Saturday, May 19, 2018

Kicking the gas engine scooters while they're down

Interesting article on Electrek, with small gas-engine scooter sales in Europe plunging:

New figures report that sales of gas-powered scooters and motorcycles dropped by 6.1% in the first quarter of 2018, as compared to the same period in 2017. The largest decline in sales has been attributed to smaller scooters and mopeds below 50cc.

Sales of scooters and mopeds under 50cc have dropped by 40.2% over the same period. In France, which is the largest moped market in Europe, sales dropped even further by 41.5%.

Electric scooters and motorcycles sales are rising rapidly but only account for about a quarter of the equivalent gas engine sales, so they're only part of the picture. The rest of the picture:

Electric bikes aren't registered so they don't have the same level of recent data, but their range, speed, convenience, and cost are eating into the small scooter market. (Side note: I can speak to this personally, the Ford GoBike program I use now has electric bikes and they make my commute even easier.)

So good news if not exactly the biggest news in the world, but is there a policy implication? Yep - the market is proving that right now that there are great substitutes for small gas engine scooters, so ban the sales of new ones. If that's too dirigiste for some, then ban the gas engines that don't pay for an equivalent amount of lifetime operational carbon emissions, or just require a hefty fee of the ones that don't - it'll have the same effect.

One might argue the effect, regardless, is zero because the market is probably going to eliminate these scooters within several years. My response is that probably doesn't mean certainly, and cutting off a long tail of dwindling sales is a good thing. Even more important though is the cultural and political precedent showing that gas engine vehicles are on their way out, and we're going to give them an additional push in that direction.

While these things barely exist in the US, maybe the mostly-dreaming legislative bills here in California to eventually ban gas-engine cars could take a baby step for now by banning these scooters.


  1. > the market is proving that... so ban

    Oh good grief. If the market is proving it, fine, let it, there's no need to "ban" anything. Why are you so ready to adopt pointless state control when it isn't, by your own arguments, even needed?

  2. > Why are you so ready to adopt pointless state control when it isn't, by your own arguments, even needed?

    Oh good grief. Did you stop reading after the lede? There was a whole paragraph explaining why.

  3. A ban is probably too simple and doesn't accomplish much other than feeling like you've done something.

    When it comes to GHG emissions, each gasoline-fueled scooter is still far superior to a gasoline- or diesel-fueled car. So, by banning gasoline-fueled scooters, all you do is displace those GHGs from the scooter market, when you might have a much bigger drop in GHGs if you get people out of passenger vehicles and onto scooters, whether they're electric or not.

  4. Scooters are generally not considered alternatives to cars.

    It also saves more GHGs getting people to exchange cars for public transport than to switch to a scooter.

    I think the problem is more that you may reduce mobility of those people who cannot use a bike for physical reasons.

  5. Unknown - I expected we'd hear that argument that gas-scooter-riding people would use cars instead of electric bikes and scooters. I highly doubt it, given how effectively they're being replaced.

    FWIW, I think the main value in Europe is cultural and political precedent for placing additional policy pressure to get people to stop using gas engines in general.

    The parallel I'm most familiar with here in the US is replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFLs and LEDs. Lots of squalling about it for a while, but that squalling is over now and we're all better off.

  6. Much as I enjoy reading by the warm light of my 1.5 kilowatt toaster I'd love to replace the fused quartz globars with a pair of half kilowatt LEDS.

    Why hasn't Governor Brown mandated their development ?

  7. Eli, or any other with a blog and the initiative, you may want to have a go at this:

    Her five year prediction came due this year, and sadly, she was wrong:

    "JC’s ‘forecast’ for the next 5 years: It looks like the AMO may have peaked, and we remain in the cool phase of the PDO with a predominance of La Nina events expected (unlikely to see a return to do El Nino dominance in the next decade). I predict we will see continuation of the ‘standstill’ in global average temperature for the next decade, with solar playing a role in this as well."

  8. Russell, Head to your favorite garden store.

  9. Thanks, Eli !
    Relying as I do on solar powered gardens & trees I had quite forgot some folks prefer to grow them in the dark..

    However, on looking at what's on offer from Cree , long a leader in high power solid state lighting, I see that all the half kilowatt lights are arrays of ten or at most 25 watt LED's

    Just as well, as a half kilowatt tactical flashlight or sccoter headlight might well violate the Geneva convention.

  10. I did notice my neighbour bought a new BMW motorcycle.


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