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It is not unusual to see many European and Asian streets filled with electric or gas-powered scooters, but Americans still seem to prefer automobiles by and large for running even the smallest errands. Scooters have several advantages over cars and motorcycles when it comes to efficiency and convenience, but getting the American public to embrace these advantages continues to be a challenge for scooter manufacturers.
In a time when fuel costs are running high, one obvious advantage of scooters is fuel economy. Filling the gas tank of most scooters involves only a fraction of the expense of keeping a typical car's tank full. For those on a tight budget, the cost of keeping scooters in running order is negligible compared to automobiles. Since scooters such can be equipped with extra storage compartments and maintain city street speeds, many local errands can be run on one tank of gas or a full electrical charge.
Even the most expensive scooters on the market today are noticeably less costly than motorcycles and economy cars. Insurance requirements for scooters are usually less restrictive than equivalent liability coverage for cars and motorcycles. Many people find motorcycles to be difficult to operate and not practical for day-to-day activities like shopping or commuting to work. Even the most economical car may require substantial monthly payments in addition to licensing fees and mandatory insurance. Scooters, on the other hand, are much easier to operate than motorcycles and rarely incur the sort of damage or liability even the smallest automobile can experience.
Another advantage scooters have over larger vehicles is parking and storage. In many large cities, finding a suitable parking place for a car may involve endless loops around crowded streets or additional fees in a parking garage. The destination may still be blocks away, leaving the driver little choice but to walk. Scooters can legally be parked in city-sponsored bicycle racks or secured with chains to sturdy objects on the sidewalk. This means scooter owners can often find suitable parking almost anywhere along their planned routes. Scooters can also maintain city traffic speeds, making them less of a potential hazard than bicyclists or pedestrians.