Here's how the thinking at Best Buy could be going these days: CD and DVD sales are down – maybe for good. Even Blu-ray players aren't exactly flying off shelves. TVs, once bulky boxes, are now svelte screens. How do you fill all that floor space? Why not sell electric vehicles?
According to the Wall Street Journal, earlier this summer the big box electronics retailer began a pilot program to sell electric scooters and bikes at 19 of its stores (the LA Times says 21) on the West Coast.
"There's a transition that's taking place in personal transportation. With people looking to be more fuel-efficient, they want to save money and get around more easily for less cost," company spokesperson Kelly Groehler told the Times. "What we're seeing now is a groundswell with the general consumer examining electric transportation for their lives."
Best Buy's website also now includes a "Personal Transportation" page with six models of electric bikes, two scooters, and a cadre of charging, safety, and maintenance accessories.
As of Sunday, the stores in the pilot program are also selling a street-legal electric motorcycle.
The Enertia, from Ashland, Oregon-based Brammo, is an all-electric motorcycle that can take its rider as far as 45 miles on a three-hour charge, and reach speeds up to 50 m.p.h. Popular Science was impressed after a test ride, calling it "the perfect bike for the urban cowboy in search of his or her steel horse." Though it's eye-catching and whisper quiet, Best Buy doesn't expect many of the $11,995 motorcycles to roll out of its stores (should we call them showrooms now? dealerships?) during this recession.
Sound like a little bit of a stretch for a company known for selling computers, TVs, ink cartridges, cameras, and
overpriced cables? It is. But the Journal quoted Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn at the company's annual meeting defending the move as a way for them to stay a step ahead of where they think consumer tech is going: "I'm not sure how it's going to do either, but I like the muscles we're exercising"
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