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Battery-powered scooter may be your ride

Jim Jamieson, CanWest News Service
Published: Monday, April 03, 2006

VANCOUVER - Motorcycles have always been miserly on gasoline, but a Vancouver company is showcasing a model that uses none at all.

Greenwit Technologies showed off its Motorino electric motorcycle as one of dozens of companies exhibiting a wide range of environmentally friendly technologies and products at the Globe 2006 trade fair and conference this week in Vancouver.

Don't expect to go very far, or very fast, but if you're looking for zero emissions at a cost of only pennies, then this may be your ride.

"With high fuel prices, people now are thinking about alternatives," said Greenwit spokesman Phillipp Annen. "The technology has advanced to the point where this is workable now.

"In the past, the motors weren't strong enough and the batteries were too heavy."

The new scooter builds on the four-year-old company's line of electric mopeds. Strictly a short-haul commuter vehicle, the Motorino is capable of a top speed of 70 kilometres an hour and has a range of 40 to 80 km, depending on usage. The battery takes about six hours to recharge at an estimated cost of 35 cents.

The electric motor can generate 2,000 watts, or 3.5 horsepower.

It will be throttled back to 1,500 watts through the electronic controller to comply with B.C.'s limited-speed motorcycle guidelines.

That way, it can be operated by someone with a regular driver's licence without motorcycle certification.

Annen said the company has been selling the mopeds "in the hundreds" and were hearing that customers wanted to go faster.

"We found people want to keep up with traffic," he said. "With this, you can go with the traffic flow."

Greenwit's scooter -- which Annen said requires virtually zero maintenance -- sells for $4,000. The batteries have an expected lifetime of 1,000 charges or three years and cost about $400 to replace.

The components are manufactured in China and Taiwan and assembled here.

More than 2,000 participants from 75 countries are attending the environmental business gathering through Friday.

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