Friday, September 02, 2005

Buying an electric scooter

I have a friend who filled up his gas tank yesterday. Because of the supply disruptions caused by Hurricane Katrina, he paid $3.20 a gallon and it ended up costing about $60. His reaction to that was, "I'm not going to take it anymore!"

What he decided to do is interesting. He decided to go to Pep Boys and buy an Electric Scooter. Since I have a truck, I helped him out by driving him down to pick it up.

This scooter is fascinating. It is made in China, and with a rebate it is currently priced at $299. I had a moped in college, and this scooter is exactly like the moped. It has a 750 watt (about 1 HP) motor that gives it a top speed on level ground of 30 MPH. It has a four 12-volt batteries that give it a range of about 25 miles. It has everything you would expect it to have from a moped standpoint -- head light and tail light, turn signals, horn, rear view mirrors, storage under the seat, etc.

It has two things that you do not get with a moped. First, it is completely silent. It's almost spooky how quiet it is. Going 30 MPH with zero noise is a new experience. It's a lot of fun to ride it. Second, it costs basically zero to operate. Perhaps a penny per mile. With gas at $3.20 a gallon, his car is costing 16 cents a mile just for the gas.

His wife sent him to the grocery store last night for a gallon of milk. The store is two miles away. He found that taking the scooter was quicker than driving because you can park the scooter right next to the store's door, walk in, walk out and you are done.

Here's the funny thing about this scooter. By the time you add in tires, oil changes, gasoline and per-mile depreciation on the car, the average car costs about 30 cents a mile to operate. That means that if he uses this scooter for 1,000 miles, the scooter is free.

Obviously he won't be riding a scooter like this in the winter when it is 20 degrees F outside. He won't be riding it in the rain. He won't use it for any journey longer than about 15 miles round trip. But his office is only 6 miles away so he can ride the scooter to work on nice days. He can use it to go to the store and so on. Let's say it takes him a year to put 2,000 miles on the scooter. And let's say that at the end of the year he throws the scooter away, so he has zero maintenance costs. He has saved 100 gallons of gasoline and he has put $280 in his pocket compared to the cost of driving his car (2,000 miles would cost $600 in the car, while the scooter cost $299 and he spent $20 on electricity for it).

There are 235 million cars in America -- about 1 for every adult. If 235 million people bought a scooter and used it 2,000 miles per year, it would save the nation about 1.25 million barrels of oil per day. That is nearly equivalent to all the oil pumped out of the Gulf of Mexico every day. And the nation would save $280 * 235,000,000 = $65 billion.

See also Cheap electric cars from China.

Comments:
Sounds great, but I'd like to know a great deal more about safety, driving laws, and most of all, how to park. Sadly, car parking spaces are much more common than bike racks, bike trails are rare, etc. Sounds to me like it would be fabulous in some city which made serious efforts to make it practical, or in a town with a low crime rate, but not in most cities in the US.
 
Other points

- Is the electricity generated mainly using natural gas? Likely up to 40% of it is.
- 1.25 million barrels per day is only a 5% decrease. As one of these peak oil people, I'm afraid to say that oil will deplete (conventional stuff that is) by 2-3% per year, so within a couple of years, even with 220 million people using scooters 2000 miles per year, you would still be back to square one after only 2 years. That's quite scary.

Mark
 
Having said that, I'm buying a scooter fairly soon anyway to save on the pennies - being economic is very gratifying!

Mark
 
Little scooters have been a major transportation option in most of the world for years, maybe forever. Put enough on the streets and we will soon look China. Not a problem for me! They are adding cars, we are taking them away. Who would have thought???

Even cheaper and usable by almost anyone is a bicycle. A rack with 2 baskets can carry 2 full grocery bags. Add a trailer and you can carry 6 more grocery bags. The added benefit is exercise.

Just my 2 cents. (where is that cent symbol key?)
 
Mark, or other Peak Oil believers, surely you have heard by now about the much publicized $5000 bet over future oil prices from the NY times. Would you care to make a similar bet?
 
I'm also curious about driving laws for scooters.

In North Carolina do you need a special license to drive a scooter on the roadways, or will a normal drivers license do?
 
In fairness though, whats wrong with $3.20 a gallon???? $60 to fill the tank of a truck isnt too bad. Thats £32 to me. I pay £35 ($64) to fill the tank of my 1994 astra every week.
 
Hi michael,

I wouldn't bet a reduced price, but I believe Matthew Simmons, who has made a name for himself and his company through the bet, said $200/barrel oil. I don't agree with this, I think it will reach a price less than that and continue to shock on the way down due to convulsing demand.

And I'd put my $5000 in oil contracts :).

Mark
 
In NC if you have a moped (<= 50 cc engine , <= 30 mph ) all you need is to:
1) be 16 years old
2) wear a helmet
3) do your best to stay to the right and let traffic pass by
 
I am currently looking for a low-powered scooter (to keep me out of trouble), but want one which is still quick enough to be safe in traffic.

30 MPH is too slow for where I live. The Aprilia Scarabeo 50 is the only fuel-injected 50cc scooter, therefore it is the quickest AND most efficient 50cc in the world.

122 MPG and 50+ MPH. It is also more expensive than the standard, smaller scooters.
 
That Aprilia scooter looks pretty spiffy. I like the bigger wheels and the low power yet relatively high speed.

Too bad there is only about 5 months of decent riding weather up here.
 
Nice!

After people don't buy gas, it mights even go higher! Who know.

There will be alternative. We will find alternative.

We also do not realize how much per day something cost. Because it is not thing we pay per day. Like the car, like our shoes, like the t-shirt you pay high price and wear 3-4 times a year. If you were to rent those per day at their real price, you may end up thinking you pay too much. But when you buy it, you don't do those calculation. At less that is what I notice more and more.
 
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Cool Blog, I never really thought about it that way.

I have a Hurricane Katrina blog. It pretty much covers hurricane related stuff.

Thank you - and keep up the thoughts!
 
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If you find this blog interesting, check out this. We have all sorts of great info.

Gas, electric, scooters, mopeds, skateboards, pocketbikes, helmets, protective gear.

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Whatever you do, DON'T buy an electric bike or anything else from a company called Q-Electric. They sell over the web, through a parent company called AIYA. The parent company returns your calls, but Q-Electric has terrible customer service. They sent me a junky, plastic, Barbie-toy bike (for $799 including shipping). It came with many damaged, missing and broken parts. They were uncooperative when I complained and asked to return the bike, and the issue is still not settled. The bike is called a Red Gelato, and is very cute and appealing, but really a piece of junk.
 
Anonymous said...

Whatever you do, DON'T buy an electric bike or anything else from a company called Q-Electric. They sell over the web, through a parent company called AIYA. The parent company returns your calls, but Q-Electric has terrible customer service. They sent me a junky, plastic, Barbie-toy bike (for $799 including shipping). It came with many damaged, missing and broken parts. They were uncooperative when I complained and asked to return the bike, and the issue is still not settled. The bike is called a Red Gelato, and is very cute and appealing, but really a piece of junk.
 
Really enjoyed your Blog and article on the electric scooter. I agree with what you said about not having to park a scooter like a regular car. Much easier and a very cheap mode of transportation. Great Blog!
http://www.electricbikesnscooters.com/Blog/
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
Electric scooters may be acological solution for nation also.
If people only used scooters it would result in less to none road/pedestrian accidents.
I wonder if in future Solar Scooters will be made.
This would be ideal solution to save energy and scooter's accumulator :)

Electric Scooters
 
Thanks for this article. But there are also electric scooters for kids. Perhaps you can give one to your child.
 
Electric Bicycles and Electric Scooters

Elmo The Electric Bike and Electric Scooter Guy

This is an excellent blog for electric bicycles. There are not too many around like this. Thanks for making this such an interesting subject. Oh, by the way, Wired Magazine has a great article on hybrid cars this month. (Jan 2008 issue).

God Bless,
Elmo
 
Don't let the big gas companies fool you. They are planning to jerk prices way up again. Get an electric bike and ride the hell out of it.

What's Elmo the Electric Bikes N Scooters Guy
 
I found an interesting electric bike site. They really have it all. Check them out!
 
wow, nice article,thanks mate!
 
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KLD Energy Technologies Inc. just announced a new electric scooter available with their motor technology that I've heard is one of a kind.

It was designed to be affordable but also outperform other electric scooter models. Looks really neat! I kind of want to get one :)

Here's the press release from business wire.
http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20090625005793&newsLang=en
 
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I have a lot of info for anyone interested in an electric bicycle - Australian site but relevant anywhere - www.value-e-bikes.com.au/Guide to buying electric bicycle.htm
 
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In my opinion electric scooters are one of the best solutions to the growing problem of global warming and air pollution. In recent days, every one looking for cheap electric scooters and these are perfect transport for any short trip within the city.
 
There are a couple of things to consider when purchasing an electric bike. Don't get too caught up in purchasing one just because it is trendy, always look at it from a perspective of two key factors. One of them is charging time and the other is distance traveled on a charge. If you can go farther on less of a charge, then your frustration level will be a lot less.

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Like all alternative forms of transport you never really know if they are legal or where you can use them. You really have to do your homework before getting one to make sure that it is legal to use in a public place or you could end up with a white elephant.
 
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Little scooters have been a major transportation option in most of the world for years, maybe forever. Put enough on the streets and we will soon look China. Not a problem for me! They are adding cars, we are taking them away. Who would have thought???

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Sounds great, but I'd like to know a great deal more about safety, driving laws, and most of all, how to park. Sadly, car parking spaces are much more common than bike racks, bike trails are rare, etc. Sounds to me like it would be fabulous in some city which made serious efforts to make it practical, or in a town with a low crime rate, but not in most cities in the US.
 
Scooters have advantages such as clean and efficient form of transportation over the gas gulping car.
 
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