Electric Scooter Versus The Car: Pros, Cons and Verdict

If you commute to work, or just fancy a fun way to get around, you might even be considering sustainable transport over a car. An electric scooter is an excellent example of sustainable transport and might be exactly what you need. Which is better though the car or an electric scooter.

We’re going to go through all the practicalities and perhaps the ideas you haven’t come across. Having both to allow your e-scooter to solve the last mile problem. The last mile problem is an issue that has been troubling city planners for a long time, and we believe that the electric scooter might just solve that problem.

The Costs of Electric Scooters and Cars

The first big price tag you’ll have to pay for your car and your electric scooter is getting one. We have looked into the pricing of electric scooters before, and we have found that spending between $350 and $500 will get you a great one. Not a super high-end scooter but one that can be considered average.

The average price of a car in America is currently estimated as being $35,285. Which is a significant amount more than an electric scooter. Now if you only use the car as a commuter you might well ask yourself is it worth it?

If though you have children to give a run too, regular trips away, or even taking family places then an electric scooter may have a few shortcomings for you there. A car will perhaps make more sense for the more significant outlay if this describes your life. You can though just use an electric scooter as sustainable travel for your commutes to work.

Depreciation of cars and e-scooters

Your electric scooter is generally expected to last a minimum of two years. If we take a $500 scooter, we can argue that it depreciates at the cost of $250 a year. Then in two years, our electric scooter is then worth nothing.

You probably don’t want to do this style of depreciation with your family car. Losing $17,500 a year would be a pretty tough process to go through. The AAA does though suggest that the average depreciation of an American car is $3000 per year.

They go on to further state that depreciation will be around 40% of your cost of running a car. There is a simple way to get around this problem. You would not want to buy a new car but buy a car that is a few years old. It will have now had the largest percentage of value taken off, and your depreciation figure should be less.

The costs of fueling

Cars are pretty fuel inefficient when compared to electric scooters. The average car weighs 4100 pounds. So before moving you, we need to use enough energy to move an object that weighs 4100 pounds. On average your car will weigh around 20x more than you, we can safely assume then that most of the energy a car uses is to move itself.

By contrast, the average e-scooter weighs 28 pounds, which means it weighs around 5x less than the average American. So, when you’re riding an electric scooter, the majority of the energy used is for moving you rather than your choice of transport.

Now say we power your car and your e-scooter with 1-kilowatt-hour of energy. We’re not using an electric car here we have just turned gasoline into 1-kilowatt-hour of energy. Your electric scooter will travel 82.8 miles on that amount of energy.

A car though will only make it to 0.8 miles. These stats make an e-scooter is then over 100x more fuel efficient than your car. That is a lot of cost savings for your household budget.

If we expand this over a year for 5 miles of daily travel (the average commute distance). We’ll find that fuel for your car will cost $185.10. The cost of your electric scooter will be $2.93. You’ll be paying 65x as much for your car’s fuel over the year.

If you have a commute of fewer than 5 miles and don’t need a car for family reasons, it would make a lot of environmental sense here to buy an e-scooter and get commuting. You’ll also find that 60% of trips made by car are under 5 miles in the USA. If we changed the majority of them to e-scooters or other forms of sustainable transport the world could be changed.

Cost of Production of electric scooters and cars

There is also a carbon footprint involved in manufacturing. The average family car costs the earth around 7 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Which will be released into the atmosphere.  An electric car releases around 8 tonnes, but over the course of its life, that figure will be subsumed by its lower running carbon footprint.

There are no figures for e-scooters, but sources suggest that one e-scooter would be under 1% of that total. You might not see the carbon cost, but if we can help everyone to breathe cleaner air, we should be working towards that.

What maintenance is needed?

Your new electric scooter will be almost maintenance free. Mainly you’ll want to wash your e-scooter fairly regularly, especially if you’ve been out in the rain. Keeping parts free for dirt and grime is a great way to keep your electric scooter working well.

On top of this, you’ll want to make sure your tires are free from debris. Then give your wheels a spin to make sure that your bearings are still running smoothly. If not it is fairly easy to clean then and put in some grease. The cost for this will be cents.

Your only other cost might be a new drive chain/belt annually. The cost then of maintenance of electric scooters is pretty negligible. You should also be able to do all the work by yourself and not have any cost implications there.

For the majority of people, we are going to assume that you take your car to a garage for servicing. If you can service it yourself, there will still be a cost in parts and your time, which for the purposes of this article we consider to be worth the same as a mechanics time. The AAA state that this cost is around $1200. One month of car maintenance is already more than the yearly total for an electric scooter.

Do I need insurance?

You won’t need to get your electric scooter insured, but you’ll definitely want to get your car insured. The average cost of annual insurance in America is $1300. That is a big chunk of change. You’ll definitely save a lot of money here if you only need an e-scooter and can ditch a car.

Can I lessen city traffic?

America has the world’s top two traffic-congested cities. Los Angeles tops the list, and New York is tied with Moscow for second place. There is also San Francisco, Atlanta, and Miami in the top 10. Cars can then be a bit of an issue if you live in these cities.

We all know the dangers of crossing the road without looking, but it is estimated in London that traffic fumes cause 10x as many fatalities as road accidents. Traffic is a silent killer. Sitting traffic and red lights cause your car to fill with deadly fumes.

Sitting in traffic is deadly

Now, you may feel like we’re using hyperbole above, but the particulate matter in the air we breathe is the 8th biggest killer in America. You might then want to shut your car windows and turn off your cars fan when sitting in traffic.

It has been estimated that when you’re in a car, not stuck in traffic, that 25% of your exposure to these particulates will occur at the 2% of the time you’re sitting at lights or junctions. So we can see if you keep moving you can lower your exposure to particulates.

Your electric scooter doesn’t give out exhaust fumes. We can take from this that your e-scooter will then be safer for the rest of the public. If your skilled riding your electric scooter you can filter through traffic and avoid red lights. You’ll be lowering your intake of exhaust particulates.

There is also the simple point of if you’re riding your electric scooter there is one less car in traffic.

The last mile problem

The last mile problem was an issue that originally came from the telecommunications industry and later came to be a transportation issue. When it became a transportation issue, it was about getting people from a transportation hub, railway, bus stations, to their final destination. When talking about from a transportation hub, we could also ascribe it the other way, getting from your house to the transportation hub.

The problem was the reason why many people took to driving cars as it was more practical. The issue now is that if you park in a city, you might still be a mile or so from your work. These issues are caused by the way land has been used and designed; car parks were less profitable than putting up more shops or office blocks.

We are now seeing urban reform, with cities putting in cycle lanes, bike and scooter sharing platforms, and removing traffic from certain areas. All of these new reforms will make getting about electric scooter easier and will penalise car ownership. You might as well jump the gun and start living the way urban planners want us to now.

Should I have a car and an electric scooter?

If you live out in the suburbs or further out, owning both might be a successful solution to the last mile problem. An electric scooter is easily foldable and can fit in a small space. It should be able to fit in the trunk of most cars, or even in your passenger seat.

You can then cover the mileage to a city and then before you hit traffic you can park up and use your electric scooter. As we said above, you’ll be making the traffic one car smaller. You may also now be able to cover the final mile more rapidly than you would if you were in your car.

Most places of work should have a place for you to store your electric scooter at work safely. You’ll be able to cut through most of the traffic on the way back to your car and home. That must be a better idea than leaving work to sit in your car inhaling a lot of exhaust particulates?

If you live in a city I would exchange my car for an electric scooter. The electric scooter will be able to help me with all my daily chores and getting to work. When I need to go somewhere further afield there will be public transport that I can use. By living this way I’ll be lower my living costs and my carbon footprint.

Electric scooter pros and cons

Pros Cons
Cheap to buy You can’t take the kids out
Cheap to run No weather protection
Virtually no pollution Limited mileage range on one charge
Helps solve the last mile problem Slower than a car in traffic-free environments
Faster than in a car in traffic
Almost maintenance free


Cars pros and cons

Pros Cons
Can cover large distances Expensive
Can take the family out Needs insurance
Weather protection Heavy polluter
  Last mile problem
  Will need qualified maintenance


The verdict

As you can see, there is a lot of pluses and minuses for both cars and electric scooters. If I were you and I lived within 5 miles of work I’d own an electric scooter. For people who live a distance from their work, I’d own both a car and an electric scooter. I’d take the car to a car park near work and then use an electric scooter to go the final distance.

There may be an increased cost of owning both a car and an electric scooter, rather than just 1 of them. You’ll find though that by missing the final bit of stress on the way to work, you’ll be a happier person when you arrive. Then when you leave, you’ll be happier that you’re not just going straight into a traffic jam.

Make the world a better place one scoot at a time.