Miami’s e-scooter market and manufacturer Fluidfreeride has sold more than twice as many units this month compared to last, says founder Julian Fernau. Sales are 70% higher than in March 2021, he added, and website traffic has increased by about 30% since gas prices began to pick up at the fastest pace ever earlier this month. At Bird, another manufacturer, sales have increased by 60% and website traffic has increased by 30% over the same period, according to a spokeswoman.
Interest in e-scooters and similar e-bikes, which just like the original versions are only with engines, has increased for a couple of years, as supply problems have damaged car availability and commuting habits have changed during the pandemic. That interest has recently been overcharged by pain at the pump. Some people have been thinking about buying an e-scooter for several years; others had never even gone before, but now say they want to go instead of driving to their office, grocery store or friends’ house.
Kris Mercado bought an e-scooter on Amazon after visiting a gas station last week. The 32-year-old freelance photo tutor – who does not identify as a man or woman and uses the plural pronoun and the gender-neutral Mx. – says that $ 20 once almost filled their Subaru Impreza’s 13-liter tank, but this time it barely paid for a quarter of a tank.
“I thought, ‘This is unacceptable,'” Mx Mercado said, “I could not do it anymore.”
Mx. Mercado estimated that a new Hiboy S2 scooter, which cost $ 460, would pay for itself after about five trips from their home in Newark, NJ, to his girlfriend’s apartment in Queens, NY, with an e-scooter and public transportation, compared to about $ 100 round trip cost to travel by car, after including tolls, parking and gas.
They have a disability that makes it difficult to walk from home to the train station, and say that public transport is easier when they can transport when they make transfers. They chose an e-scooter model that comes with a detachable seat and weighs 33 pounds, so they can carry it up and down the subway.
Electric scooters start at around $ 300 for a base model, but manufacturers of e-scooters and drivers say that not all are created equal. Some cheaper models may feel less stable to drive and walk only about 100 km on a single charge, says David Vosk, community manager of the review site Electric Scooter Guide. (His favorite, the $ 4,799 Nami Burn-E 2 Max, can travel 90 miles on a single charge and reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour.)
Models with dual suspensions that start at around $ 1,200 hold up better against potholes and longer trips, says Kevin Grandon, who runs Alien Rides, a company that sells and reviews these models.
“It still pays off pretty quickly if you save $ 15 to $ 20 dollars a day on gasoline,” he says, adding that sales at the company have increased by about 20% over the past month.
A scooter holds about one kilowatt of energy, which costs about 50 cents and allows you to ride the equivalent of two to three liters of gas, says Mr. Grandon. Charging from the ground usually takes five to six hours with the charger connected to a standard wall socket. Quick chargers that can charge a scooter in an hour or two are also available.
Tyler Klahn, a special computer programmer in Colorado Springs, Colorado, says he could not afford an electric vehicle, which costs about $ 56,000 on average, according to JD Power. Three years ago, he bought an e-scooter instead.
Now he owns four and almost never uses a car, and prefers to shovel even in the snow. The 32-year-old has even found fellowship through the business. Since joining the Charge Colorado Springs Facebook group last year, he has met with 15 to 20 other members every Friday night to travel around the city.
Reddit and Facebook groups dedicated to e-scooters have spread in recent months. The Electric Scooter Guide Facebook group pushed up from 1,000 members a year and a half ago to 38,000 now, says Mr. Vosk, who runs the group. There are about 12,000 posts or comments a day, with members asking about everything from help fixing a brake to the best scooter for beginners.
App-based scooter rental programs, where users pay per minute to ride, are also growing in popularity. In New York City, the daily average number of skiers has increased by almost 70% in March compared to February, says Bird.
An e-scooter helped save Alina Yakubova’s mind last summer when she learned she needed to return to commute to West Philadelphia for her work as an administrative coordinator in college.
“I was seriously considering switching to a landscaping job,” the 45-year-old said, explaining that she was burnt out from her commute.
Ms Yakubova thought she had tried all sorts of versions of the 280 km commute back and forth, from sitting through two hours of traffic from bumpers to walking an hour to the regional train station, which could take her to the city center in 20 minutes. She once even tried e-cycling the 12 miles.
In July, she discovered she could ride a bike instead of going to the regional train, fold up her $ 900 Ninebot scooter, and take it with her on the train. She is now at work within 40 minutes of leaving the house.
“You feel like that light rider with wind in your hair,” she says.
However, not everything has gone smoothly. The wind in your face is not so welcome during a Philadelphia winter. And on her third day when she tried the trip, Ms. Yakubova had so much fun watching houses whipping past that she overlooked a curb and wiped it out.
That did not stop her from coming back the next day.
“I fell, but so what?” she says.
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