Sunday, 5 August 2012

Scooting into the Future

There's no surer sign that scooters are becoming essential all over the world than the number of businesses jumping at getting into the scooter market. And there's no surer sign that those businesses believe scooters are here to stay than the innovative features, like built-in GPS, they're coming up with, and engines they're redesigning for the green market.

We're not just seeing more "super" or "hyper'' scooters that are powerful enough to cut into the motorcycle market, and more three-wheeled scooters for riders who want an even greater sense of balance. We're seeing products designed for the future like BMW's new electric scooter. This is not the electric scooter we're used to, the one that can only piddle along in bicycle lanes, confusing drivers and causing lawmakers to scratch their heads over how to licence them. No. This is a real scooter that just happens to be electrically powered. A scooter that can go up to 75 miles an hour. A real vehicle that one can keep up with urban traffic and, therefore, follow the laws of the roads. Sure you have to charge it after 62 miles but you can get around a lot of city and suburbia on that. And it's clean.

Perhaps more intriguing is a scooter coming out of China. It's a hydrogen-powered scooter that promises to be more than two times more efficient than gasoline models. We've been talking about hydrogen-powered vehicles for years in Canada. I remember doing a story a long time back on the prototype hydrogen-powered buses that came out of Ballard Power Systems of Vancouver. Ballard was working on the fuel cells; for the fuel itself we went to a company in Toronto. Everyone we met there talked of a great hydrogen future.  As I remember, the expense of the cells as well as the difficulty of creating a network of "stations" for hydrogen fuel were obstacles back then; obstacles that are still far from being overcome. It seems we're still stuck in the "demonstation" stage in Canada. Hydrogen anything seems a long way off.

In a country like China, however, with its billion plus people and its mega industrial complexes, hydrogen scooters are becoming a reality. They will cost a lot at first but with the speedy rate of Chinese production, prices are expected to drop in the next ten years which will make them an attractive option throughout Asia.

Here's a link that explains how real they are becoming:
And, here's an another interesting international story that shows countries like Great Britain are catching on to what urban dwellers in much of Asia and Africa have understood for years: small motorcyles and scooters of 125 cc are great city vehicles.

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