The 1p Per Mile Electric Scooter vs The Car: Pros & Cons
Electric scooters are becoming a popular choice worldwide for travelling. Still, will they ever really replace a car for commuting?
Now we are living through a cost-of-living crisis, and the effects of climate change are becoming more visible in the world we live in. People are looking for different ways to help with their daily commute, and we're not talking about a second car.
The rise of personal electric vehicles has been heavily reported since the introduction of electric scooters to the mass market. Recently, despite a slight slowdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, uptake has been rising exponentially yearly.
Suppose you commute to work or fancy a different way to get around. If that's the case, you might consider alternative transport over a car. The electric scooter is an excellent example of sustainable transport and might suit your needs.
Which is better? The car or an electric scooter?
According to the latest government report, cars are responsible for 67.7 million tonnes of CO2e per year. Even with the ongoing rental trial, e-scooters only make up a tiny fraction of road transport. There's no way to calculate their carbon emissions now; however, it's believed it will be much lower than cars.
Suppose private e-scooters were legalised and reached the same popularity that cars currently enjoy. In that case, they'd still only be responsible for 21.1 million tonnes of CO2e per year.
With this in mind, the best environmental benefit is that e-scooters release far fewer emissions than cars, making them better for the environment in the long term. According to Carbon Independent and NimbleFins, cars release 369g of CO2e per mile, while e-scooters release a fraction of that amount.
This is 83% higher than the current 202g figure for e-scooters, and if privately owned scooters are allowed, cars will release 320% more CO2e per mile than e-scooters.
Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
An often overlooked benefit of an e-scooter is that it is healthier for you. Especially (like all exercises) if you use it regularly, for example, riding it week in, week out on the daily commute. Scooters require you to be standing when riding them, which we deprive ourselves by sitting at desks or on the sofas or often in the driving seat.
The standing position on a scooter requires you to engage your core. Because the suspension is less than a car's, your body will naturally tense to support itself as you negotiate bumps in the road. Much in the same way as how your body subconsciously stabilises when walking around.
Traffic is a silent killer. Traffic fumes are estimated to cause 10x as many fatalities as road accidents. Sitting in traffic and at red lights causes your car to fill with deadly fumes. When you travel, a quarter of your exposure will come from the 2% when sitting at lights or junctions.
Your electric scooter doesn't give out exhaust fumes. If you are skilled in riding your electric scooter, you can filter through traffic and avoid red lights. So we can see continuous movement lowers your exposure to pollutants.
Outright & Running Costs
The first considerable saving is purchasing an electric scooter outright. Spending between £300 and £500 will get you a reliable scooter with features to make the ride as smooth as possible. However, it may not be the perfect purchase if you have children who go to multiple after-school clubs or work from home.
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The average price of a car in the UK is between £12,000 - £28,000 depending on the make, model and spec. Which is a significant amount more than an electric scooter.
Cars are fuel inefficient when compared to electric scooters. The average car weighs 1860 kg. On average, your car will weigh around 20x more than you; we can safely assume that most energy a vehicle uses is to move. By contrast, the average e-scooter weighs 16 - 20 kg, weighing around 5x less than the average human. When riding an electric scooter, most of the battery power is for moving you rather than kick the scooter into moving.
Charging up a scooter doesn't cost the earth either compared to eye water prices at the petrol stations, with an average litre of fuel averaging 176.63p for petrol and 180.28p for diesel.
In the UK, it costs between 10p - 30p to fully charge an e-scooter in the UK, in 2022, which is pretty impressive. If your e-scooter has a range around 30 miles, you're looking at 1p per mile or less.
The Pure Air Pro Gen 1 for example. This has a 350 Wh battery. The UK's average electricity rate is 34.04p per kWh, based on the standard variable tariffs. It would cost around 10.28p to fully charge, meaning you can re-charge your Pure Air Pro approximately 17 times for the price of 1 litre unleaded.
If you commute less than 5 miles and don't need a car for family reasons, it would makes a lot of sense to buy an e-scooter. You'll also find that 60% of trips made by car are under 5 miles. If we changed the majority of them to e-scooters or other forms of sustainable transport, the world could be changed.
Your new electric scooter will be almost maintenance-free. Mainly you'll want to wash your e-scooter regularly, especially if you've been out in the rain. We also recommend at every opportunity to keep your electric scooter battery charged.
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On top of this, you'll want to ensure your tyres are debris-free. Then give your wheels a spin to ensure that your bearings are still running smoothly; this is pretty easy to do with a bit of grease.
Everyone takes their car to a garage for its yearly service and MOT. If you can service it yourself, there will still be a cost in parts; however, for many, it will be how much the garage charges for that service. One month of car maintenance could be more than the outright purchase of the scooter.
Rental e-scooters require a driving license to ride on the roads. Currently, privately owned scooters are banned on UK roads. They are only allowed to be driven on privately owned land with the land owner's permission; however, this could change after the e-scooter trials.
On top of that, insurance, is one of the most significant expenditures for car drivers. Besides keeping on top of the battery, there is very little maintenance and annual servicing are to be undertaken at your discretion for an e-scooter.
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The last mile problem is now the new transportation issue. It's about getting people from a transportation hub, railway, or bus station, to their final destination. It could also be seen getting from your house to the transportation hub.
The problem was why we drive cars, as it is more practical. The issue is that if you park in a city, you might still be a mile away from work. Cities are penalise car ownership, with ULEZ / clean air zones, which majority are now live.
We are now seeing new cycle lanes, bike and scooter sharing platforms, and cities removing traffic from specific areas. All of these new developments will make getting about on an electric scooters easier.
Electric Scooter Pros & Cons
- Inexpensive to buy
- Cheap to charge
- Virtually no pollution
- Faster than in a car in traffic
- Limited to 15.5mph
- Limited mileage range on one battery charge
- Single person riding
Cars Pros & Cons
- Cover large distances across town
- Take passengers to the same location
- Carry luggage or large work equipment to work
- ULEZ / clean air zones charges (must be compliant with cities clean air regulation to pass through freely)
- Expensive to maintain, insure and run
- Last mile problem (car park maybe a few miles away)
There are pros and cons for cars and electric scooters. Living in the centre of the city or within 5 miles, the electric scooter works best for commuting and errands without having to fork out for insurance, fuel and finding a ULEZ-compliant car.
There are a lot of reasons why people choose to get an e-scooter in place of a car for the commute: from saving time and money to doing their bit to protecting the environment. The fact is that people like what they're used to, and people can be stubborn, resisting to change, even when it benefits them.
However, we have seen the uptake of e-scooters increasing consistently around the world, especially with younger people, so there is definitely movement. As for how long it will take for a complete replacement to happen, we'll have to wait and see.