Page last updated at 08:09 GMT, Tuesday, 6 April 2010 09:09 UK

UK electric scooter launches with portable batteries

lithium battery
The lithium battery (with recharger in the background) weighs 11 kilograms.

An electric scooter with a portable battery that can be fully recharged at home in one hour has gone on sale.

The £2,000 scooter, called Yogo, is designed for short journeys and has the equivalent of a 100cc petrol engine.

Econogo, the firm behind the vehicle, claim it is "the UK's first and only full production electric scooter featuring removable lithium batteries".

It can travel distances of up to 22 miles between battery charges, with a top speed of 38 miles per hour (mph).

A smaller moped-like model, with top speeds of 27mph (43 km/h), has also been developed.

The idea was born after 28-year-old businessman James South returned to the UK from Vietnam where electric scooters are more mainstream

"I decided to buy a moped at a time when there was a cultural shift towards electric vehicles," he told BBC News..

"I typed 'electric scooter' into a search engine and couldn't find anywhere selling them in the UK, so I thought it might be a good idea."

Mr South spent the next 18 months in China researching battery and bike manufacturers to bring to the British market.

"The portable battery is the obvious solution to everything that's wrong with e-vehicles at the moment - that you have to know where a designated charger is," he added.

The bikes are equipped to carry a second battery for longer journeys. A relay switch means that either can be used without the need for a physical changeover.

In Japan Mitsubishi has just launched its first mass-market electric car, the i-Miev. The company claimed to have received 2000 advance orders for the model, which costs 2.8m yen (roughly £20,000).

It can be charged from home but the charge would take 14 hours from a domestic lead.

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