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Survey: 30% of Americans Would Consider Using a Motor Scooter

The just-introduced Piaggio MP3—a three-wheeled scooter with dual front wheels. 54 mpg US and Euro-3 level emissions.

A new national survey found that 30% of consumers in the current climate of rising gas prices would be extremely or somewhat likely to consider using a motor scooter for their everyday transportation needs.

According to the survey—fielded by ICR on behalf of the Piaggio Group Americas, the manufacturer of Vespas and other two-wheelers—these individuals indicted a willingness to transfer 35% of their weekly mileage to a scooter.

Scooters were defined in the survey as two-wheel vehicles that can reach 40-100 mph, and the average cost of which is $2,000 or above.

The survey found other strong factors motivating consumer’s willingness to consider utilizing a scooter, including environmental concerns and overall cost savings. The survey found that 33% of Americans would be likely to use a scooter to reduce emission harmful to the environment, 35% would be likely to use a scooter to save $25.00 a week on gasoline.

While fuel consumption would drop compared to the majority of cars on the road, emissions are a different issue. EPA studies show that gasoline-powered motorcycles and scooters emit much higher levels of emissions than cars. A motorcycle can emit as much hydrocarbon in 10 miles as a car driven 850 miles.

Nor are the regulations as stringent (although they are tightening). Current EPA regulations for 2006 MY Class I motorcycles stipulate HC emission limits of 1 g/km and 12 g/km of CO. By contrast, the EPA Tier 2 Bin 5 regulations for passenger cars mandate 0.0093 g/km HCHO (0.015 g/mi) and 2.11 g/km CO (3.4 g/mi).




what percent of americans currently do?

you certainly don't see them in traffic. not in Seattle, anyway.

"would consider" is a long way from "willing to accept risk, ridicule, weather exposure, potentially deafening noise (from wind, not engine) and get motorcycle license" for $25/wk in fuel costs.

i've done that for a motorcyle and may again someday, but motorcycles are hot and hella fast. scooters, not so much.

i think 30% is a gross overestimate of any future american fleet. 3-5% is probably closer.


They may not be in Seattle, but I see at least three of them every day. Not only that, but I see four or five people biking to work, and a few others walking, including myself. Maybe it's because the weather's nicer in Lancaster, PA. Or because it's a smaller city.

I'd love to buy a scooter, but I don't know about the extra insurance costs or how hard it is to get a motorcycle license. (Which you need if it's over 50cc.) It would let me move faster and farther than a bike, but at considerable expense.


three of them per day. how many cars do you see per day? if your answer is 10 or less, then piaggio has a good point.

why bother getting a scooter?

motorcycles are easier to buy used, cheaper, and more fuel efficient. they use wet clutches that are virtually impossible to damage and they are only very slightly more complicated to ride than a similarly sized scooter.

i'm sure you can find a ninja 250 or 500. both very fuel efficient, both produced with few changes for more than 10 yrs, both highway capable. obviously, you'd want a 500 or larger if you were going to spend a lot of time on the freeway. but, if you were going to spend a lot of time on the freeway, i'd suggest a car. motorcycles are kind of unpleasant on freeways.


I hardly ever drive on the highway. And 80% of my trips are less than a mile from my house.

I did look into motorcycles, but insurance costs for a 24 year old male are a lot higher than for a scooter. I've also had a hard time finding one that's not extremely loud and looks comfortable to ride.


I hope to get a lectric scooter..does about 40MPH



I see about 1 scooter a day, in my coastal Orange County (CA) travels. There were always some here, for parking convenience, and as a 'beach thing.' I think more are out on the roads now though.

I've got to admit that sometimes when I see them I think, "man - I wouldn't take a scooter on this road, I'd use back streets."

Joseph Willemssen

There's a lot of great scooters out there, but the first hurdle (at least in the US) is DOT certification. I've looked into bringing these over:


but it doesn't seem possible (or prohibitively expensive) under current regs. Then I'd also wonder what could be done to modify the emissions systems to clean them up to standards at least as stringent as those for autos.

Covered w/wiper, 3 wheels, large trunk, 100 mpg -- it's perfect for urban uses.


For what it's worth, I think the Bajaj Chetak, gets the best street legal mileage (110 mpg) in the US:


Is it the only 4 cycle manual-tranny scooter out there right now?



watch out for the claims on most of the electric scooters. if it doesn't have at least 1.5 kW, it will be a real dog.

some of the ones on ebay have 700 W motors. these would be fine at 20 mph on a level surface. maybe 25 mph if you weigh 75lbs, overinflate the tires, and crouch down out of the airstream to reduce drag.

their range claims tend to be optimistic bordering on lies. might be worth swapping the batts out for some of those cool Lithiums from Valence that are made in the same sizes as lead-acids.


motorcycles are pointless for short trips, since you have to wait 5 min for them to warm up if they sit more than a few hours between trips.


I'm riding my Honda Reflex to work today. I've seen quite a few scooters around San Diego lately. Vespas, Suzukis, a few other Hondas. The climate here is perfect for them.


The cheapest motor scooter I can find is about $1699. That's easily $900 more than a really great commuter bicycle. Since I'm only going short distances, with plenty of back alleys to cut down and sidestreets to use, I would probably be better off getting one of those.

Not that scooters aren't a great idea for a lot of people, especially if you live in a place like San Diego where the weather is perfect for it, or if you've got to go more than a few miles to get places.


I've owned a Honda Elite 150 scooter, 250 scooter, and now own a Kwawsaki Volcan motorcycle. The honda's got around 65 mpg, and my morocyle get around 45. I've been riding it to work and back aroun 30-40miles per day. My SUV gets a third of the mpg as the Kawasaki (I'm looking to get ride of it ASAP). All are easy to ride. Safety is a concern if it can't do the speed limit. Always drive defensively on a motorbike. Allow for car drivers space in case they don't see you, and don't drive fast. That's how you get in trouble. But the scooters otherwise are very safe and fast. Scooters are also priced better than used motorcyles, Plus a new scooter has a warrantee. As far as speed is concerned, I could take ANY car off the line and not worry about falling behind. I've read that scooter sales are up 5 or 6 fold since a couple of years ago, so the survey seams to be right on target.
I have also noticed that around the FL area, there seem to be a lot more 'riders' lately. And why not, if everybody would ride, we would have less traffic congestion, and we really would put a dent on the oil addiction, and quickly.


"motorcycles are pointless for short trips, since you have to wait 5 min for them to warm up if they sit more than a few hours between trips"
Shoun, you must have a really old motorcyle, or you need to have someone look at it and give it a tune up or rebuild your carb. My motorcycle drives right off, and can do just about any errand, short or long! Maybe motorcylces ARE NOT for YOU! Stop bashing them!

fyi CO2

That's a ridiculous amount of emissions for transportation with little utility (storage) and safety.


Icelander, I also walk/bike for short trips, and drive a car for longer ones. I like scooters, but for now walk/bike works.

fyi CO2, I live in California where everything new is 4 cycle and with increasing emissions regulations - the gap is closing.


What percentage of Americans live in a climate conducive to year-round scooter riding? (i.e. Not those who have an extended period of winter snow and ice issues.)

Sid Hoffman

So they put out 85 times as much polution as the average car, and about 500 times as much polution per mile as a clean car like a Prius or new Civic Hybrid. How can anyone call themselves green and drive a vehicle the puts out 85 times as much polution as, say, a supercharged Mustang Cobra? That's ridiculous, scooters and motorcycles should be banned in favor of Kai-class cars that get similar fuel economy but are dramatically cleaner and safer than scooters.


Sid, are your numbers based on modern (CA legal) 4 cycle scooters?

Eric S. Johansson


We used the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Transportation and Air Quality Emission Facts, dated April 2000, to compare the 150cc 4 stroke engine in the Bajaj scooter against average emissions and fuel consumption for passenger cars and light trucks.

Since we did not use the exact same method of data collection and averaging as the EPA, there might be slight errors in this comparison. Our data for the Legend/Chetak engine was generated by performing the EPA city driving test cycle, it's this test data that was used to demonstrate compliance with EPA and CARB standards.

as for usability in boston area, I figured about 130ish rideable days per year. I'm going for one as a 50th bday mid life crises. :-)

scooters are fun!

Sid Hoffman

Odograph, the 85 times figure is based on the greencarcongress article above that says they put out as much emissions (other than CO2) in 10 miles as the limit for a car in 850 miles.


Sid: What is a "Kai-class" car anyway? Would I be able to buy one for the same cost as a scooter? Probably not, since they would be subject to the same safety regulations as cars.

Numbers provided by the UN:
Powered two wheelers per 1000 population:
Germany, UK, India, China:50
Italy, Japan:150

Matthew Parrish

I just drove my scooter to work today. It's a Kymco People 150, and it's much more fun than driving the car. I also have three other friends who own scooters, so I see 3 scooters on the road quite often! :)

I haven't driven far enough yet, but I should get 70-80 MPG and my first fill-up was $3.39, and that was with premium gas. So far, I'm very happy with the purchase.


Matt: I saw a Kymco People 150 yesterday on my way home. They're nice looking machines. I think they look better than the Vespa and Vespaclones from other companies. I'll keep posted on your blog to see how it holds up.


I frequently visit Santa Barbara and lately I've seen a lot of scooters on the [city] streets. The local Vespa dealer told me that his business is booming and that he has a huge backlog of orders. [Vespa is the ultimate scooter]. There's a new superfast electric scooter form Italy called Vectrix... It is amazing!!
Lithium-Ion batteries and a lot of speed...and range!

Check it out at vectrixusa.com


Sid Hoffman

Cervus, Kei cars are the smallest of microcars, often 2-seats, but sometimes 4-seats, powered by highly fuel efficient engines not to exceed 64 horsepower or 660cc in displacement.


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