The Vespa, a very popular mode of transportation throughout Europe, has failed to ever really seem like a good buy in the United States. But with the rise in both eco-friendliness and gas prices, could this be the summer that all changes?

I submit for your consideration some interesting facts from a recent video interview by MainStreet of a Brooklyn Vespa store owner:

As gas prices cruised upwards, so did the sales of Vespa scooters.

Scooters, on average, get 50 to 70 mpg, produce 65% fewer emissions than the average car, and cost about $5 to fill up at the pump. The Vespa also gets more than double the mileage per gallon of the Toyota Camry and even beats the Prius by about 15 mpg. So, it’s no surprise Vespa USA’s sales jumped 105% from May 2007 to May 2008.

If it’s such a sweet deal, then why doesn’t everyone toot around town on a scooter? Weather, nerves, fear, inconvenience and safety are just a few of the reasons.

The Vespa, along with other similar scooters, is viewed with a type of abhorrent disdain on American motorways. Case in point, take the hapless, nerdy, neurotic and decidedly uncool main character of Scrubs. Played by Zach Braff, ‘JD’ cruises to and from work on a scooter and is constantly lambasted by his friends and coworkers for doing so.

But besides, nerdy TV show characters – maybe it’s marketing like the commercial below that is keeping Vespa down.


Vespa Stunt Jumper – Watch more free videos

Yes, I realize that was a commercial for Vespa Canada, but the point is clear. Most Americans look at an ad like that and don’t think it’s something for them.

I always thought the film Quadrophenia with all The Who’s best songs and special appearances by Sting made a good case for scooter riders being a bunch of tough-as-hell punks, but I am probably not in the majority with that opinion.

So does anyone think spending only $20 a month on gas, but driving a Vespa everywhere is a fair tradeoff? Let us know in the comments.

MainStreet: Vespas Steer Consumers In A Gas-Saving Direction, June 17, 2008