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Scooter business sees sales driven by high gas prices


Originally printed in the Pasadena Star News
By Kevin Smith, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 09/13/2008 10:29:29 PM PDT

PASADENA - David Carlos used to drive eight miles through heavy traffic congestion to get to work each day.

And when he did, the 23-year-old Long Beach resident would often look longingly at the serene river trail that paralleled his freeway route, wishing he could take that way instead.

These days, that's what he does.

Two months ago, Carlos bought an electric scooter from UrbanScooters.com in South Pasadena. And his stress level has gone down - exponentially.

"Gas prices were a big part of it," he said. "And this is a lot more fun. Now I look over at the freeway and thank God I'm not on it."

UrbanScooters sells electric and gas-powered scooters, electric bicycles, push scooters, pocket bikes and a variety of parts and accessories.

Owner Frank Minero said electric scooters have become particularly popular as commuters try to save money on transportation.

"That's the interesting thing," he said. "We started off selling primarily to kids. But over the past few years - and even more so recently - there's been a switch to adults buying them for themselves for the commute as an alternative to getting to work."

Minero said customers have also become more environmentally conscious about air pollution from standard gas-powered vehicles.

"They're doing this because of gas prices - and because they want to reduce their carbon footprint," he said.

UrbanScooters' two main brands are Go-Ped and X-Treme.

The X-Treme models range from as little as $119.95 for the X-10 Mini Electric Scooter, to $1,199.95 for the X-Treme XB-600 Electric Bike.

Go-Ped's ESR 750H Hoverboard electric scooter goes for $1,230.88.

That model weighs 62 pounds and can go 12 mph in the "economy" mode and 20 mph in "turbo" mode.

The scooter is powered by four 24-volt, sealed lead-acid batteries and can carry up to 400 pounds, according to the manufacturer's specs.

"Roughly, it takes about four hours to charge," Minero said. "Some people will drive them to the Gold Line station and then take the train the rest of the way to work."

Laws regarding the use of electric scooters are still being formulated, he said.

"To operate one in California you have to be 16 or older and have a driver's license," he said. "But the laws vary from state to state."

UrbanScooters will soon be selling electric bike kits as well. The kits can be attached to any bicycle to give the rider an electric "power assist."

"A good kit will run $500 to $1,000, but they pay for themselves pretty quickly because you're saving on gas," Minero said. "The electric motor is built into the hub of the real wheel and you have batteries in your rear saddle bags."

With gasoline prices still well above year-ago levels, more and more commuters are opting to buy, Minero said.

On Friday, the average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded gas in the Los Angeles/Long Beach area was $3.77 per gallon, up nearly a dollar from $2.84 a year earlier, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

kevin.smith@sgvn.com
(626) 962-8811, Ext. 2701

(Reprinted here with permission.)

 
     
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