2009 Fall Auto Guide
A white sports car with the back of a large silver sports car in the backrground with orange, yellow and purple tints
auto
375 mpg, 65 mph on electric motorcycle

Brammo, an Ashland, Ore., manufacturer of the Enertia electric bike, illustrates the savings like this: If you consider the cost of gas (at an average cost of $2.63 per gallon) and compare that to the cost of electricity ($.007 per mile), you are essentially getting 376 miles per gallon by using an electric bike. The Enertia Web site features a savings calculator tool, where you can enter information about your current vehicle and driving habits and see what kind of savings you can expect by switching to an Enertia bike.

There are other financial advantages to owning an electric bike. Consumers can take advantage of two new tax incentives that were included in the recently passed federal stimulus packages. The government will now give you a 10 percent tax credit for the purchase of plug-in vehicles, including motorcycles. In addition, there's a federal tax deduction for state sales tax paid on the purchase of these vehicles. Plus, many states have also passed their own tax breaks and other initiatives to encourage consumer to buy electric vehicles.

Combined, "This effectively reduces the final cost of purchase of a Zero S bike by a minimum of almost $1000," says Saiki.

Enertia

On the horizon

So far, small and/or startup companies have produced most electric bikes available to consumers, although major manufacturers reportedly have new models of electric bikes in the works. Honda has said it plans to have an electric bike on the market by 2010, and Yamaha reportedly is developing an electric bike to be released in the next year or so.

Brammo recently announced plans to have its Enertia bikes for sale at Best Buy stores starting later this year. That will help attract the attention of a more mainstream consumer base, but carries the risk of alienating some of the die-hard biker crowd, who tend to like buying their rides at a traditional bike shop. On the plus side, Enertia customers will be able to get their bikes repaired right at the store by Best Buy's Geek Squad technicians.

Bobbi Dempsey is a freelance writer based in Pennsylvania.

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