Going electric in Cambodia: Review of the Voltra Matrix e-Scooter

Everyone can make a difference, and when it comes to climate change, we can do our part. Cutting emissions is one way. We already sold our car, but I thought going electric is the next step. So, I bought a Voltra Matrix e-Scooter. FOR UPDATES, please scroll down.

Voltra Matrix E-Scooter from Cambodia

The price tag is $1450, cheaper than a Honda Scoppy-i, but more than most e-Scooters available in Cambodia. The scooters is advertised as “FIRST Cambodian Brand specializing in two-wheeled electric vehicles with a French design that meets High Quality Standards with Superior Guarantees” (Voltra Facebook page). They claim a reach of up to 100km with one battery charge. 

Voltra is a limited company based in Cambodia, run by Yann Vaudin, CEO and Founder of VOLTRA

What I like with the Voltra Matrix 

The design is modern, and different from other e-bikes available in Cambodia right now. It’s a proper scooter, and it looks good. Lights are very bright at night, so you can clearly see the street and potholes from far away. The seat is very comfortable to sit. A great asset is the huge space between your feet. It’s enough for a 20l water bottle or a box of beer (or two). The speed is remarkable, with setting 3 it’s almost too fast. When driving electric bikes, you don’t have the reference of the increasing motor sound. 

The Voltra Matrix comes with an alarm system. Once it’s on, the wheels are blocked and the alarm goes off, when someone touches the scooter. I had a few security guards wondering what they did wrong when they wanted to arrange it.
You have two USB-charging ports, one on the front and one under the seat. Since it’s connected to a huge battery, you have a big powerbank with you to charge a phone or connect a loudspeaker. 
E-Scooters don’t need a registration in Cambodia (yet), so there is no official ownership card or driver license needed. Hence, you don’t have a number plate as well.
The battery life is supposed to be up to 5 years, and a renewal costs $500. That is reasonable compared to maintenance costs of a regular motorbike. Also, with increasing gas prices, electricity is a bit cheaper now. 
When it comes to the environment, you definitely reduce emissions. I couldn’t find reports from the actual energy mix in Cambodia in 2021, but from earlier statistics it is mainly imported hydropower., solar and around 30 percent coal. Additionally, there is no need of transporting gasoline on ships to Cambodia and on trucks to the gas station.
You get two disc brakes front and back, what is not yet the standards for regular scooters. 
 A small detail but very useful: It has a rear gear. Good to use when you push back in a crowded parking space or when there are some obstacles.
I was told they partnered up with Forte to offer a third-party liability insurance, but no date has yet announced. But this will be a good, since Forte right now has no clue how to insure an e-scooter.

What I don’t like

The Voltra is advertised as a French design, assembled in Cambodia. The owner told me, parts are from different countries. It is, in fact, a Chinese design you can buy from the shelf and add your own parts. Voltra claims to have two years of testing and research done. While the breaking fluid container look fancy, I am concerned the plastic won’t last long.
The range is the biggest issue. There is no way you reach 100 km in real life (Setting 1, asphalt, <70kg) . Realistic is 50-60km with lower speed settings (1 and 3, few times 3). I made 75 km when I was using only setting 1, but it was boring, especially on longer stretches, like to the airport. 

Tip: when only one green bar is left, switch to mode 1 and charge the battery once you are home. I barely made 2 km after the charging light started flashing.
I only got an invoice and some spoken introduction, but no manual or anything written down. The company told me a manual is in print, but couldn’t (or didn’t want) to send me the pdf.
The alarm is quite sensitive. It goes off by the slightest touch, which can be annoying. 

What needs to be improved

I didn’t get an answer regarding software updates, and I am uncertain if Voltra actually does software development. It seems they just bought a certain version that comes with the model. That means, there is less likely an optimization or new features.
The side stand has the wrong angle, so it is easy to fall to the right side. Voltra offers a fix, but should do that already before they deliver the scooter.
The communication: I was told “We use the GOTION brand for the lithium cells which equips our battery adding a very powerful BMS for a good management of the charge and discharge of the cells as well as their short cycles. These cells are used for all new electric models from VOLKSWAGEN! “
Gotion is a Chinese battery manufacturer, and Volkswagen recently bought a 26 percent stake. They are planning to produce the new generation of Volkswagen batteries together soon. Since Volkswagen produces cars, it is unlikely the cells are the same. 
Voltra doesn’t have a website yet (really!) and the Facebook page is full of promotions (for Angkor Tiger FC), but not many facts and stories about the scooter. 
After my second battery charge I saw an improvement in speed: Before max speed in setting 1 was 34 km/h, now it’s up to 40 km/h. 
There is a metal frame underneath, I guess to protect the bottom, and it touches ground easily when the surface is not completely flat. Have to figure out why they build it this way. 

Official Specs

  • The paint is highly resistant to the Cambodian climate (according to the owner)
  • Max Speed 60 km/h
  • Capacity 60V28Ah
  • Battery Type Lithium-Ion
  • Power: 1500 Watt
  • Charging time 5 hours.
  • Motor type: DC brushless
  • Speed settings: 1 <40 km/h, 2 <50 km/h, 3 <60 km/h
  • Controller 12 pipes
  • Weight 85 kg
  • Tires 10x 3.00
  • Seat capacity 2 people
  • Colors: White, black, Grey matte and Black matte
  • Price 41450
  • Energy cost per km: 12 Riel 

Final verdict

The Voltra Matrix is a nice and good scooter for the city and an urban environment. With new roads in Siem Reap now, it is an alternative to a regular motorbike. Other than with a car, you do have to worry about the charge and range. This can be annoying. I think the future is electric, but this model is not yet at a level other companies in Europe, Japan and even China are. I wished there was more done with the software. 
UPDATE 26.12.2021After complains about the battery performance I received a test battery and finally a new battery. I was told the battery management system had a problem. So I have to test it again on Setting 1. What I recognized is that after a full charge Set 1 goes up to 40km/h hour, until the first battery bar disappears. Unfortunately, the front brake has already a problem and needs to be fixed. The cover for the battery compartment is already contorted – it still fits, but wonder if the battery compartment itself is contorted as well.