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The new ethical way to travel? Hampstead shop brings electric scooters to London

Alan McKeown, owner of ViTa of Hampstead, on a ViTa Electric scooter called The Milano. Picture: Polly Hancock Alan McKeown, owner of ViTa of Hampstead, on a ViTa Electric scooter called The Milano. Picture: Polly Hancock

Saturday, May 3, 2014
1:00 PM

The first man to sell electric bikes in London has now branched out to sell electric scooters all over the country from his base in Hampstead.

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Alan McKeown, the owner of ViTa of Hampstead, has been in Heath Street for six years and is hoping that his scooters will prove popular with commuters.

Mr McKeown has sold electric bicycles in London for more than 12 years and was the first person to import electric bikes into the city from China, as well as selling £17,000 worth of the e-bikes in a 17-minute slot on the QVC shopping channel.

He now sells a range of products from roller skates and skateboards right up to the new line of electric scooters under the mantra “cool wheels, clean air”. Prices for the scooters start from £1,750.

The e-scooters are his latest venture and the past two years has been a process of trial and error, deciding which models work and sell best, Mr McKeown explained.

People who buy the scooters are apparently drawn by their throwback fashionable appearance, while the environmentally-friendly credentials are seen as a bonus.s

There are also cost-saving benefits to owning an electric scooter as owners do not have to pay road tax or congestion charges. “The running costs are very low and free parking appeals to many of my customers,” said Mr McKeown.

Many areas in London also offer free parking in order to motivate people to travel in more environmentally-friendly ways.

Owners of electric vehicles in Haringey do not have to pay for their resident’s parking permit, while Camden and 
Islington offer reduced rates of about £20 per year.

Mr McKeown is aware that electric power is the underdog in the transport industry, saying: “I think we are sleepwalking into global warming as there is no money to be made in clean air; it’s all in pollution.”

The electric scooters sold at ViTa of Hampstead can travel a maximum distance of 55 miles, depending on battery type, and are more suited to the short distance travelling of commuters and city dwellers.

A network of charging points has been set up across the capital by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, in order to 
address the concerns of those who think electric vehicles do not have the stamina of their gas-guzzling counterparts.

So it is now possible to charge electric scooters while out and about, and removable batteries allow the owner to charge them wherever they please.

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