free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 359. HYBRID SCOOTERS

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Scooter sales are surging according to a new article in the New York Times. Make that another industry getting a big shot in the arm from peak oil:
In the first three months of 2008, scooter sales were up nationwide by 24 percent compared with the same period a year earlier, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council. And that was before gas starting hitting $4 a gallon. A continued rise in fuel prices could accelerate sales further. The increase in gas prices in summer 2005 correlated with a jump in scooters sales of 64.5 percent during the summer months compared with summer 2004. (Sales in the entire motorcycle category went up also, but by only 16 percent.)

This guy is starting to understand "peak oil". Get a scooter and quit worrying about it.
Scooters are winning converts, and not just for the romance of Vespas. Last August, Chris Casal, a 32-year-old elementary school teacher who lives in Brooklyn Heights, bought a scooter for his commute to Williamsburg, in part because of concerns about gasoline prices and parking. Since then, he estimates he has driven his car only 15 times and usually only when it was cold or less than 20 degrees outside. Even though he lives only five miles from work, it is a 45-minute trip by subway or a 12-minute drive.

“Because I know I am going to get a gallon, gallon-and-a half max,” Mr. Casal said, he no longer worried about gas prices. “That’s the first time in my life I’ve ever not cared what the price of gas was.”
Check out this 3-wheeled hybrid scooter from Piaggio:

This machine has an unbelievable fuel efficiency of 170mpg (=71km/liter), and will be available later this year (Source). This particular model is quite expensive, but that's not important. Cheaper competitors will flood the market when demand justifies it. The important point is how incredibly fuel efficient personal transportation can become in response to higher oil prices -- with off-the-shelf technology that is ready to roll, today.
by JD


At Thursday, June 5, 2008 at 9:32:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's important to point out that nobody wanted a scooter 2 years ago, they all wanted the slick Escalade. thus we see the power of higher prices to change behavior.

At Thursday, June 5, 2008 at 2:56:00 PM PDT, Blogger Arclite said...

JD, you're such a hypocrite. Why don't you just merge with or theoildrum and be done with it? Your articles recently are all along the same lines.

At Thursday, June 5, 2008 at 3:12:00 PM PDT, Blogger Sean Daugherty said...

Hmm. I didn't realize "we'll drive scooters" is the same thing as "we'll all die." Learn something new every day, I guess....

Hey, JD, I don't suppose you happen to know if the girl comes with the Piaggio, do you? ;-)

At Thursday, June 5, 2008 at 3:21:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The scooters look great - for somewhere other than where I live. The doomers do have a point that resonates with me - I do need a car for carrying my child, for traveling during the winter (we usually have a week or so of -40F or colder), and for carrying groceries. Either that, or the bus system needs to get a whole lot better. And yes, we do carpool already.

At Thursday, June 5, 2008 at 4:17:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"JD, you're such a hypocrite. Why don't you just merge with or theoildrum and be done with it? Your articles recently are all along the same lines."

what you don't realize is that up until a few years ago the majority of the world commuted on bicycles and scooters.

At Thursday, June 5, 2008 at 4:35:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scooters will catch if the prices remain high. However, this blog has made a strong argument that the current high prices are nothing but a speculative bubble. In that case why spend the cash on a scooter that I can only use in summer anyway? Let's wait for the bubble to burst, oil go back to 30-35$, and gas at the pump to 1.50$ a gallon, and keep that Ford Explorer going.

You can't have it both ways, JD. Either this bubble bursts and with it the incentives to find alternatives to oil go away, or the prices stay high, proving that the speculator argument is bogus.

At Thursday, June 5, 2008 at 4:46:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

Either this bubble bursts and with it the incentives to find alternatives to oil go away, or the prices stay high, proving that the speculator argument is bogus.

If the bubble bursts, the problem goes away.
If prices stay high, people switch to scooters and the problem goes away.
Give me a wake-up call when you identify a genuine problem. Zzzzzzzzzz

At Thursday, June 5, 2008 at 6:16:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Give me a wake-up call when you identify a genuine problem."

The genuine problem is exponential growth, population & economic.
There are 600 million car drivers in the world; 3 billion scooter riders will need just as much oil. Your 'solution' will just delay the problem by a couple decades, at best. It's better than nothing, of course.

You're a cornucopian or you're not. If you accept cornucopia, the future is billions of cars and scooters, and the hundreds of thousands of power plants to support them (better start building them now!). If you say we won't go there, then you accept the Limits to Growth, and therefore, the possibility of overshoot and collapse.

At Thursday, June 5, 2008 at 7:30:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The genuine problem is exponential growth, population & economic."

The population growth is not exponential; it's barely even linear!

Why? Well ironically the reason why is your declared enemy, economic growth. You don't need a litter of kids to take care of you when you're old; you can afford some birth control and some education.

At Thursday, June 5, 2008 at 7:46:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the possibility of overshoot and collapse."

I'll accept the doomer argument when the doomers do: to wit, they all kill themselves.

At Thursday, June 5, 2008 at 8:40:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"and the hundreds of thousands of power plants to support them"

no person who knew anything about peak oil would say that.

At Friday, June 6, 2008 at 8:36:00 AM PDT, Blogger David Grenier said...

Wait, there's a scooter in that picture??

As I mentioned in other comments, my local scooter shop is almost 100% sold out of stock, and can't get more. The importers and distributors are all sold out. More are coming from China and Taiwan, but they're all spoken for.

Of course, what all the dealers, distributors, and manufacturers are wondering is whether they should build/buy more next year, or whether this is the crest of the wave. But I think its good. The more people that ride scooters, the more their friends and family see a practical alternative to having to drive a giant SUV everywhere.

And to folks like 40 below who only look for excuses rather than solutions, do you take your kid with you every time you go anywhere, and are you constantly carrying groceries? I still use my car for those sorts of things, but I use my scooter when I'm going around town by myself, which saves gas and saves putting too many stop-and-go miles on my (much more expensive to maintain or replace) car.

Oh, and if oil does go back to $35 and gas back to $1.50, many people will still ride scooters because they are a MUCH MORE FUN way to get to work.

At Friday, June 6, 2008 at 9:47:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David - I wouldn't say I'm "making excuses." I would say that I think there are valid reasons why scooters can't even begin to solve the transportation problems where I live. (Perhaps that means I should move. Plenty of people are already doing that in my town.) Yes, 90% of the time, my child is with me. My husband's work, my work, and her daycare are all close together, so we ride together. When possible, we fill the 4th seat in the car with another coworker.
At any rate, the climate here is such that scooters aren't useable for 6 months of the year, anyway. As I said before - scooters look great for other parts of the country. I'm still pushing for a functional bus system.

At Friday, June 6, 2008 at 2:54:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Your 'solution' will just delay the problem by a couple decades, at best."

Uh...wouldn't a couple of decades be a huge amount of time in which to adapt to the rising price of oil and depletion of fossil fuels? I can't imagine what would be possible in that time if the world is already waking up to the problem right now.

At Friday, June 6, 2008 at 3:28:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

40below sed: "The doomers do have a point that resonates with me [...]"

Then why not kill yourself? Exactly: because the doomer position is untenable. What you call "resonance" is just brain-lock. Eventually you'll come out of it. If you don't, you will be an Official Doomer!

"I do need a car for carrying my child, for traveling during the winter (we usually have a week or so of -40F or colder), and for carrying groceries."

Did parents 40,000 years ago need a car? I suspect you can do better, even without a car. I'd also suggest staying at home when it is -40F, unless absolutely necessary. As for groceries:

(that was the top of the list for a google search on "grocery delivery", no quotes)

"I would say that I think there are valid reasons why scooters can't even begin to solve the transportation problems where I live."

As JD says, relax, this is only your lifestyle that is changing.

At Friday, June 6, 2008 at 5:13:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

Then why not kill yourself?

anon, tone it down. 40below is sincere and looking for constructive ideas. No need to be pointlessly hostile.

Good link on winter scootering, however.

At Friday, June 6, 2008 at 5:58:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tone it down? The question was initially rhetorical (see my answer). However, on further thought, I think the question is a serious one. If someone truly does think the current situation inevitably leads to "doom", then why delay the supposedly inevitable?

As for "constructive ideas": do note that I presented several. But is doomerism? The entire philosophy sounds deeply nihilistic in the Nietzschean sense -- "any philosophy that results in an apathy toward life and a poisoning of the human soul".

I now think an honest doomer, or those who are sympathetic to the idea, needs to confront this issue straight on at some point.

The sooner, the better.

At Friday, June 6, 2008 at 5:59:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey JD! Hows that commodity correction coming that you warned us about yesterday morning? Haven't seen you on since you posted that message $16 dollars ago.

Gee, I hope you didn't follow your own investment advice. You might be broke and have to shut this site down.

At Friday, June 6, 2008 at 6:53:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

Patience joe, patience. It'll come in good time. The recent $16 wallow in the pigpen just goes to show how frothy and disconnected from reality the market has become.

Also, I'm not an investor, so I personally don't care which way the market goes. I just like sticking needles in your bubble. :-)

At Saturday, June 7, 2008 at 3:53:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aren't speculators just forecasting on fundamentals--be it political, infrastructural or geologic; the price climbs as demand goes beyond supply, which it is on the verge of doing.

Anyway, some more signs of demand destruction as people make their changes to scooters, bicycles, car pools and generally just not driving

A decent read, although some hard facts such as that recent drop in American miles travelled by car (biggest quarterly drop since 73, non?)

Add the transit ridership climbing, and the sudden death of the SUV, what will next three quarters show for demand destruction?

Ending or lessening of subsidies in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and, rumour has it, China after the Olympics. These countries can't have inflation rates of 8-9 percent, $135 bbl, and keep up this demand.

Combine this will Iraq starting to come on line and, some new offshore finds looking promising and the Bakken play producing a little here and there alreading, I'm starting to feel a tad optimistic about the long plateau....Perhaps enough of one to tide us over to 2nd/3rd generation biofuels to stretch it out a little and then 5 years for PHEVs and genuine PEVs to start to really put a dent into demand.

One caveat of course. What does oil a $150 + mean for oil intensive economies such as America, Japan and most of Europe? Some immediate bleeding in the airline industry and possibly this summer will show major sags in tourism (the "staycation" the new buzzword). But, as fuel costs soar, how many farmers do we lose? How many manufacturing jobs, particularly the middle level businesses? How many tertiary industries--car dealerships, etc? I'm scared for my job frankly...who needs an English prof when kids parents can no longer pay the tuition.

At Saturday, June 7, 2008 at 4:00:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

grrr...I cannot get the links and HTML tags down yet.

anyway the story of demand destruction can be found on the first page at

At Saturday, June 7, 2008 at 5:39:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Aren't speculators just forecasting on fundamentals [...]"

That is indeed their argument. Not only that, but these people like to view themselves as offering society a wonderful service (e.g., Victor Niederhoffer, "Speculator as Hero",

But they would, wouldn't they? How else could they sleep at night if they spend their day buying up the world's food supply, holding it until they can re-sell at higher price? Buy enough of it you can artificially create a supply problem (i.e., them), so the price must increase. Their only value-add is as middle-man-because-they-can, while offering a stream of nonsense arguments for their market behavior:

"Responding to a report out of Goldman Sachs today, the price of oil shot up $30 a barrel. Ichabod Schmultz, author of the study, noted that the Foreign Ministers of a sample of five OPEC countries farted 3.7% more frequently at the latest news conference than at similar ones last year. Noted Schmultz, with a practiced straight face, 'In accord with standard OPEC rules, excess methane production here must lead to a reduction in fossil fuel production elsewhere. This is also in accordance with the general tightening of supply we have observed lately'."

Sound familiar?

Consider, as one example of many, the "hedge against inflation" argument currently used to justify the current take-over of commodity markets. Since their activity in the market is creating the price increases which is inflation, are they not just hedging against themselves? Couldn't they manipulate themselves, in the privacy of a closet, and obtain the same sense of "job well done"? In any case, the activity doesn't seem especially "efficient", at least if the word is to retain a reasonable meaning.

"What does oil a $150 + mean for oil intensive economies such as America, Japan and most of Europe?"

GDP of the USA is $14 trillion/year. Total oil consumption is 20 million bpd. For 365 days, at $150/bbl, we get 1 trillion dollars, or about 8% of the GDP. When oil was $75/bbl, this was 4%.

Conclusion: this isn't the end of the world.

Advice: Adapt and move on.
Don't listen to the economic parasites^H^H^H^H^, excuse me, the speculators or the media who give them an unquestioned open mic.

At Sunday, June 8, 2008 at 11:18:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah well a lot of people will not need any transportation because they'll lose their job due to peakoil.

At Sunday, June 8, 2008 at 5:53:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I appreciate skepticism, devil's advocacy, and I do believe that cooler heads prevail. That said, its clear to me that your thesis has been discredited. The necessity for the disclaimer and its peculiar shifting nature tipped me off, but the stubborn nature of your posts and the refusal to admit that you're largely misrepresenting both the Peak Oil community and have failed to "debunk" it are unfortunate.

Your blog represents a massive rhetorical and intellectual overreach. I value the levity that comes with pointing out where doomers are hysterically wrong and where commentators have lengthy records of bad predictions --this has added to my own understanding and levelheadedness-- but its clear to me that there needs to be some true rapprochement on your part, not a scornful admonishment to people who rightly criticize the stated purpose of your writing.

This is not Peak Oil Debunked, this is Peak Oil Dealt With.

At Sunday, June 8, 2008 at 10:58:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

This is not Peak Oil Debunked, this is Peak Oil Dealt With.

Thanks Patrick. You're about the 100th person who has made that comment. As I've said on numerous occasions, I selected the name of the blog for marketing purposes. It's what people type into a search engine when they are looking for information of the sort this site provides. "Peak Oil Dealt With" isn't a popular search term; "Peak Oil Debunked" is. So I'm happy with the blog title. As you yourself can verify by reading the blog, I have accepted that oil will peak from day one, and I addressed the question about the title in detail almost 3 years ago in #138.

Anyway, be sure to chime in again if you ever get a point.

At Monday, June 9, 2008 at 5:12:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back to the topic of hybrid scooters--I feel the occasional moment of hope when I read articles like the following report about the massive development of lithion ion batteries in China

Scooters, phevs, BEVs including scooters looking to take a trajectory course in the largest country in the world, as well as the OECD, along with solar power becoming cheaper, MUCH more efficient, and being built on larger and larger scale, should give some here at least grounds for hope, especially in the face of $150 bbl oil.

On the same note, I had dinner last night with the head of R&D for a major auto parts and technology company here in Japan (135,000 workers, 27 countries)and their main clients are Toyota and Nissan. Toyota is not only undergoing massive restructuring aimed at churning out Lithion Ion powered BEV and PHEV in the next few years but is also heading for an energy harnessing system that will allow stretches of road to recharge the batteries through sensors in the road AS the BEV/PHEV passes over. Interesting, non?

As for a correction, it seems more and more likely that any sort of correction downwards will be slight, and momentary. Too many worries about Iran, the low dollar, and upstream concerns in supply, keeping the prospects of permanent contango all the more likely.

However, my parting question would be--can a sustained price of $150 bbl to $200 bbl lead a lengthy recession resulting in much economic loss but a restructuring of capital and gains in conservation and efficiency with a concomittant lessening of demand in crude?

At Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 8:15:00 PM PDT, Blogger Ari said...

How funny that the Japanese are saving our asses again (like in the 1970s) with their efficiency-minded programs.

I remember teaching English in Kyushu during the winter, and how even if it was snowing or hailing outside, everyone went to school. Even if they had to walk in the middle of the rainiest day of Spring, they walked.

Life will go on, and the Japanese have demonstrated that to me in so many ways.

Oh, and get this everyone: they did most of their agriculture there BY HAND. Yep. Rice cost like 5 times as much, but they still carried on.

Speaking of the Japanese saving our asses:

Japan , US reaffirm nuclear cooperation,


Post a Comment

<< Home