ENGLEWOOD — Don’t be alarmed if you’re on North Beach Road and see a vehicle looking like a rogue bumper car with three wheels — it’s street-legal.
Mark Timchula, owner of Englewood Florida Scooters, sells and rents ScootCoupes, motorized scooters with a car-like chassis. He started the company in January.
“I was in the usedcar businesses for over 28 years,” Timchula said. “I first saw them at Ocean City, Md., which is a beach town. I thought it would be a great idea to bring it to Englewood.”
The vehicles are gaspowered and come in three sizes. Top speeds range from 40-60 mph. The casual 49cc model is classified as a moped and can be operated by anybody. The bigger models, since they exceed 40 mph, require a motorcycle license to operate.
“My busy months are January through May,” Timchula said. “Business has been good throughout the season. I’ve gotten mostly rentals during the busy season. I’ve managed to sell a used one.”
Timchula operates his businesses primarily out of Englewood Beach at 2100 N. Beach Road. He offers various rental rates from half an hour to all day. He sells the vehicles for $6,800 new, and $5,500 used.
Panther Motors, based out of Tamarac, Fla., is a primary distributor for ScootCoupes.
“We started (Panther Motors) in 2004,” said Dominick Livoti, president of Panther Motors. “It was created to provide a rental vehicle for the scooter industry. The (scooter) was to be side-by-side. It won’t have the dangers of a two-wheeler.”
Livoti said the 49cc model is popular with rental companies, while the 150cc model is the most popular commercially.
“The demand we have is about split between the rental and sales,” Livoti said. “The 100cc isn’t all that popular in Florida. People just get the 150cc for the speed. Some states set a limit up to 100cc, and we’ll ship ScootCoupes domestically and overseas.”
The vehicles offer seat belts, but do not fall under the seat belt law, since they operate as scooters and motorcycles.
“We sell them all around the country,” Livoti said. “They tend to be popular in resort areas. Customers really enjoy the fact they can have a passenger at their side, stability and a space compartment. They also like the fuel efficiency.”
The fuel efficiency for a lower model is about 150 miles per gallon, while the higher model is 85 mpg. All models have a 2-gallon-capacity tank.
Cpl. Mark Crissinger, with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office traffic unit, said there are specific regulations for mopeds.
“Mopeds can’t be more than a 2 brake horsepower on 50cc, and no more than three wheels,” Crissinger said. “If you have a suspended license, you can’t operate any motor vehicles on public roads, including mopeds.”
Crissinger said the only exceptions would be mobility devices and golf carts, which don’t exceed 35 mph. Only pedal-powered vehicles are allowed on the sidewalk.
“Mopeds have to be one speed, no clutching or shifting of speeds,” he said. “Anybody who operates above 50cc must have an endorsement and (an appropriate) license.”
Crissinger advised those who operate vehicles like the ScootCoupe to stick to lower-speed areas.
For more information about ScootCoupes, go to http://www.scootcoupe.com.
For Englewood Florida Scooters, call 410-491-1975.