Dragonfly Hyperscooter. Four-wheel battery-electric scooter has relaunched after three-year delay … [+]
The Dragonfly Hyperscooter might well have been renamed The Phoenix. First introduced in 2019 by London-based D-Fly Group, a host of issues, primarily the Covid-19 pandemic, grounded its launch. As of today the four-wheel, battery-electric personal mobility vehicle is back—a little smaller, a little less expensive but able to traverse more difficult terrain.
Jez Williman, founder and CEO of D-Fly Group.
“One of the thing during Covid that struck me was how much people of the lower-end became reliant on shared scooters and popularity skyrocketed, the bicycle industry skyrocketed,” D-Fly founder and CEO Jez Williman told Forbes.com. “We want to make Dragonfly the premium mass market product, but not just for people with big, big pockets. We want to make it available to everybody.”
What makes the Dragonfly a “hyperscooter?” A key feature is its Formula 1-inspired steering system called “Full-Tilt Technology” using three-dimensional tilt and twist controls on a central pillar, engaging all four wheels simultaneously, syncing with the motions of the rider.
It features what the company says is the first-ever dual wishbone suspension, a fully adjustable hydraulic damped sprung suspension on all four wheels, adjustable deck suspension and full axle articulation.
The Dragonfly’s wide, four-wheel carbon fiber platform is designed for safety and stability.
It’s powered by two, 500 watt motors, providing about a 37 mile range depending on rider weight, wind and terrain with a top speed of 25 miles per hour. There’s even a reverse gear–unusual for a scooter.
DFX off-road Dragonfly model (left); DF on-road model (right)
There are two versions available—the DF for riding on smooth urban roads and the DFX for going off-road or other challenging conditions. It features wider fenders and hand guards.
Pricing is $1,850 to $2,200 depending on the model.
That’s a lot lower than the $4,999-$6,000 price range of the original Dragonfly introduced in 2019.
The three-year delay and resulting design and price drop all came when the Covid-19 pandemic rocked the world, according to Williman who was hospitalized with the condition.
“Everyone basically packed up and went home. We didn’t have access to our vendor base to a large extent. Clearly the bike industry went to Mars in terms of requirements and a lot of vendors closed their doors to any opportunity that presented itself,” he explained.
On top of that, Williman said the multi-billion dollar global company D-Fly was counting on to be what he termed its master manufacturing partner suddenly backed out of the deal.
“They just one day said, hey, we’re just not gonna do mobility anymore but thanks. I said, guys, really?” Williman recalled.
D-Fly eventually found another manufacturer and put a new design team in place in North America and developed a global team. But challenges to launch the Dragonfly remained.
The most significant was the higher-than-expected cost of tooling to build the original design which led the company to “make some design compromises to bring the go-to-market price and go to market cost down,” said Williman.
Over time the company also realized the market for e-scooters was changing, which spurred further re-thinking the Dragonfly.
“We were focused on a very compact, lightweight vehicle and then we realized one of the components, one of the pillars we wanted to take was the ability go not just on-road but off-road as well and have the sporting component to the vehicle,” Williman explained.
The result was changing the wheel size to a larger 10-inches from the original six to give the Dragonfly off-road capability. Doing so, however, meant additional design changes.
“By going up in wheel size we had to grow the basic wheel structure and the drive train had to grow to some extent,” Williman explained.
Some items such as integrated screens and speakers were simplified but not cheapened. Williman points to the five-inch screen he says has all the capabilities of one you might see in a high-end Japanese motorbike.
Among the other options are an on-board camera to record trips.
The Dragonfly Hyperscooter can be folded to save storage space.
Orders for the updated version of the Dragonfly are now available on the Indiegogo platform.
Those who put in orders back in 2019 have been made whole, said Williman. Anyone who requested a refund got one, but he asserted most customers are simply planning to order a new version. Eventually, elements of the original Dragonfly will be available as upgrades.
The company hopes to scale up to sales of 60,000-100,000 units within three years, Williman said.
It’s quite a comeback for both D-Fly and its founder—both surviving Covid and its after effects.
Williman is grateful for the chance to get Dragonfly off the ground once again, this time offering a more affordable but still fun, capable and pollution-free way for people get around, declaring, “We’re still all about saving the planet. We’re all about reducing fossil fuels. We’re trying to do it in a thoughtful way.”