Sunday, March 13, 2011

High Gas Prices May Drive Scooter Purchases, but...

If gas prices stay high, we may experience another scooter buying frenzy like we did in 2008, although the economy may temper the hysteria a bit. TV news crews, local reporters and radio hosts may swarm local dealers for a few sound bites about exceptional gas mileage (100mpg?!?) but once they close their reporter notebooks and pack up the lighting rigs, they will likely have overlooked the total picture of the costs of buying a scooter.

I touched on this in blog posts that I wrote in 2008:
Is Money the Only Reason to Ride a Scooter
$4 Gas is Waking Up America

Truthfully, $4 gas prices suck, but only someone who already owns a scooter will be laughing as s/he passes up the pump. If you park your Prius, but a brand new Vespa and expect to see the money pile up in your bank account, you will be in for a surprise. If you drive an old V8 truck from the 70s 20 miles roundtrip to work each day, and decided to dig your old P200 out of the garage, give it a tune-up and do the commute on the scoot while parking the truck, you're in for a pleasant surprise. Most people are somewhere in between and will need to really crunch the numbers to see if buying a new scooter makes financial sense.

There are lots of other considerations: insurance, scooter maintenance, and how often one will actually forgo the car for the scooter.

Costs to conisder:
  • Purchase price
  • Interest if financing the purchase
  • Scheduled maintenance (differs from cars)
  • Wear & Tear (some scooters require new tires every 2K miles)
  • Insurance (make sure your policy includes uninsured motorist)
  • Riding gear (clothing, helmet, gloves, rain gear etc)
  • Security (locks, parking)
  • Oil (if you are running a 2-stroke, you have to account for the cost of 2T oil)

I realize that I may sound like a negative nan, raining on the "higher gas = buy a scooter" parade, but I want to get above the rote sound bites that the media may be offering now.  Scooters are seriously great fun to ride, but I consider the fuel economy to be a bonus. Already having a scooter (65mpg) in my garage that I bought 14 years ago makes the gas savings apparent when I choose it over my Mini (39mpg), but if I went out today and bought a new $3k scooter, I think it would take me a few years to realize savings.

Benefits above $$ to consider:
  • Riding a scooter is fun!
  • Better parking (scooters fit in smaller places; I park closer to my destination with a scooter)
  • Taking up less space than a car (on the road, in the garage, in my life)
  • Splitting lanes in California *only* (I like being able to move to the front of a long line of cars at a stoplight. I don't splits lanes when traffic is moving)
Whatever the gas pump says, it's a good time to scoot.

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