Americans, who are trying to find ways to save money on gas, are converting to a long-standing mode of transportation used in Europe: Mopeds. Sales of scooters in the U.S. have increased more than 60 percent this year, as people look for ways to adapt to high fuel prices.
Americans have always chosen their mode of transportation on the basis of style, and how it reflects their personalities. Tough guys ride Harleys, white-collar executives drive BMWs, and families stick to minivans. Typically, not too many motorists have made their decision out of a conscious decision to save gas. However, as oil prices have spiked to $100 a barrel, that line of thinking has started to change.
Mopeds are defined as a class of low-powered motorized vehicles, including scooters, which have automatic transmissions, step-through design, and bodies that conceal engines. Its low-power engine and ease of use makes it extremely attractive to commuters who are reluctant to handle a big motorcycle, but are eager to enjoy big savings on gas.
High gas prices, higher sales
Scooter sales have jumped 60 percent this year, a direct correlation to prices at the pump. No wonder we're starting to emulate the transportation choices of Europe, where higher fuel costs and the scooter have been staples for decades.
The rising gas prices in America haven't had a similar effect on motorcycle sales here. While bikes get between 40 and 60 miles per gallon, a scooter will get between 60 and 100 miles per gallon. The gas mileage differential has hurt motorcycle manufacturers like Harley Davidson, which has actually experienced a drop in sales. But gas prices alone can't explain their increased inventories
Dragging economy, value-packed scooter
Motorcycle sales figures reflect the slumping economy, as do lower-priced scooters, in the $2,000 to $3,000 range, which are enjoying the highest sales spike. There are more expensive scooter models, which can cost as much as $8,000, but they're not feeling the same surge as the more modestly-priced counterparts.
The people who are buying scooters aren't the ones who'd ordinarily not think twice about plunking down 20,000 for a Harley Davidson in good economic times. The new scooter buyer, who'd normally commute to and from work in his car, is opting for a less costly commute.
More Americans are commuting to work and school via the moped, demonstrating that two wheels are cheaper than four. Gone are the ego-driven decisions of hauling around a gas-guzzling SUV. Commuters are now stretching their pennies as far as they can, and with the low cost of a moped, they can generally recoup their investment rather quickly.
Transportation choices were once based on style, but now, tough economic times are forcing commuters to think differently. Scooters and mopeds are becoming the transit mode of choice. With an inexpensive purchase price and low operational cost, scooters are breaking up America's love affair with the automobile.