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Electric Scooter

Get information about different types of electric scooters.

Scooters are an exciting and economic means of conveyance. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Scooters are an exciting and economic means of conveyance.

Electric scooters provide a green alternative to many other forms of transportation. They are great options for short distance traveling because they don't use expensive gas and they cost a fraction of a car or SUV. Whether consumers are searching for a way to help the environment or save money, an electric scooter may be the way to go.

Mopeds, Motorized Scooters and Electric Scooters

Like mopeds, electric scooters are two-wheeled, battery-powered and low-speed personal vehicles. Although mopeds and electric scooters may look alike, there are a few key differences. While a moped engine is installable on a bicycle, electric scooters stand alone. Mopeds are gas-powered, while electric scooters are completely battery-operated; therefore, mopeds tend to be quite noisy compared to the silence of an electric scooter. Moped engines may not exceed 50 cubic centimeters (CCs), or 130 CCs if it includes pedals. Mopeds require a driver's license for operation while electric scooters do not.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, motorized scooters usually resemble the foot-powered child's toy, with two small wheels, handlebars and a board on which to stand. Some are equipped with a bicycle-type seat. These scooters are not road-safe and therefore aren't legally allowed on the streets.

The History of Scooters

The first well documented commercial motor scooter was the 1894 Hildebrand & Wolfmueller with a twin-cylinder water-cooled engine. It wasn't until 50 years later that the modern motor scooter came into being. Following World War II, the Italian government subsidized vehicle production, and Ferdinado Innocenti produced the first Vespa in 1946. This precursor to today's sleek machines reached a maximum speed of 47 mph. A year later, Vespa's gas-efficient Lambretta model premiered at the Paris Motor Show. At 160 miles to the gallon, the Lambretta achieved great success in European countries where gas was being rationed.

Moped vs. Electric Scooter

Electric scooters have their advantages:

  • No gas bills - ever.
  • No emissions.
  • No license required.*
  • No insurance required.*
  • No registration required.*
  • Low cost.

On the other hand, there are disadvantages to the electric scooter that a moped or motor scooter doesn't have:

  • The electric scooter has a limited range before its battery must be recharged; generally, between 25 and 50 miles.
  • The time it takes to recharge the battery is typically four to six hours.
  • Electric scooters tend to be fairly slow, with the low-end models topping out at 25 mph and the high-end versions reaching 60 mph.

*When motors are under 750 watts.

Electric Scooters

Before selecting which electric scooter is right, consumers should shop around and consider the scooter's range, speed and cost. The following are a few models to give a general idea of scooter price range and performance.

Electric scooters range in price from under $1,000 for the IKOO Electric Scooter, which tops out at 18 mph and has a range of 15 to 18 miles, to upwards of $9,000 for the Vectrix Electric Scooter, with a max speed of 60 mph and a range of 68 miles. Falling somewhere in the middle are the eGo Electric Scooter ($1,400 to $2,000; max speed 23 mph, range 20 to 25 miles), the Zapino Electric Scooter ($3,000; max speed 30 mph, range 30 miles) and the EVT America R20 Scooter ($2,500; max speed 45 mph; range 30 to 45 miles).

Electric Scooter Caution

Not all electric scooters are "street-ready." Riders should be sure to check with their state's Departments of Motor Vehicles for ordinances governing the use of electric scooters. They should also verify the scooter's compliance before purchase.

Some other alternatives to gas-guzzling vehicles include electric bicycles, tricycles and pocket bikes.

Electric Bicycles and Tricycles

These vehicles are motor-driven and are often quite similar to electric scooters. The main difference is that they have pedals. Any vehicle with pedals is classified as an electric bike, meaning a driver's license is not required. X-Treme Scooters manufactures several types of electric bicycles, including the XB-500 ($725; max speed 20 mph; max range 25 miles) and the XB-600 ($975; max speed 20 mph; max range 25 miles). Other makers of electric bikes include eGo, IZIP, Prima Power Bikes and Urban Mover Bikes. The advantage to an electric bicycle is that if it runs out of power, it can still transport its rider by pedal-driven power.

Also included in this category are electric tricycles, for the balance-impaired or those seeking a different style. The BoomerBents Raptor reaches top speeds of 15 mph, has a range of 20 to 40 miles, depending on the battery pack, and costs between $3,500 and $6,000.

Pocket Bikes

Designed to look like motorcycles, pocket bikes are a much cheaper, fuel-efficient option. The low-end XP 700 Watt Electric Pocket Bike costs about $275 and can travel at speeds up to 20 mph. At $575, the Kikker Bonesaw XP Mini Chopper reaches speeds of over 35 mph and features a two-stroke engine.

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