Scooter Store Offers Green Alternatives

Bancroft Avenue Shop's Electric Bikes, Scooters Provide Environmentally Friendly Transportation

Photo: Green Choice Moto offers a variety of electric, environmentally friendly wheels for sale and rent at their store, which opened last October on Bancroft Way and Bowditch Street.
Amir Moghtaderi/Staff
Green Choice Moto offers a variety of electric, environmentally friendly wheels for sale and rent at their store, which opened last October on Bancroft Way and Bowditch Street.

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While visiting China in 2007, Vassili Kokkinias, former aerospace engineer turned high school physics teacher, first realized the untapped business potential of electric scooters.

"We had nothing of that sort in America," he said. "I was enamored almost instantly."

One year later, Kokkinias founded the electric scooter company Green Choice Moto in Toronto, Canada. Business was booming and after two years, he decided to franchise the company and expanded into the United States. Last October, he eventually settled on 2576 Bancroft Way.

"Berkeley was the place to be," said Kokkinias, CEO of the company. "We really liked the atmosphere and culture and felt it was friendly to what we wanted to do: green transportation."

The first shipment of electric scooters and bicycles arrived from China in December, when Green Choice Moto opened its doors. Since then the store has served more than 200 customers.

Prices for the e-bicycles and e-scooters range from $549 to $1,600. The vehicles are also available for rent at $10 an hour or $40 for 12 hours.

While gas scooters use only 20 percent of inputted fuel, the electric scooters and bikes use more than 95 percent of the energy from one charge. Each scooter or bike can travel 35 to 40 miles on one charge at a speed of 22 to 25 mph and at a cost of 6 cents per charge.

Under California law, electric scooters and bikes are classified as power-assisted bicycles, which do not have an insurance requirement or required parking fees. Drivers are not required to have licenses and can travel within designated bike lanes.

"Customer feedback has definitely been positive," said Vice CEO Joe Xiao, a 2010 UC Berkeley alumnus. "Most people, especially students, like that we are green and low cost."

In the near future, Kokkinias said he hopes to expand the company into Stockton and San Francisco.

"The electric motors industry is going to be a huge opportunity," said CFO Tony Liu, a 2010 UC Berkeley alumnus. "Most people haven't heard of our product yet, but that won't stop us. Maybe we can eventually get government support."

Although Green Choice Moto has not yet publicized on campus, it will be attending the PLAYgreen Festival at Pauley Ballroom Friday.

UC Berkeley senior Monserrat Toro, who is interning at the company, said she is currently working with CampusCred to issue a coupon deal by the end of March.

Green Choice Moto is one of several electric scooter and bike companies in Berkeley looking to capitalize on customer demand for environmentally friendly transport.

"We have a pretty good relationship with the owner there," said Bill Hogan, manager of Pacific E-Bike in West Berkeley. "I feel like it's pretty different from my place. He sells models different from us and vice versa. It seems like they have a good location and know what they are doing."

The city's 2006 Climate Action Plan - a green initiative that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 - reported that 29 percent of Berkeley's emissions were from gasoline-powered vehicles. With more residents and students choosing greener modes of transportation, like e-scooters, that percentage may drop in the future.

"The people of Berkeley are definitely in favor of green corporations," said city spokesperson Mary Kay Clunies-Ross. "Berkeley has taken a lot of pains to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."


Contact Neetu Puranikmath at [email protected]

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