Since gas prices are up, consumer demand for fuel-efficient vehicles has increased. As a result, scooter sales have jumped. Jeff Russo, manager of the Buffalo Scooter Co. in New York, tells The Buffalo News, "Gas prices are obviously going through the roof. They declined a little bit the last couple weeks, but people are seeing this general area of $4 a gallon. That's where we come in." Many of the scooters in Russo’s shop get 100 mpg, which is significantly better than even fuel-sipping hybrids like the Toyota Prius.

Scooters, like this Honda Elite, are becoming more popular as gas prices rise.

Buffalo isn’t the only area where sales are up, either. “According to the Motorcycle Industry Council's first-quarter 2011 sales report, motorcycle sales rose 7.2 percent, but scooter sales rose almost 50 percent,” writes The Orlando Sentinel. “The MIC report includes U.S. sales from only four major scooter manufacturers, so the total increase in scooter sales is likely even greater, especially since the MIC doesn't track the fast-growing Chinese import market.”

Scooters are also attracting older buyers looking for a new way to commute. George Hawkins, owner of the Scooter Shop in Evansville, Ind., tells the Evansville Courier & Press, "It used to be young people like 15-year-olds without their licenses and people who had lost their licenses — but that's changed."

Along with great fuel economy, scooters with engines less than 50 cubic centimeters don’t require a motorcycle license in many areas, which makes them more accessible to shoppers who don’t have time to take rider training courses, and they’re also relatively easy to ride. “The user-friendly traits of the original Vespa is a main reason scooters are gaining in popularity: they are simpler to operate than motorcycles, as almost all have automatic transmissions,” says The Orlando Sentinel.

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