BETHEL — For Bethel Village residents puzzled last week to see men on scooters riding round and round the Broad Street/Paradise Road/Vernon Street/Main Street loop, the mystery is solved.
A team of 12 engineers and other staff from the Vectrix electric scooter company of New Bedford, Mass., were in town to test one of their new designs, said Dana DeCosta, manager of field services and logistics.
The company develops scooters in cooperation with a European partner, he said. Most of the scooters are sold in Europe and are used for commuting. "For every two we sell in Europe, we sell one in the United States," he said.
The vehicles range in size from large (equivalent of a 400 cc gas-powered motorcycle; top speed 68 mph) to small (equivalent of 50 cc bike; 30 mph)
And they are developing a new mid-size scooter.
Why did the team choose Bethel to test it?
They first came to the area last winter because they needed a place where temperatures were consistently 20 degrees or below to test performance in those conditions
DeCosta is a native of Mechanic Falls, and he originally suggested the Auburn area to his team. But on arrival they found the temperatures weren't quite as low as what they needed. So they headed north.
"It was colder here," he said.
They proceeded to test the scooter by driving it around Bethel Village and out on Route 2. It performed to expectations.
When warm weather rolled around, the team decided to return to test it in the same road conditions, with the only variable being the weather.
DeCosta said the team had been all over the country for its tests, including Death Valley in California for the extreme heat.
But, he said, "This is the first place we've come to twice."