scooterIn China, battery-powered electric scooters are almost as common as cars, with five million being sold each year. And the numbers are rising.

The biggest challenge in terms of using electric scooters, however, is that those being sold today rely on plug-in battery rechargers. The lead acid batteries take eight hours to recharge, and, if a scooter runs out of electricity on the road, the driver has no choice but to push the vehicle home to recharge.

Engineer Zhao Weiping may have the solution to this problem — a new solar-powered recharger, reports Peter Fuhrman on the blog China Private Equity.

The solar-powered recharger would charge automatically in the daylight, essentially creating a vehicle with zero emissions, zero fossil fuels, and zero cost per kilometer traveled.

The solar panels are convenient because they are powerful enough to keep the batteries charged and light enough to eliminate any overbearing drag. This makes electric scooters the most environmentally friendly mode of motorized transport available today, claimsFuhrman.

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There is also the potential to use lithium batteries, which cost more but take half the time to recharge and weigh less than half that of the leading acid batteries, allowing for higher top speeds.

Other benefits, according to Fuhrman: You don’t need a driver’s license or insurance to drive an electric scooter in much of the United States, and you can legally use the bicycle lanes, avoiding stop-and-go traffic.

Despite the convenience, affordability and greenness of scooters — especially if they’re solar-charged — few in the U.S. have caught onto the growing electric scooter trend sweeping China.

It may just be that no one knows about them. Not only might there be a mass market for electric scooters in the US and Europe, but they may also become the zero-carbon footprint vehicle of the future — if they’re solar-powered.

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