Electric scooter comes to Singapore, no plug included

Fri Jan 16, 2009 5:01am EST
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SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - A Singaporean firm is importing electric scooters into the small city-state, but they face the challenge of getting locals plugged into the environmentally friendly ride.

Zeco launched two models of the German-made E-max scooters on Thursday, with a hefty price tag of around S$7,000 ($4,700) each, or two or three times the price of a normal scooter at a time when the Southeast Asian country has slid into a recession.

The vehicles, which in some ways resemble motorcycles, run on lithium batteries and a motor capable of 7000 watts of power, according to E-max's website.

Zeco said in a statement that the 90S and 110S, the models it is importing to Singapore, had silicon batteries and have a nominal motor power of 4000 watts.

The firm said the E-max's price would be offset by savings on fuel, but admitted it be difficult for most riders to find a place to top-up since electric transport hasn't really caught on here and most Singaporeans live in high-rise flats.

"It's a chicken and egg complex. People first need to know that electric vehicles exist before they would invest in infrastructure for them," said Jan Creoni, the managing director of Zeco.

Zeco is hoping to sell just 200 scooters this year, targeting postal services or dispatch fleets as well as local bikers.

Japan's Yamaha Motor Co and Honda Motor Co are aiming to launch electric motorcycles by 2010-2011. Battery-powered Segways, which resemble pogo-sticks on wheels, are already on sale in Singapore, but they are rarely seen.

(Reporting by Kash Cheong; Editing by Neil Chatterjee and Miral Fahmy)

<p>Zeco electric scooters are parked inside a showroom in Singapore January 15, 2009. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash</p>