Personal Electric Vehicles: The Next Wave in Urban Transportation?

Personal electric vehicles take a wide range of forms and are mostly marketed to urban hipsters – young professional who live near their work (and play) and might even, in good weather, walk on their daily commute. This class of vehicles includes one-seat cars, motor scooters and mopeds, specialized bicycles equipped with motors and even some quasi-golf cart like vehicles intended for use by one person. The one thing they all have in common is their reliance on electric energy as their sole power source.

Sales of personal electric vehicles have increased in recent years, as anyone who has made a visit to a city center has observed. Vespas and Segways proliferate as people adopt modes of transportation designed for one person’s use on relatively short (and slow) trips. This increase is probably sparked by rising energy costs and traffic congestion, especially in cities without affordable and effective public transportation systems.

An Attractive Option for the Single Set

Personal electric vehicles represent the ultimate in independence – they are after all, typically designed to transport only one person, although two people can be technically be crammed into some models. Thus, these vehicles are an attractive option for anyone that doesn’t have a family (or much luggage) to transport.

The multiple versions of personal electric vehicles suggest there is an option for anyone looking for affordable electric transportation for themselves. Some can be charged on standard electrical outlets while others operate on special, more high-powered electric lines. Additionally, some personal electric vehicles can be charged using solar energy. Instructions for this conversion are fairly straightforward and seem like they could be utilized by anyone with a basic understand of electricity.

The increased popularity of personal electric vehicles has implications not only for the owners of vehicles themselves, but also for the organization of cities now and in the future. Because personal electric vehicles allow individuals to expand their personal mobility without clogging streets with additional full sized, gas-powered vehicles, they have the impact to reduce traffic congestion and environmental issues typically witnessed in cities with high population density. Personal electric vehicles may also increase the distance that people are willing to live from their work and recreation area without a car, which could help inner cities remain vibrant and alive.

Lower purchase and maintenance costs also make personal electric vehicles an attractive alternative to full-size vehicles for people who typically make only short trips in their vehicle. Personal electric vehicles may well represent the transportation mode of choice for young urban professionals in the future.

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