Why Best Buy Is Pulling The Plug On (Most) Electric Scooters And Motorcycles

No one is buying them because of charging confusion. Is there a future for electric two-wheelers sold as personal electronics?

burned out motorcycle

We proclaimed that electric motorcycles were going mainstream after Best Buy introduced the Brammo Enertia electric commuter bike to select stores in 2009. But maybe two-wheeled EVs aren't ready for the big time after all--Best Buy recently told BNET that it is slashing its electric motorcycle and scooter selection, shutting down broad sales in 27 markets and selling a small number scattered across 250 store locations--but only in the summer (when consumers are more likely to be riding). We asked Best Buy what happened to their EV revolution.

Spokeswoman Kelly Groehler tells us that it's a matter of interest (and, of course, lack of sales). "We've seen real consumer interest in these transportation options and equally there are some very real barriers to adoption," she says. "In particular, [customers want to know] how am I going to keep this thing charged?"

But just because the two-wheelers have seen lackluster sales doesn't mean Best Buy is giving up on EVs altogether. On the contrary--the company is just switching its tactics. "We say 'well okay, if the consumer barrier is keeping it charged, we have a great track record through the Geek Squad and home installation." So Best Buy is instead becoming the place where you buy home charging stations for electric cars, like the Ford Focus and Mitsubishi i-Miev. The store is also installing charge spots in some of its parking lots.

Best Buy isn't using any particular time frame to judge the success of its charging station sales, and it's waiting to judge the results of its scaled down two-wheeled EV plan, too. "We'll continue to run these experiments. We have no set end time we've identified for any of these," explains Groehler. "We have to balance all this with so many other things in our business."

But if the company can get people more excited about the prospect of plugging in their transportation options, things could change.

And as for those rumors that Best Buy will be selling electric cars in its stores? Unsurprisingly, that won't be happening anytime soon.

[Image by Flickr user Bosc d'Anjou]

Reach Ariel Schwartz via Twitter or email.

Read More: Electric Motorcycles Go Mainstream: Best Buy's Selling the Brammo

Add New Comment

5 Comments

  • joan archer

    Best Buy is a great company- they should continue to show leadership by expanding their EV choices- the technology just gets better and better- i hope they continue - we need their leadership- there are a lot of options they should consider- examples are found in www.chargedelectricscooters.co.... If someone wants to be negative they should be negative on gasoline vehicles!

  • Larsen E Whipsnade

    The problem with e-scooters is that they're (a) slow (b) heavy (c) not licensed & therefore easy to steal and sell on craigslist (d) expensive battery replacements required (e) poorly made with shabby electrical connections, etc.  Other than that, I guess they're kind of trendy.  But, just like the Hydrogen Highway, they're not well thought out compared to the alternatives.

  • Dave Harmon

    Prime example of bad reporting and over hype by a start-up company. Best Buy only offers the Brammo electric motorcycles in three or four of their stores and these are located in California and Oregon. It is hard to give these products less exposure. To make matters worse, the Brammo management team (less then mental giants and certainly not marketing experts) announced a new version of their Enertia bike (the one that Best Buy sells) about a year ago. The new version has twice the range, a significantly improved appearance, and a long list of other improvements and costs only slightly more. They also announced a new full performance electric motorcycle at the same time that has a 100 mile range and goes 100 miles per hour which is dramatically better than the existing Enertia. As a result, anyone that is informed on the product has delayed buying one as they await the new models. And as often happens, this is taking much longer then expected. In fact, the faster performance bike has now been moved out the 2012 and their is no word on the Enertia Plus (another example of the strength of the Brammo management team). The end result is no sales of the Brammo Enertia.

  • william hoppes

    Electric bikes are everywhere in china, they cost from a few hundred $ rather than the thousands of $ that ones in the US cost. People pull up and plug them pretty much onto any outlet.  These bikes are a great way to get around. They are based on lead-acid batteries which is an issue but not unfixable.  They aren't selling here because we are ignoring their biggest selling point in China: they are cheap and easy to use.

  • Joe Schmoe

    They might want to improve their marketing - I was completely unaware that they carried these.