SomEV Brings Electric Micromobility ‘To the People’ with Swappable, Leased Batteries

Natasha George and her husband, Reece Daniel, were perplexed at the mismatch between their professional lives and personal lives.

“We had often wondered why two battery engineers who are really passionate about climate change and really passionate about EVs didn’t own an EV,” George says. “We started thinking about the reasons why we didn’t, it boiled down to three main things: cost, charging infrastructure, and inconvenience.”

George and Daniel set out to address these barriers to electric vehicle (EV) adoption, with a mission to bring electric travel “to the people.” But rather than focusing on electric cars, they turned to electric micromobility vehicles, and SomEV was born.

Micromobility vehicles—such as e-bikes, e-scooters, and e-mopeds—are well positioned to replace many of our daily, local car trips. According to the Department of Energy, about 60 percent of vehicle trips in 2017 were under six miles, and almost 77 percent were 10 or fewer miles. Utilizing micromobility vehicles for these trips can mitigate traffic and result in fewer cars on the road. Crucially, electric micromobility vehicles are more affordable than electric cars, making the greener choice accessible to more people.

“Micromobility offers a convenient way to get around—one that is safe in terms of public health concerns in the pandemic, but also one’s that affordable, so you don’t have to buy a full-sized car,” George says. “The way I describe electric micromobility is it’s not discriminatory in terms of age or physical ability. You don’t have to know how to bike six miles to hop on an electric bike and be able to do that. I think once people try it, they really understand how transformative it can be.”

SomEV further reduces the cost barrier through its unique model—one where you can buy your vehicle but lease your battery for $20 per month. 

Leasing your battery has many advantages. Batteries are typically 30 to 45 percent of the vehicle cost, and are often the first part of the vehicle to go, according to George. That’s in part because of a lack of battery manufacturing standards, and because non-battery-experts often don’t know how to best maintain the battery. SomEV takes care of battery maintenance and repairs, and will replace your battery pack at any time. Battery leasing means a “significantly lower lifetime cost and longer-lasting batteries, which is better for our planet,” according to SomEV.

SomEV tackles the issue of charging infrastructure through its signature feature: swappable batteries that can be charged in your home. This technology eliminates the need to have outdoor charging and features a charger that you can bring with you wherever you go. 

In the future, SomEV envisions stationing battery swap kiosks—almost like vending machines—around major corridors to give their users charged batteries on-demand. SomEV also intends to design all of their micromobility vehicles to use the same battery, so that people can own multiple vehicles but lease just one battery.

George views SomEV as being “inherently local,” and the team routinely engages with their Somerville-area community. That community engagement included attending several of Greentown Labs’ EnergyBar networking events, and the company, which was founded in February 2019, joined Greentown in January 2020.

“Getting to Greentown was important to us because community is at our core, so we wanted to make sure we were surrounding ourselves with the right support systems and the right network to be able to thrive as a small business and a startup,” George says. “We really didn’t feel like we had a big network in the area, we felt like we didn’t have the right tools to set ourselves up for success. When I found out about all the types of programs that Greentown offers, I knew it was the perfect place for us to network, learn, and engage with other entrepreneurs in the cleantech community.”

Want to try out SomEV’s electric micromobility vehicles? Book a test ride!