30 mph Eco glide, $1399.99 biggest rip off ever!

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30 mph Eco glide, $1399.99 biggest rip off ever!

Postby Micronaut » Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:14 pm

New buzz
Electric scooters are economical and ecological.
By JOHN GITTELSOHN
http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/mo ... 351115.php

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
If every journey begins with a first step, the first step in Jim Letzel's latest enterprise was noticing swarms of electric scooters buzzing everywhere he went in China.
"Then I saw gas prices here spike, and I thought I could sell them," said Letzel, chief executive of a Mission Viejo trading company called Global Discoveries.
For more than a decade, Letzel has made a living doing business with Asia: selling California wines in China and selling Chinese wine bottles to California vintners, buying gift package products there, printing Japanese textbooks here.
His latest import is the Eco-Glide LE, a scooter that looks like a Vespa but runs on a pair of rechargeable batteries with 1,500 watts of power – enough juice to cruise at more than 30 mph.
"Eco stands for economical and ecological," Letzel said.
The Eco-Glide runs as quietly as a golf cart. Recharging takes 10 to 12 hours and uses about 50 cents worth of electricity. The Eco-Glide's range is little more than 10 miles, which Letzel sees as practical for students or other short-distance commuters. In China, the scooters are popular for food deliveries. Letzel drives his to the office.
"The worst thing is being heckled by the guys on Harleys," he said.
In California, you need only a regular driver's license and a helmet to drive them, he said.
The biggest challenge was finding a reliable manufacturer in China, Letzel said. He scouted a dozen factories before choosing one in Taizhou, about an hour outside Shanghai. There, he found a pair of entrepreneurs he nicknamed the Wright Brothers – Ken Wu and Wei Jie – who eagerly adapted the Chinese scooters to American tastes.
The LE stands for "Luxury Edition" because the U.S. version of the scooter quadrupled the wattage to carry a typical American – up to 250 pounds – and installed bigger brakes to stop all that weight.
Letzel declined to release specific sales figures but said he has sold "a few hundred" since the bikes first were offered on Costco's Web site, www.costco.com. Although the scooters cost more than the cheapest moped, Letzel points out they are half the price of a Vespa.
And, Letzel adds:
"You can order them in any color, as long as it's black," he said.
Cost: $1,399.99.
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