Akron business giving e-scooters a second life

AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – Outside a warehouse in Akron sits a monument to a fad, that at one time was all the rage in cities across America.

Stacked in large piles are thousands of older model electric scooters, that over the years were a common sight, but interest in scooter rentals is now waning.

“I think there were probably too many companies competing in the cities and you’d see large piles of scooters on every corner and it was frustrating people,” said Ben Baker, owner of Summit e-Waste Recycling Solutions. “It would be in the way on the sidewalks and less and less people were riding them and so the companies that were competing had to pull out of the cities.”

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Nearly 8,000 scooters were salvaged by Baker’s Akron-based recycling company, that also repairs and re-sells old computers.

Baker says he paid only $100 and pulled the scooters from a scrapheap in a Cleveland warehouse, after fire inspectors voiced concerns about the danger created by so many lithium batteries in one space.

Baker and his employees are now repairing the scooters and selling them to individual customers.

“I really thought it would be a great opportunity either way. If we could get them working, sell them back as working units so people could use them. If not, they have valuable components in them. The lithium can be recycled, the motors and the aluminum frames themselves can be recycled,” said Baker.

The team at Summit e-Waste Recycling was able to modify the old scooters and make them easy to start and operate for the new owners.

“It does require a smart phone with Wi-Fi capability, so you simply turn the Wi-Fi on, connect to the scooter and enter your password. It’ll connect, you can unlock the scooter and you can ride it around, you can control the speed limit. When you’re done, you turn it off and you can set an alarm.”

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It turns out that there is high demand to own the scooters, that once were the symbols of a New Age in American cities.

“We’ve heard from retirees who want to ride around as a couple and just enjoy the city and we’ve had college students, we’ve had people buying them for their children, just everyone you can imagine. It’s amazing,” Baker said.

So far they have sold 150 old scooters and are trying to keep up with back orders. Baker says the price for a scooter in good condition is $200.

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