Can an electric scooter really replace a car for commuting?

8/17/2022

Can an electric scooter really replace a car for commuting?

Electric scooters are becoming a more and more popular choice around the world for traveling, but will they ever really replace a car for commuting?

With the prices of gas skyrocketing and the effects of climate change becoming more and more visible, many people are looking for a different vehicle for their daily commute, and we're not talking about a second car.

The rise in the uptake of personal electric vehicles is something that has been heavily reported on already since their introduction to the mass market in the past ten years. Recently though, besides a slight slowdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, uptake has been rising exponentially year on year.

Whether it's an electric scooter, electric bike, or even an electric skateboard, there are plenty of options becoming more popular and available to replace cars, especially in major cities. In fact, the electric scooter market in the US alone is already estimated to increase by a staggering 13.3% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next eight years to 2030.

What about an electric car?

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When it comes to sustainable transportation, there's no doubt that electric cars can be a great option for car drivers or those that have limited access to public transportation.

There are many benefits to hybrid and fully electric cars, for example, they require less maintenance, are cheaper to run, can carry more luggage, and have less of a carbon footprint.

Some of the new cars on the market offer a higher speed and range than the early models, meaning they have become a more convenient option than when electric cars first appeared.

However, they are still subject to many of the same downsides as regular cars, such as congestion, parking, and a very high initial investment to begin with. That is why many commuters are choosing to make car trips a thing of the past and invest in a micromobility vehicle, often, an electric scooter.

Why is an electric scooter a better transport choice than a car?

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From saving money to saving the environment, there are loads of reasons people are replacing car trips by choosing to ride electric scooters. The cost of living crisis has boomed in the past few years and driving is quite often one of people's biggest expenditures.

But with many trips just being to local destinations such as the office or the store, e scooters are becoming a choice alternative method of getting around.

Here we explore some of the reasons why:

Save lots of money compared to driving a car

An electric scooter costs a lot less than a car, both to buy and to run. So if you are primarily using your car for short trips such as the commute, swapping your regular vehicle for an e-scooter might be a very sensible choice to save money.

We all know how expensive buying a car is, especially if we're looking at new cars. In contrast, electric scooters cost a fraction of the price, and can still do the jobs that most cars are resigned to doing. It's becoming common to see people riding an electric scooter to do their grocery shopping!

Then there's the cost of running the vehicle itself. One research team worked out that it costs about $0.45 for a full charge on a high-capacity battery electric scooter with a range of 93 miles. For average usage, this works out to about $7.30 per year, making it much cheaper than even filling up one tank of gas. This all points to a calculation that about $1 of electricity can be good for upwards of 350-900 miles, something unimaginable to car drivers.

On top of that, there are also the massive combined costs of insurance, tax, and parking, none of which are mandatory for electric scooters whatsoever, making commuting on an electric scooter a very attractive prospect indeed.

Riding a scooter is healthier than driving a car

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An often overlooked benefit of an e scooter is that it is healthier for you, especially (like all exercise) if you use it regularly, for example riding it week in, week out on the daily commute.

Scooters require you to be in a standing position when riding them, which is something we deprive ourselves of too often, sitting at desks, on the sofas or in seats in cars.

The standing position requires you to engage your core, and because the suspension on a scooter is much less than that of a car, your body will naturally tense to support itself as it goes over bumps in the road. Much the same as how your body subconsciously stabilizes when you are walking around.

Efficiency reasons for choosing an electric scooter

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Shorten your commute

One key benefit that electric scooters have over cars is that they can really aid in shortening the time spent on your commute. Whether that's by supplementing, or completely avoiding public transport, changing from a daily drive to a daily ride can save time and lower costs.

Sometimes opting to take transportation isn't quite as convenient as we would like. For most people in offices in the city, driving to work in a car isn't an option, so an electric scooter could be a fantastic option for commuting.

Maybe you have to walk for half an hour to get to the train station in your town, so the hour on top of your actual train ride each day makes it a time-consuming option.

In this situation, you might have the option to take the tram or bus to the station, but that too can be inefficient and at the mercy of traffic. E scooter riders get to skip this whole ordeal by scooting straight to the train station, without having to find a parking spot or sit in traffic like they would have to in a car.

Furthermore, depending on the speed or distance of the public transportation that a person requires, an electric scooter might allow them to skip that altogether and just commute directly to work.

Improved accessibility

It doesn't take a genius to work out that a scooter can get to more places than a car, it's much smaller. It also fits into more places too, so no need to circle the block looking for parking.

One of the main benefits of electric scooters (and other personal electric vehicles) over a car on the commute, is that they don't always have to adhere to the normal road rules. Certain states allow them to be driven on sidewalks and bike lanes, and they can also whip through parks.

On top of that, scooters can be easily folded and carried directly into the workplace so you can slip yours under your desk when necessary.

Eco reasons to choose a scooter

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Lower your energy consumption

Energy prices have skyrocketed recently and they are showing no signs of slowing down. In addition to that, the world is heating up due to the amount of energy being used, emissions being released, and despite the claims of big oil, fossil fuels won't last forever.

We need sustainable road transport, and even governmental institutions like the EU have huge goals in place, like reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050.

Making the move from vehicles powered by fossil fuels massively reduces your carbon footprint and the amount of energy that you consume, so these government bodies are often offering tax subsidies for going electric, and penalties for vehicles with high emissions.

Moving to electric vehicles is a no-brainer to lower your energy consumption, but moving from an electric car to an e bike or an e scooter is an even smarter move.

One research report stated that e bikes and electric kick scooters save more than 90% (around 17 kWh/100 km per vehicle) of the energy consumed by electric passenger cars. That's one way to really lower your energy consumption overnight.

Reduce traffic congestion

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If we're going to collectively make an impact on the environment, everyone has to play their part in helping out. Air in cities is generally more polluted and unhealthier to breathe, and it's no wonder when you see lines of traffic snaking back for miles.

Car sharing is a great alternative but often isn't an option. If you choose to take an e scooter or e bike on the commute rather than a car, you'll naturally ease traffic congestion on the roads.

Avoid the hassle of license, registration and insurance

One of the biggest drawbacks to driving a car is all the hassle you need to do besides actually driving it. E scooters do not require a driving license to ride or any registration to be able to go on the roads. That means less cost and time spent versus using a personal car.

On top of that insurance, one of the biggest expenditures for car drivers, is completely voluntary. Besides keeping on top of the battery, there is very little maintenance to be done on e scooters, and tasks like annual servicing are to be undertaken at your own discretion.

Driving personal electric vehicles is more fun

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Now don't read it wrong, we're not saying that driving down an open highway with the wind going through your hair isn't amazing, of course it is, but how often do you do that on the commute?

We might be a bit biased here but sitting in traffic in the city on the way to work is much less fun than driving your own e scooter into the office, cutting through traffic and saving time and money whilst doing it.

Downsides of an electric scooter on the commute

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Nonetheless, there are a couple of downsides we thought of which might mean cars won't be replaced on the commute that quickly...

Heavy rain

Whilst a light drizzle isn't stopping anyone from getting on their scooter, a big storm could put some riders off, especially if they don't have a place to dry off at work.

Carrying equipment

Some people's jobs mean they have to carry lots of heavy and large equipment with them to work, such as videographers or quantity surveyors. Therefore they might not be able to change their mode of transportation, no matter how much they might want to.

Running out of charge

This downside is actually completely avoidable, especially these days with the large battery capacities and number of places to charge up. If you didn't plan ahead though or skipped a charge it could happen, but it's just as likely as running out of gas, not likely at all.

So, will electric scooters ever replace cars on the commute?

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There are tons of reasons why people are choosing to get an e scooter in place of a car for the commute: from saving time and money, to doing their bit to saving the environment.

The fact of the matter is that people like what they're used to, and some people can be stubbornly resistant to change, even when it benefits them.

However, we have seen the uptake of e scooters increasing consistently around the world and especially with younger people, so there is definitely movement. As for how long it will take for a full replacement to happen, we'll have to wait and see.

But as Bob Dylan sang: the times they are a-changin'.


Daniel Foley

Daniel Foley

Unagi Life
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