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Eco-friendly Vectrix earns top honors

Reviews say the Vectrix VX-1 (MSRP: $10,495) looks and feels like a big, comfortable maxi scooter, only this all-electric scooter uses no gas. You simply plug it into a standard household outlet to charge it. A three-hour full charge can take you 35 to 55 miles, the company says (real-life testers say it's more like 25 to 40 miles). A four-fifths charge takes two hours. The downside, of course, is the cost.

Experts say the Vectrix VX-1 electric scooter is a joy to ride. "The Vectrix is faster off the line than any scooter I've ridden," says Susan Carpenter of the Los Angeles Times. "The sheer fluidity of the drive is fun, fun, fun," says Yossef Schvetz at Motorcycle.com. "And when the time comes to tip-toe in traffic, you can really dole out the drive in what feels like fractions of foot-pounds. The control is simply amazing."

Although the Vectrix VX-1's top speed is only 62 mph, "On a rush-hour freeway run from Hollywood to Manhattan Beach, the Vectrix easily kept pace with 90 percent of auto traffic," reports Dexter Ford of The New York Times. Testers find the Vectrix attracts a lot of attention, both for its futuristic, angular styling and for its eco-friendly cachet (Leonardo DiCaprio reportedly rides a Vectrix electric scooter).

The Vectrix electric scooter's main drawback is its cost, reviews say. Only about 1,000 Vectrix scooters were on the road in January 2009, according to The New York Times. By April, the company was in financial trouble and laid off 60 workers. That month, Vectrix introduced a cheaper model, the Vectrix VX 1-E (MSRP: $8,495), with a maximum speed of 50 mph. "Even the New York City Police department recently bought ten VX 1-Es for fleet use," Popular Mechanics reports. The 30-mph Vectrix VX-2 (MSRP: $5,195) electric scooter is expected in June.

Meanwhile, a 10-percent federal tax credit applies to all electric motorcycles and scooters purchased through December 2011, effectively knocking $500 to $1,000 off the price of a Vectrix. And like other scooters and motorcycles, if you buy a Vectrix electric scooter by the end of December 2009, you can also deduct your sales and excise taxes on your federal return (see our What to Look For page).

There are other eco-friendly scooters on the market, including electric scooters from eGO, EVTAmerica and Veloteq, as well as the hybrid Veken VK-M50 (MSRP: $2,800). None of these are nearly as powerful as the Vectrix VX-1, however, hitting only 25 to 45 mph.

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