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Scooter Fuel Efficiency in Times of Rising Gas Costs

16
September

Scooters have generally been regarded as somewhat effeminate in the muscle-car and Harley loving roads and streets of America, but that image might be about to change thanks to constantly rising gas prices. While it is easy to argue that gas prices go up as well as go down, the inarguable fact of the matter is that the price per gallon has steadily increased over time in a manner that overshadows inflation. The longer one chooses to go back in history, the more obvious this fact is, and the more obvious the need for a more fuel efficient vehicle becomes for an increasingly large segment of the general population.

Scooters are innately fuel efficient primarily due to their low weight and motors that place an emphasis on efficiency and fundamentally sound mechanical designs. Generally speaking, this means that most scooters could actually be a little more fuel efficient if the companies producing them spent a little more time developing high-tech engines that were more expensive but placed more emphasis on economy. Unfortunately, high-tech engines do come with premium price tags that pay for research and development costs as well as the additional mechanical strain on the scooter itself.

The problem faced by scooter owners is simple: the balance between economic operation and performance is a perilous once. For the most part, the scooters that get jaw-dropping mileage ratings of over 100 miles per gallon tend to have tiny engines, usually in the 100cc or less range. These engines are perfectly suited for driving around town, but they lack the raw power needed to propel scooter plus owner down the highway. Scooters capable of highway performance often get far worse economy, often in the 50 to 65 mpg range.

While 50 or 60 miles per gallon might not seem very attractive compared to 100 or more miles per gallon, it is important to realize that even the lightest and most fuel efficient hybrid cars can barely must EPA economy ratings in the 40 miles per gallon range. Gas powered cars are lucky to be in 30s, especially in the city where stop and go traffic takes its toll on vehicles that weigh at least 5 to 6 times as much as a heavy freeway-capable scooters or approximately 10 times as much as scooters designed for intra-city use. A simple understanding of physics is all that is necessary to understand the concept involved: it takes more energy to move heavier objects the same distance and/or accelerate them to the same speed. Lighter scooters simply hold an edge over cars and even heavier scooters.

Burning less fuel is not only advantageous in terms of fuel consumption and budgeting, but also in terms of the environment. While naysayers would point out that the emissions per vehicle pound or output metric favor larger engines found in lighter cars, the truth is that scooters are far greener on a per-vehicle basis. While it might not be wise for seven people carpooling in a van to drive seven different scooters, the fuel consumption and emissions might be comparable. Five people riding in a fuel-efficient hybrid versus five people driving scooters might not prove to be quite so beneficial in terms of fuel consumption and emissions. Of course, the situation would be quite different if the same scenarios were to evaluate those sharing rides on fuel-efficient scooters.

The future is bright for scooters, especially as political and economic forces continue to conspire to make fuel more expensive. As this trend seems to have no end in sight, it would appear that the value of scooters purchases today will actually increase over time. This is likely to reverse the slightly derogatory view that many Americans hold of scooters, especially as harsh economic conditions continue to teach basic lessons in economic pragmatism. In a world where waste is no longer considered to be trendy, the fuel efficient scooter might very well become the next ‘cool’ mode of transportation.

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