For some drivers, scooters remedy pain at the pump

By Brian Mellen

With scooters lining the walls, Dale Meadors, owner and manager of Illini Scooters at 221 S. Locust St, pitched his sale to a customer interested in buying.

Whether or not he ends up closing the deal doesn’t really matter. There’s plenty of other people interested in buying scooters.

“I wish I was smarter to have figured this all out ahead of time and give you exactly when to open a scooter store,” Meadors said in reference to his store’s success. “But it was dumb luck.”

His new store opened this last spring and he said business is good.

Meadors said so far he has sold more than double his original projections. And it all has to do with one word- – gasoline.

The average car gets between 15-25 miles per gallon of gas, while a scooter can go for up to 80-90 mpg, Meadors said.

“Everybody’s going to justify their purchase with the gasoline prices,” he said.

Meadors sells two different models of Wildfire scooters in his shop, 50s and the bigger, highway friendly 150s. The 50s get up to 85 mpg and the 150s between 75-80 mpg.

What has been commonly used all over Europe for years, is catching on in Champaign-Urbana. Scooters are the new buzz in transportation.

But Rhett Simpson, a motorcycle sales associate at Andrae’s Harley-Davidson in Urbana, said the new trend with scooters does not necessarily translate to Harleys. He said motorcycle sales this summer have been about the same as any other year.

Sales may have even been a little slower this past spring because temperatures didn’t really heat up until the end of May he said.

“We have had a few customers that have been thinking ‘Well gas prices are getting higher I need to get a little bit better gas mileage,'” Simpson said. “But for the most part it tends to still be more ‘I’m getting a Harley.'”

Nonetheless, for Meadors, scooters are selling like hotcakes and he is happy to take advantage of the current trend.

Meadors’ customers so far have been predominantly middle-aged and older. Though, with the fall semester at the University fast approaching, he can hardly wait for students to return from vacation.

“I think the student market is going to be huge,” said Meadors. “It’s perfect for students.”

Meadors said excellent gas mileage isn’t the only reason for students to buy a scooter for the fall.

He said parking is terrible on campus and scooters offer college kids an easy alternative to paying hundreds of dollars a year on parking.

Josh Hoffman, senior in Aviation, agreed. He rides a motorcycle now but bought and used a scooter his junior year as an alternative to driving a car.

“Parking was too expensive so I bought it to save on money,” said Hoffman.