July 18, 2008

U.S. Scooter Sales Take Off on $4 Gas

A spike in gasoline prices in the United States has prompted a run on scooters that boast mileage as high as 60 to 100 miles per gallon, industry analysts said.

When gas got up around $4, the scooters started disappearing. The Honda warehouses nationwide are empty, Honda salesman Dave Mungenast told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Mike Mount, a spokesman for the Motorcycle Industry Council, said 15,000 scooters were sold in the country in 1998. Last year, he estimated sales jumped to 131,000.

Sales seem to be directly related to rising gas prices, the newspaper reported. Scooter sales were up 24 percent in the first quarter of 2008, when gas was closer to $3 per gallon than $4.

Sales have escalated since, dealers say. Vernon Carver, owner of Moto Italia in Edwardsville, Mo., told the Post-Dispatch sales at his shop this year have already surpassed total sales for 2007.

Vespa St. Louis owner Steve Zompa said his business sold 200 scooters a year since 2004. But, we've been selling them at a pace of about one a day since April, he said.