for electric ones
  • Empty bike or scooter stations precisely when you need to rent one
  • Not enough charge on the rental e-scooter or e-bike that's available
    Low-powered e-scooter rental models, beating the purpose of choosing scooters to begin with
  • Not to mention, the carbon footprint issue with most popular transportation modes

Recognizing these pertinent issues is what has led to the increased popularity of micro-mobility solutions like e-scooters, which were designed as the perfect first and last-mile solutions for the daily commuter.

Besides that, scooters are a flexible and efficient way of navigating the environment, with the added advantage that they reduce congestion on the road and significantly lower emissions. And with growing innovation in the field, electric scooters are actually now postured to be car replacements - think of scooters like the UNAGI Voyager, Apollo Pro or Segway GT2.

Unagi Charger

That said, not everyone could (can) afford a scooter, which quickly served as an opportunity for scooter rental services. And they were good, momentarily. We'll get into finer detail, but the gist of it is, rental models did not exactly satisfy everyone's commuting needs. It's courtesy of these countless frustrations that Unagi came about with their subscription service.

Unagi's subscription or Subscription Model refers to a service where customers pay a monthly fee to have access to their own personal electric scooter. With the service, customers enjoy the benefits of owning a scooter without paying the high upfront costs involved with purchasing one.
Currently, Unagi's offering consists of two scooters: the Unagi Model One Classic and the Unagi Model One Voyager.

Let's briefly look at the features of each of the Unagis, before exploring what the subscription model has to offer.

Unagi Model One Classic

Unagi Model One Classic

This is the original version of the Unagi: a well-built, durable, and aesthetically pleasing electric scooter. The Model One is also famed as an ultra-lightweight scooter at 28.5 lbs and is the lightest electric scooter equipped with dual motors.

The scooter has a claimed range of 12 miles from the 259 Wh battery, though an independent review found it to reach 8.5 miles in real-world conditions. The same reviewer rode the Unagi scooter to a top speed of 20 mph, with an acceleration rate of 4.4 seconds to a top speed of 15 mph. The scooter especially excels on hills thanks to the dual 250 W motors, which saw the scooter scale a 200ft, 10% incline in just 9.3 seconds.

Riders might also be interested to know that the scooter is IPX4-rated, carries a max load of 220 lbs, has dual electronic anti-lock brakes with an added foot brake in the rear, has a pair of solid puncture-proof 7.5-inch tires, a spacious deck, a front light, and is one of the most aesthetic scooters around.

Unagi Model One Voyager

Unagi Voyager


This is the Unagi upgrade released in 2023, that addresses the range issue that riders experienced as well as offers a performance boost. The Voyager is a culmination of advancements in battery cells, motor controllers, and material science technology, delivering a zero-compromise scooter.

For 1.1 lbs more than the classic, you get so many improvements with the Voyager, chief among them the increase in range from the claimed 12 miles to 25 miles. An independent reviewer managed to do 12 miles in real-world conditions, which marked a significant improvement over the Classic.

Additionally, the dual-motor Voyager also got a boost in its total power output from 800W to 1000W. An independent review claims the Voyager was 12% faster on hills than the Classic, which aligns with the improved torque spec from 26 Nm to 32 Nm. However, most of the other basics remain the same, from braking to tires to lack of suspension etc.

That said, we'd be remiss not to mention enhancements like the Voyager's 360 Wh battery, the improved LED display that's bright, attractive, and easy to read, the state-of-the-art app that opens up a world of possibilities with ride efficiency and management of the scooter subscription, and finally, that the scooter comes in more funky colors than before making the Voyager a true stand out.

The scoop on Unagi’s subscription


With that understanding of the product, we can move on to the service. These are the structural benefits of Unagi's subscription Plan:

Affordable subscription model

All you have to do is sign up for a subscription package, and the scooter is yours for the month. The prices are reasonable, with the Classic model's package starting at $39, and the Voyager's at $69. We consider this a steal, especially considering the premium quality of the Unagi scooters.

Flexibility in your Unagi ownership

The subscription model lets you have a feel for what it's like to own a scooter but just for the length of your subscription. Should you feel that scooters aren't for you, or experience a change in your social, physical, financial, or work life that no longer accommodates owning the scooter, the plan allows for you to cancel at any time, with no hidden charges attached.

Free express delivery

Once your account is set up, the rest is quite straightforward. First, you get free shipping, which should occur within three days. And thanks to the thoughtful design, assembly should take you no amount of time before you're off on your scooter adventure.

Proactive maintenance

This is a preemptive approach that addresses the biggest challenge with rental scooters. Unagi scooters are delivered having undergone full maintenance and with all repair needs addressed. You basically get a scooter that's road-worthy, and with certainty that it will give you as close to zero downtime as possible.

Theft insurance

Electric scooter thefts are not unheard of - in fact, they're quite rampant in high-use areas like school campuses. And though manufacturers are constantly trying to improve the security features of their scooters, the risk of theft is ever-looming. Unagi has taken a different approach - anti-theft insurance. In the event of a theft incident, subscribers simply report the issue to Unagi who undertakes the follow-up. What's more, they ensure you're back on the move with as minimum delay as possible.

Upgradability

If you're currently on the Model One Classic subscription, with just a modest increase in your monthly charge, you can upgrade to the Voyager model. In fact, it's only $30 more. And Unagi has assured their current subscribers of this upgradability, whether it relates to a new product or simple software and hardware upgrades.

U-Nite: The scooting community

Unagi holds monthly meet-ups dubbed Unagi U-Nite Rides where riders get to participate in fun activities in major cities across the country. It's more than just riding together, it's about a shared passion for scooters, exchanging experiences with fellow riders, and networking with like-minded individuals.

Scooter Rentals

Scooter Rentals

The scooter rental model is pretty straightforward--think of it as a scooter-as-a-service business concept. Customers can rent scooters for a specific period and only pay the fee calculated based on the duration of the rental. It's a brilliant scheme for people who don't own scooters but occasionally need their convenience.

The idea of shared scooters emerged in North America in the year 2017, through Lime, who were at the time known as LimeBike. Today, Lime remains one of the biggest players in the space and operates out of San Francisco, USA. However, the concept of scooter rentals has been adopted by numerous other companies and has spread to cities all over the world.

Some of the most popular electric scooter rental firms today include:

  • Bird: Operating in 100 cities in North America, Europe and the Middle East
  • Lime: Big players in the rental space as a whole, including cars, mopeds, bikes, etc
  • Spin: Recently acquired by Ford Motors Company, it is operational in 19 cities in the US
  • Wind Mobility: Barcelona and Berlin-based, providing scooters to the cities and special institutions like hotels, campuses etc.
  • Bolt: Big in the car-sharing and bike rental space, and now, with their sights on electric scooters
  • Skip: Launched by Boosted Boards, this is a dockless e-scooter rental service
  • Scoot: Another San-Francisco based rental firm and one of the three firms chosen as operators, alongside Bird and Lime, in the city under a pilot program by SFMTA
  • Goat: Another dockless rental firm, operating out of Austin
  • Circ: Formerly Flash, this Berlin-based firm operates in the cities of 7 European nations
  • Dott: Quite colorful, matching the vibrancy of the European cities they serve
  • Jump: A subsidiary (acquired) of Uber, benefiting from the experience and resources of the parent company

Let's look at how rental models work.

How to rent a scooter?

The basic operation is the same across the different scooter rental providers.

  • You have to first download the app for the specific scooter. You might have seen them around or settled on one firm based on an internet search or by recommendation.
  • Search for nearby scooters. The ride-share companies have systems integrated to provide precise locations for the vehicle nearest your search location.
  • Walk to the scooter, and once there, scan the QR code. In some instances, you might be required to enter the vehicle ID.
  • Depending on the company, you might be asked to enter payment details before your ride, while others have your details on record and deduct the fees at the end of the ride.
  • At the end of your ride, you're required to lock the scooter. The App should also lead you to a designated parking spot; alternatively, you’d have to find one yourself.

Benefits of electric scooter rentals

Scooter rentals have their place in the transport ecosystem, and here's why:

Convenience

Convenience

They offer a convenient mode of transport, especially if you're trying to beat traffic. Scooter rentals are also practical for a person who has a very specific route that would be chaotic by vehicle or public transport.

Affordability

Scooter rentals are affordable when compared to ownership or the fuel costs associated with driving. That said, different ride-share firms offer different packages; e.g. Lime has a $1 unlocking fee, and additionally charges $0.30 per minute, $7.00 for a 20-minute ride, and $280 for a month's worth of rides. Bird, on the other hand, charges a standard unlocking fee of $1, and a per-minute charge of $0.15 to $0.33 depending on your city. Most other firms don't veer off too much from these figures, therefore, you get the picture.

Accessibility

Accessibility

Shared e-scooters are easily accessible. You just need the app, and it will point you to the nearest one. And with so many options available, it gets even easier to locate one.

Relatively sanitary

Rental scooters are more sanitary than most other public means of transport. You can quickly wipe down the bars with alcoholic or antibacterial wipes to feel more at ease using them. While you can do the same on buses, there are more moving parts there, especially the presence of your fellow passengers.

Flexibility

Shared scooter programs offer the flexibility of being able to hop on a scooter without the long-term commitment of owning one.

Solution to the traffic and parking problem

Renting scooters instead of driving lessons highway congestion, and eases the parking burden in most cities.

Environmental friendly transport

They are small electric vehicles; therefore, eco-friendliness is part of the sell.

What differentiates the Unagi subscription from scooter rentals?

We have the groundwork laid for each service. Now, let's see how they pit against each other.

Cost comparison

Unagi's subscription is overall much more economical compared to rental models. We established that you can get the Unagi Model One Classic for $39 a month, and the Voyager for $69. In addition, members are required to pay an extra $50, that is Unagi’s one-off setup fee; therefore, on your maiden subscription, you pay a total of $89 for the Classic, and $119 for the Voyager.

Given that this gets you access to the scooter for an entire month makes it quite the bargain.

We'll compare this with the suggested charges for Bird and Lime.

If a customer was to take a 20 - minute ride for 30 days; with Bird, the minimum charge would be $120 calculated from (30 x $1unlock fee) + (20 mins x $0.15 × 30 days)

With Lime, the figure would be about $240 calculated from (30 x $1 unlock fee) + ($7 for 20 minutes x 30 days).

Accessibility

Upon subscription, Unagi delivers the scooter to you. With your Unagi subscription, the scooter is yours for the month; therefore, it is accessible at any time, any day within your subscription. In contrast, with scooter rentals, you have to search for the nearest accessible vehicle and find your way to it. Not to mention, there's always the off chance there's no scooter near your current location.

Convenience

There's the convenience of hopping on your scooter and riding without the monotonous process of first activating your ride or making payments with your Unagi. The same cannot be said of rental scooters. However, once you're on them, they both fulfil the primary role of electric scooters, which is convenient movement from one point to another.

Maintenance and quality of the scooter

With Unagi, you're assured of getting a pristine-condition scooter that's undergone all the necessary maintenance and repair before arriving at your doorstep. Renters on the other hand are quite reckless with shared scooters, so the state of the vehicle you get really depends on the ten or so people that had it before you. Not to mention that the frequency of repairs isn't nearly enough to keep up with the abuse the scooters go through in the hands of renters.

Parking hassle

Parking Electric Scooter

Thanks to the ownership provision in Unagi's subscription, you can bring your scooter with you to your work building, home, or appointments at the end of your trip. Ultimately, there's less parking hassle there. With scooter rentals, you need to locate a parking station that might consequently take you out of your way, beating the purpose of the last-mile commute.

Limited app features

Limited app features

You only have a rental scooter for the 20 or so minutes between destinations. By virtue of this, the apps on rental models are pretty basic and straightforward in action. Unagi's app, on the other hand, offers an interactive experience, allows you to customize your scooter, relays important data, and is quite efficient. It's actually so well integrated that it beats a lot of apps found on off-the-shelf models.

Ride quality

Ride quality

Shared scooters are usually low-powered, with poor attention to design detail, and with minimum effort to make them any sort of technological marvel. Contrary, Unagi has invested in premium models that are fun to ride, have enough power to tackle daily riding needs, have quality parts that don't fall apart on tumble, and are ergonomically designed for maximum comfort.

Ride like a pro

Ride like a pro

Since you own your Unagi, you can hone your skills without looking at the timer. If scooting is something you'd want to get into, it's easier to learn on your Unagi than a rental model whose timer is accompanied by a cost anxiety that might hinder fast learning.

Subscription plan

The Unagi subscription structure works for regular commuters who might need the scooter on more than two or three occasions in a week. For riders that require the scooter less than 5 times a month, then a rental program works better in their favor, and this is the one time renting beats the subscription model.

Conclusion

How Unagi membership is different from scooter rentals

In conclusion, the Unagi subscription service stands out as a compelling alternative to traditional scooter rentals, addressing several pain points associated with shared scooter programs. The Unagi subscription service offers a range of benefits, including free express delivery, proactive maintenance to ensure roadworthiness, theft insurance, upgradability options, and participation in the U-Nite community meet-ups. This approach contrasts with the limitations and uncertainties often associated with scooter rentals, such as variable ride quality, limited app features, parking challenges, and the potential inconvenience of locating available scooters.

So, while scooter rentals have their own advantages, particularly in terms of convenience, affordability for occasional users, and environmental friendliness, the Unagi subscription service targets a niche audience looking for a more tailored and reliable commuting experience. Ultimately, the choice between Unagi's subscription service and traditional scooter rentals depends on individual preferences, frequency of scooter usage, and the desire for a more comprehensive and ownership-like experience.


Daniel Foley
Daniel Foley

Daniel tests all the latest e-scooters and currently enjoys the Unagi Voyager as a daily driver for it's light weight, good range, and stylish look.

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