Jonathan Schlee wanted his company's name to reflect its product: economical and ecologically friendly.
With prices at the pump lingering above $2 per gallon, Schlee said the market for alternative transportation has skyrocketed. His 2-year-old company, Eco Moto, experienced a 100 percent bump in sales in March alone.
"We've done phenomenal sales since March," said the 21-year old Schlee. "We sell both in the shop and online, and we send our electric products worldwide. We have customers in South Korea, Italy, Portugal. We don't limit ourselves to Utah. Everyone, everywhere, they're getting sick of paying high gas prices."
Eco Moto began in 2003 as Jon's Retro Rides, specializing in 49cc scooters. Back then, Schlee said the allure was mainly how popular the scooters were becoming. That all changed when, later that season, he attended an electrical vehicle symposium.
"It started us thinking about alternative transportation," Schlee said. "We decided we wanted to cover all facets of the market. So we started expanding our product line, and we're still expanding. We changed our name to Eco Moto after that first season. We wanted something that was memorable and unique, something that would incorporate our mission."
The company now offers a whole line of electric bicycles and scooters. It has moved from Schlee's garage to a store near the University of Utah to a larger space next door, 248 S. 1300 East. Eco-Moto also sells its electric vehicles online at www.ecomoto.net.
"We did really well last year, but not as intense as it's gotten lately," he said. "I think people were leery of buying from a new business. Now they know that we're here and that we're growing."Comment on this story
Some scooters can get as much as 100 miles to the gallon, Schlee said. The electric vehicles can reach 25 mph and travel up to 20 miles on a single charge. The electric vehicles also run "clean," meaning they give off no emissions. Prices range from about $500 for the basic electric bike to several thousand dollars for a top-of-the-line scooter.
Like its products, Eco-Moto sales manager Patrick Smith said the business has a mission to be as ecologically friendly as possible even the shop is powered by wind power."We want to help people save money on gas, sure," Smith said. "But also, to lessen the impact on the environment, even if it's just the impact of one person driving a huge SUV around."