With demand for electric bicycles skyrocketing following the recent surge in gasoline prices, many shops in Hanoi and HCM City have run out of stock.
Nguyen Thuy Ha, a Hanoi student, said she sold her Honda Wave Alpha motorbike to buy an electric bike.
For 5,000 dong to charge the battery she can ride 40 kilometres, Ha said, adding the switch would save her 500,000 dong per month.
Duy Khang, a retail shop in Hanoi selling Asama, a Taiwanese electric bike, said last week sales were four times the pre-petrol hike figure.
It has ordered more bikes from Asama but the factory is unable to manufacture enough to meet the demand, the shop added.
Phuong Diep, another shop on Hanoi’s Ba Trieu Street, said its electric bicycle stocks had sold out in the last few days and only conventional and children’s bikes are available now.
Many parents planning to buy motorbikes for their children now choose electric bikes, the shop owner said.
Tran Huy Tu of Ha Tay Province said since electric bikes were rare at local shops he had to go to neighbouring Hanoi to buy an Asama.
But the price of his bike was 6.8 million dong while just two days earlier his friend had paid 6.3 million dong for the same model, Tu said.
A shop on Nguyen Luong Bang Street said electric bicycle prices were shooting up due to the spike in demand.
In HCM City too, the demand for electric bikes has caught many dealers by surprise.
A shop on Vo Thi Sau Street in District 3, for instance, said it sold around 40 bikes within two hours after they were delivered by Asama.
Customers, mostly middle-aged, could leave their phone numbers and be contacted when fresh stocks arrived, a salesperson said, adding the shop did not take deposits.
The bestsellers are bikes produced jointly by Vietnamese and Taiwanese companies and priced at 4.95 million dong or 5.75 million dong depending on the size of their tires, he said.
Some new models have appeared recently with a capacity to carry a load of 86 kilograms.
Electric scooters are also in favour among people looking to economise on fuel.
According to manufacturers, these scooters can run around 60-80 kilometres on a full charge costing a mere 5,000-7,000 dong.
Electric scooters cost 3-6 million dong (US$179-358) more than electric bikes but unlike the latter they do not have pedals and people have to walk them when they run out of power.
Vo Van Van, deputy head of the HCM City Traffic Police, said the compulsory helmet law does not apply to electric bikes or electric scooters.
Nevertheless, riders should wear helmets for their own safety, he advised.
Though they can reach a speed of 40 kilometres per hour, electric scooters do not need to be registered either.
The price of 92-RON gasoline, the most common grade used in Vietnam, was raised to 19,000 dong a liter from 14,000 dong on July 21.