Are you on the fence about buying an electric scooter and scrapping your daily driver? If your commute isn't too far, you could wind up saving a ton of money.
In the following sections, you’ll learn how much money you can save, how to calculate your own savings, and how to optimize your battery’s range.
Before that, let’s talk about what an electric commuter scooter is.
In the world of electric scooters, the commuter option is built for, well, commuting. They are designed and manufactured to act as a replacement for public transportation and driving your car to work.
Do they actually do what they’re designed to do? That’s what this article is all about.
Keep in mind, a lot of electric scooters aren’t capable to be replacements for your daily driver. Only commuter scooters have what it takes. We’re not going to explain what to look for in a commuter scooter, it’s just worth pointing out the differences. They’re more comfortable to ride, easier to store and carry, and have a longer battery range.
For further reading on the matter, check out our guide to the top 10 best electric scooters for commuting.
The most common alternatives to using a commuter scooter are to use a gas-powered car or public transportation. For the majority of this piece, we’ll compare a car with an electric scooter. Stay tuned at the very end for a quick comparison with public transportation.
Keep in mind, these examples only work for people who live a certain distance away from work. Too close and you could simply walk, too far and you might be outside of your electric scooter’s battery range. More on that later.
Saving money is the name of the game with electric scooters. There are a number of categories that you’ll see savings when you compare them to a gas-powered car. Let’s explore some of these categories.
The first thing to talk about is the upfront costs associated with either of these vehicles. When you’re buying a car, it isn’t shocking to sign a contract for 20, 30, even 40 thousand dollars. That’s a lot of money.
For an electric scooter, you can expect to pay no more than $500-$2000 (depending on your needs). If you’re seeing dollar signs right now, you can push back your eye doctor appointment. That’s an immediate savings of tens of thousands of dollars.
But wait, there’s more.
If you own and operate a car, you know all about car insurance. This is a monthly bill of a few hundred dollars. That means a couple of thousand dollars a year.
Scooter insurance costs less than a tenth of this. Yet another win for the electric scooter.
This is where things get interesting – the price per mile. This category is really easy to compare side-by-side. When you look at the price of commercial electricity versus a gallon of gasoline, things swing even more to the side of the electric scooter.
For a gas-powered car, you’ll pay nearly 30 times more per mile. In a second, we’ll show you how we did the math. Chalk this one up for the electric scooter.
Personal finance experts say that a car is the most common money dump that the everyday person has. This is thanks to a thing called “depreciation”. Depreciation is the idea of an item losing value from the second you purchase it. You can find something’s depreciation by subtracting how much you can sell it for used and how much you bought it for new.
The car industry is built around depreciation. Once you drive the car off the lot, 9-11% of its total value is now gone since it’s a used car. In fact, every year that you own a car, you experience even more depreciation.
Within 5 years, most cars are worth about half (or less) of what they started as. Your $40,000 car is now $20,000. In other words, you just lost $20,000 simply by owning and driving a car.
Electric scooters don’t suffer the same fate since the order of magnitude is so much smaller. A 50% loss on a $1,000 electric scooter doesn’t sting nearly as much. Plus, repairing an electric scooter to bring it back to “like-new” condition is pretty cheap.
That’s another win for the electric scooter.
Did you remember to rotate your electric scooter’s tires, change the oil, replace the transmission, and repair the clutch? No? That’s probably because these hidden maintenance costs only exist for a gas-powered car.
These bits of maintenance quickly add up when you’re trying to keep your car alive. It’s not rare to get a bill from the mechanic for thousands of dollars. If you get the same bill for your $750 electric scooter, you’ll tell them to keep the scooter and you can go buy a new one.
Simply put – the costs of maintenance on an e-scooter are much lower.
Some people have to pay for a parking pass to keep their car parked on the premises at work. This is common in cities across the country. In places like New York City, these passes can cost up to $2.50 an hour. For a standard 40-hour workweek, that’s another $100 a week.
Since commuter scooters can be easily carried and stored, you don’t have to worry about this.
In the next section, you’ll learn how to calculate these values yourself. In the meantime, we’ll show you the math that we promised earlier.
This is a case study that highlights our calculated savings for riding an electric scooter instead of driving a gas-powered car.
The average price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) is $0.13 in the US. This is a measure of energy that is used to charge your electric scooter at your house. In other words, this is the price you’re paying to charge your electric scooter.
We started with a Turboant X7 Pro scooter which is an affordable electric scooter. According to manufacturing specs, it has a 36V, 10Ah battery. Those are Volts and amp-Hours, more electrical talk. If you multiply the two together, you get watt-hours which might look familiar from the previous paragraph. That’s right – divide it by a thousand and you get kWh.
36 times 10 divided by 1,000 is 0.36 kWh. What does this mean? That’s how much energy goes into a full charge of your battery.
Let’s grab this number and multiply it by the average price of a kWh in your house. 0.36 kWh times $0.13/kWh is $0.0468 for a full battery charge.
For the sake of simplicity, that’s 4.7 cents to fully charge your battery. Go to the gas station with 4.7 cents and see how much gas you can get!
Let’s take that 4.7 cents and break it down a little further. After all, that’s the price for a full charge – what’s the price per mile?
That same Turboant X7 Pro e-scooter has a range of 15.2 miles in real-world riding. Note: This came from our study which we’ll detail later on.
Take that 4.7 cents and divide it by 15.2 miles to give you a price per mile. In this case, it works out to $0.00308/mile. That’s 0.3 cents a mile! 3 cents for 10 miles, 30 cents for 100 miles, 3 dollars for 1,000 miles – however, you want to say it, it’s an insanely small price to pay.
So now we need to find out what your price per mile is in a conventional car. You’ll have a better idea of these figures based on your usage, car, and gas prices in your area. We used average values for our math.
AAA says that the average price of gas per gallon is $2.16 (as of December 2020). The EPA says that the average miles per gallon (mpg) of cars sold in the US is 25.1 mpg.
To get to a price per mile, we just need to use these two values. Divide the price per gallon by the miles per gallon. $2.16/gallon / 25.1 miles/gallon = $0.086/mile.
From our math with electric scooters, we found that they cost $0.003/mile. Gas-powered cars cost $0.086/mile.
If you find the ratio between these two, it’s a 28.67:1 ratio. That means it’s about 29 times more expensive to fuel a gas-powered car per mile. Transversely, it’s about 29 times less expensive to use an e-scooter.
This concept only applies to certain situations. If your commute involves a highway that doesn’t have a bike lane, you won’t be able to use an electric scooter.
In general, if there’s anything stopping you from physically (or legally) riding an electric scooter to work, then you won’t be able to use these ideas.
On top of that, if your electric scooter’s range isn’t big enough, then you won’t be able to make the commute. If your office is 5 miles away and your electric scooter’s battery can take you 8 miles, then you’ll be walking the extra miles home.
Before buying an electric scooter and selling your car, it’s worth doing some homework.
You’ve seen our math, now it’s time to do your own. In this section, you’ll learn exactly how to calculate your personal savings.
You can use our calculator to find out how much money you’ll save riding an electric scooter. Keep in mind, this calculator does not take maintenance costs, insurances and similar expenses into account. It only accounts for what you pay per mile you travel.
First, you need to determine the battery capacity of your e-scooter. In most cases, this data is available from the retailer or manufacturer. If not, you can calculate it using the battery voltage (V) and amp-hours (Ah).
Now, fill in all the data fields below to get the final calculations.
If there are any of the data fields you're unsure about what means, read the manual steps below to get a better understanding of how to acquire the right numbers for your use case.
Alternatively, just follow these easy steps.
This is the bucket where all of your current commuting expenses go. A few of them were highlighted earlier like your insurance, gas mileage, miles a day, price per mile, depreciation, upfront costs, maintenance, and parking pass.
If you have additional costs that aren’t captured in this list, they’ll get added in this part.
For reference, AAA found that all of these costs work out to an average of around $8,500 a year for the typical driver. $5,700 of that alone was annual depreciation.
Whatever your calculated value is, keep that handy as we move to step 2.
In order to calculate your savings, you need to know your electric scooter’s range. If you already tested your scooter in real-world conditions, use this number. If not, skip this step until you learn how to run your own electric scooter range test in a later section.
We’ll take this number with us to step 3.
Just like we did earlier, it’s time to do some math about your electric scooter costs. Again, this will contain the cost of your scooter, miles per charge, cost per mile, and maintenance costs.
In most cases, you should find your annual cost to own and operate an e-scooter to be under $500 – potentially as low as $100.
Take your final number from step 1 and subtract your final number from step 3. In this general case, we take $8,500 and subtract $500.
We’re left with an annual saving of $8,000. That means every 5 years, you’re saving an average of $40,000 by strictly riding your e-scooter to work and dumping your car.
Before finding out how to run your own electric scooter range test, we want to tell you why this figure won’t match the manufacturer’s specs.
When they test these batteries, they’re using a lab setting. It’s the same situation when a car manufacturer does an EPA test on their rated miles per gallon. They’ll take the car to a controlled environment and run it in ideal conditions.
Have you ever used a car and matched up with the crazy-high EPA-rated miles per gallon figure? You might be as much as 10 miles per gallon lower than they rated the car.
The same thing is true in an e-scooter rating, but smaller changes can have bigger impacts here.
Tire pressure is something that many people dismiss when it comes to riding a commuter scooter regularly. A tire that’s flatter than it should be, takes more power to drive your normal route.
Having manufacturer-suggest tire pressure on your tires will boost your overall range. Don’t believe us? Drive your scooter until you use half of the battery’s range. Deflate the tires down to 25 psi each and try to make your way back home. Hopefully, you have Uber on your phone or you’re not afraid to walk the extra miles.
Also read: Ultimate Guide to Electric Scooter Tires
If you’re an aggressive rider on your electric scooter, you can expect not to go as far on a charge. Riding the accelerator hard is a quick way to drain your battery.
If you have a lot of hills, bumps, and rough terrain, you can expect to get fewer miles per charge. Terrain will interfere with how much energy is used by your motor and what kind of strain is seen by your battery.
Not to sound like your rude aunt at Thanksgiving, but your weight also plays a factor here. Heavier riders can get fewer miles out of a fully-charged battery. From the perspective of your electric scooter, the motor and tires are seeing a bigger load which puts a bigger strain on the battery.
We’re not judging, and neither is your e-scooter! It’s just something worth mentioning.
The one downside of electronics is that the battery will slowly die over time. It’s no different than your phone which seems to die so much faster after a year of use.
When batteries get hot, their total capacity diminishes. Every 2 to 4 years you can expect your electric scooter to be due for a new battery.
During that time, the total amount of miles per charge you’ll get will go down. You might start at 15 miles per charge, but that number can go down to 10 pretty easily.
If you were a little lost in step 2 earlier, this is where you’ll get some clarity. You can run your own e-scooter range test to figure out exactly how many miles a fully charged battery can take you.
This will put the previously-discussed factors to the test. In other words, your weight, terrain, capacity, riding style, and tire pressure are going to hit the asphalt and tell you what your true battery’s range is.
The first step is to get everything in order. Fully-charge your e-scooter and put on the gear that you’d normally put on. You want to perfectly emulate a normal commute.
Before you head out the door, try to figure out the exact distance between your home and your job. You can either use an online map service or you can find out while you ride with a smartwatch or GPS-enabled device.
You’ll want to conduct this test on your commute path so the final math you do is more accurate.
With everything in order, it’s time to ride. Ride to work and back continually until your battery completely dies. Keep track of how many times you completed the commute and mark exactly where the scooter died.
Use this mark and calculate how far away from your home you are.
Now, simply add up the numbers. If your commute is 3.5 miles one way and you went to work and back 2 times before the scooter died 1.0 miles away from your house, the math is easy.
3.5 miles times 2 times 2 plus 1.0 is 15.0 miles. This is your total range from one test.
No experiment is done after just one test. You’ll want to repeat steps 1-5 at least 2 times before you can arrive at a usable number. Our suggestion is to have 5 ranges from 5 tests. We know this is a lot of effort but you can incorporate it into your actual commutes.
Take the average of the numbers you collect. In case you don’t remember, you can find an average by adding up all the total ranges and dividing that total by how many tests you did.
For example, if we ran 3 tests and arrived at ranges of 15.0, 15.2, and 15.4, we would find the total by adding the three and getting 45.6. Divide that number by 3 to get an average of 15.2 total miles.
We told you in the beginning that you can expect a quick comparison between an electric scooter and public transportation – well, here it is!
As we all know, time is money. How valuable is your time? If you stick with public transportation, you’ll feel like your time is pretty worthless.
Every subway and bus is going to be inevitably late. This means being late to work and getting an earful from your boss.
Alternatively, it means waking up 30 to 60 minutes earlier so you can account for this annoyance of public transportation.
Electric scooters don’t have the same problem. As long as you charged it, it’s ready to go when you are. All aboard!
Unless you’re an insane collector, you’re not going to be purchasing a subway, bus, or train. The cost associated with public transportation revolves around buying a ticket for a one-way ride. In the following examples, we’ll talk about a 5-mile commute in NYC.
If you’re in New York City, you’ll be using a MetroCard. As every New Yorker knows, this will run you $2.75 for a one-way ride. A workweek has 10 one-way rides which equate to $27.5 a week.
Depending on how far your ride is, the one-way price of a bus varies. For a 5-mile commute, the price is about $2.5. This works out to $25 a week.
Taking a ride in a rideshare in NYC will run you about $3 a mile – higher during rush hour and hot times in the city. But let’s be honest, every hour is rush hour in the city.
For a 5 mile one-way commute 10 times a week, this looks like $150 a week.
We talked about it earlier, but an electric scooter costs 0.3 cents a mile. For this same 5-mile one-way commute, 10 times a week, you’ll pay $0.15 weekly.
It is between 167 and 1,000 times cheaper to ride an e-scooter than commute in this situation.
The arrival and departure times of public transportation will define your morning commute. If you’re late for the arrival time, they leave without you.
It leads to some real inconvenience before you even get to work and start your day. With an e-scooter, you can leave when you want. You aren’t beholden to New York’s public transportation schedule.
Obviously, if you don’t live in an area that you can realistically use public transportation, this isn’t even a comparison. However, areas that do utilize public transportation are usually hot spots for people swapping their commute for an e-scooter.
Now you know all about how much money you can save by ditching your regular ways of commuting for an electric scooter. Run your own range test and calculate your own figures to see how much money you’re truly saving. As we just covered, electric scooters are almost always way more cost-efficient than a gas-powered car or public transportation.
Paul is an environmental engineer turned micromobility expert. With a mechanical background and hands-on experience with more than 150 personal electric vehicles, Strobel is one of the leading specialists in the PEV scene. He handles everything from technical guides on the inner workings of vehicles to industry development news.