What is the True Cost of Owning an Electric Scooter?

If you’ve ever sat in traffic and wondered how much gas money you could save by riding your own electric scooter, then read on.

This article will give you the full breakdown of the cost of owning an electric scooter vs. the cost of owning and maintaining a car.

So you’ll be able to tell how much you would save buying an electric scooter, regardless of whether you ride a little or a lot. We’ll also find out how many car miles/kilometers you’d need to replace with scooter miles/kilometers for the electric scooter to pay for itself.

Plus, we’ll cover everything you need to know to start riding.

Let’s dive in.

Why an E-Scooter?

Apollo City Pro Review: Most Integrated Scooter of 2022 » Electric Scooter  Guide

If you’re considering buying an e-scooter, we should point out: that you don’t need to give up your car, train, or bus ride to save money. Adding a scooter to any commute will instantly make it better, faster, and way more fun.

A foldable e-scooter (i.e., most models), when paired with a commute on a bus or train, will expand your mobility, covering the distance between the station stops and where you want to go. An e-scooter makes for the perfect last mile/kilometer solution, reducing the impact of delays or removing the headache. 

Likewise, a scooter folded into the trunk of your car can increase your travel options too.  For example, if you’re driving to a place that has limited or expensive parking, you can park your car several miles (kilometers) out of your destination-a place where the parking situation is perhaps a little more forgiving, and then ride your scooter the final few miles/kilometers. 

Charging Cost vs. Gas

True Cost of Owning an Electric Scooter?

Let’s start with the simplest comparison, charging cost vs. gas. It turns out charging electric scooters is shockingly cheap.

How cheap?

Well, to put it into perspective, riding a scooter is about 200 times cheaper than walking…

Walking

One Big Mac: $3.99, 563 Calories

Walking consumes 103 calories per mile or 64 calories per km. Food cost =$0.73 per mi or $0.45per km.

Scooting

Scooter charging cost = $0.0035 per mi= $ 0.00217 per Km

$0.73 /0.0035 or $0.45 /0.00217 = scooting is around 209 times cheaper than walking.

And if you need another incentive, scooters will get you where you need to go five times faster than walking.

Electric Scooter Cost vs. a Car

Mile-for-mile, scooters are a far cheaper means of personal transport than gas-powered automobiles.

Hiboy S2

As an example, let’s use the best-selling entry-level scooter, Hiboy S2, with performance specs representative of most mass-market scooters. 

This cheap electric scooter costs about $600. It has a top speed of 19 mph and a range of 13 mi, according to our own road tests. 

This means that it will haul you 286 mi for $1, (assuming it costs you just $0.04 of electricity to charge it fully.)

Hiboy Reviews

ICE Car

By comparison, in California, where the price of gas is around $6/gallon, or $1.59/liter, the average internal combustion engine (ICE) car will only transport you 3 miles per $1 spent at the pump. 

Even adjusting for pre-oil shortage prices, a car will generally move you 6 miles per $1 spent.

Not everyone wants to buy a performance scooter; the majority of scooters are used for commuting, after all. But say, hypothetically speaking, you wanted to ride a scooter with a little more gusto than the S2. 

Kaabo Wolf Warrior GT Pro

Kaabo Wolf Warrior GT Pro

Let’s say, you wanted to ride the world’s fastest production scooter, the Kaabo Wolf Warrior GT Pro, for example–a rocket ship of an electric scooter which costs about $3,200 (an expensive electric scooter, but way cheaper than the average car).

Now, we all know that more power means more power consumption. But even at a top speed of 61 mph and an ESG-certified range of 55 mi, the Wolf’s powerful motors will STILL transport you 133 mi for only $1.

Granted, that’s half as efficient as the entry-level Hiboy S2 but still exponentially more cost-efficient than ICE cars. 

But, because typical commute scooters are more like the S2 than the big GT Pro, we’ll use the S2’s numbers to calculate how much we save as we go along.

Riding an Electric Scooter Is Cheaper Than Driving a Car

The average car in the US gets 25 miles to the gallon. So with the average US price for gas currently at $4.25/gallon, $1 will buy you 6 miles.

So in terms of fuel cost, dollar for dollar, a scooter will go 49 times further than the average car, but obviously, there’s more to it, including time spent charging/refueling.

Cost of Commuting on a Scooter vs. Driving

The average US driver spends $619 a year on gas (pre-oil price crisis) commuting. 

In contrast, the exact same annual commute mileage on an electric scooter would come out at an annual charging cost of only $13. 

This net differential alone would be enough to pay off the purchase price of a high-quality electric scooter.

That’s right. You don’t need to buy the cheapest electric scooter, and you’ll still save money scooting your commute rather than driving.

Gas Savings Breakdown

Gas Savings Breakdown

Fuel cost for car: 17 cents per mi or 11 cents per km
Electricity for Scooter = 0.35 cents per mi or 0.22 cents per km

Gas savings of riding a scooter = 16.6 cents per mi or 10.31 cents per km

Cost of Depreciation and Repairs

Let’s take a look at the costs of depreciation and repairs for each option:

Cost of Owning a Car

Cost of Owning a Car

The average depreciation and repair cost for cars in the US is roughly $1,085 per year, just for commuting miles and kilometers.

While you may not necessarily feel that pain every time you fill up, the costs of owning a car are very real.

What types of things do these costs cover? Well, things like oil changes, services, and simple car depreciation (you may not physically spend money on this, but it still costs you).

And that’s before factoring in that spare parts (cars have many) are currently in short supply. A transmission replacement alone costs upwards of $2,000.

Cost of Owning an Electric Scooter

Apollo Air 2022

Now, unlike ICE cars, annual depreciation and repairs for the typical electric scooter e.g. the Hiboy S2, only cost $180 for the same number of miles/kilometers. 

This figure can go down even further if you do basic repairs like tire changes yourself.  And unlike cars, electric scooters are way less complex, so the average Joe with a drill and wrench set can save a lot on repair shop fees by doing DIY repair work and simple scooter troubleshoots.

But what if you don’t ride that much? How many car miles do you need to replace with scooter miles just to make the scooter pay for itself?

You’ll need to ride roughly 1,214 miles to cover the cost of buying an electric scooter. This may sound like a lot, but throughout an E-scooters five-year lifespan, that’s only 5 miles a week which is less than 1.0 mile per workday.

So, if you can replace one car mile every workday, your scooter is paying for itself, and we haven’t even added the cost of parking or parking tickets yet.

Cost Savings Pay for the Scooter:

Depreciation and repairs savings = 24.6 cents/mile or 15.29 cents/km

Fuel savings = 16.6 cents/mile or 10.31 cents/km

Total savings per mile (before parking) = 41.2 cents/mile or 25.60 cents/Km

Cost Savings Pay for the Scooter:41.2 cents/mile( 25.60 cents/km) x 1214 miles = $500 scooter

Cost of Car Insurance

Car insurance

Another additional cost for car owners comes from car insurance, which is required in much of the Western world. 

The average American is charged $785 a year for a minimum coverage policy (let alone a comprehensive policy for things like theft), according to LendingTree’s ValuePenguin.

If you’re a lucky driver, you won’t need to file a claim, which means that $785 will be going down the toilet. 

If you file a successful claim after a crash, your policy will oftentimes still require that you pay hundreds of dollars in deductibles. 

While your car is being repaired, renting a car to substitute for it will set you back several hundred dollars more. 

In contrast, e-scooter and electric bikes are available to rent in most large and mid-sized cities for a fraction of the cost of car rentals, should something happen to your personal vehicle. 

Or, you could just invest in a cheap electric scooter for use on proverbial rainy days.

Car Parking vs. Scooter Parking

Free photos of Electric scooters

One of the greatest benefits of owning a scooter is in terms of free parking. 

You can park your scooter on the sidewalk, at a park, in an alleyway, or at your workplace or home.  The main impediment will be finding somewhere that has a secure fixture for looping a bike lock. 

By contrast, car parking is prohibitively expensive. The average American city-dweller spends $18 per day, $191 per month, or $2,292 a year in parking fees.

But if you own an e-scooter, all you have to do is park your car (for free) in a neighborhood within a few miles/kilometers of work and scoot the last mile/kilometer into the office.

So, now we’ve saved $606 in fuel, $905 in depreciation, and if you work in a big city, $2,292 in parking. So, we’ve just used a $500 scooter to save $3,803 a year.

What Makes Electric Scooters Such Great Value

Electric scooters

To recap, e-scooters are fun, safe, super portable, and increasingly trendy. Perhaps most appealingly, they are much cheaper to buy, run, and maintain than gas-powered cars.

If you’re an average US car owner, you should expect to pay $4,789 a year in typical gas consumption and other costs. 

In contrast, buying a $600 scooter and typical maintenance expenses and electricity consumption would only cost you $793 in the first year. 

So you could expect to save $3,996 in your first year of investing in an entry-level, new scooter. 

Electric scooters’ cost impacts are truly a speck compared to the costs of a car.

If one were to cap the lifespan of a scooter at five years, you would save $1,565 over the duration of your scooter ownership, really getting the most of your electric scooters’ worth.

This is, of course, to say nothing of the upfront cost of purchasing a car – tens of thousands of dollars for a typical commuter sedan or SUV. 

Finally, with gas imports becoming increasingly expensive due to supply chain bottlenecks and geopolitical instability, this gap will only continue to grow. 

In the long term, electric scooters are not only green alternatives that will help to save the environment; they will save you money as well over at least a few years.

How to find a Cheap Electric Scooter

So, if you want to get started, you’ll need a scooter, but there are a ton of scooters out there. The quickest way to find the scooter that’s going to fit you and your commute is to search the ESG database.

Turn on the filters, put in your specs, and then you can sort by price.

You can weigh the pros and cons of expensive scooters versus cheaper models: extra features, more range, IP rating (the degree to which it’s water resistant, invaluable knowledge if you plan on riding in bad weather), disc brakes, etc.

Many scooters listed in the directory have clickable links to our written and YouTube video reviews. 

If you click on the dollar-sign symbol, you can find the cheapest place to buy a given scooter, an easy way to save money on even the most expensive scooter. 

By toggling on the “Test ESG Performance Data” option, you get access to the world’s most comprehensive set of performance data on many of the most popular electric scooters. Every ESG test was conducted in the exact same way, on the exact same range course. 

Did you know: Most scooters will only cover 65 to 80% of the manufacturer’s claimed range before shutting down?

The ESG Performance Data will show you exactly how long a given scooter will last per charge, thus giving you a clearer picture of what you can expect from your scooter before buying it.

Electric Scooter Guide will help you sort through affordable scooters, right up to the most expensive electric scooter. ESG has personally tested many of the most popular scooters, from the premier electric scooter manufacturer NAMI to the more pedestrian Bird Scooter.

Save Money and Rent an E-scooter

Unagi Model One

If you want to go 100% maintenance-free, some manufacturers even offer monthly scooter subscriptions.

If something goes wrong they typically just swap out the scooter for another one and you’re back on the road.

Right now Unagi is the only company uniquely offering scooters on a monthly subscription basis in the US.

Aside from not having to worry about maintenance, it’s also a good way to figure out if scooter riding is for you, without spending thousands of bucks.

The Cost of an Electric Scooter Is Worth It

Every day, more and more people are commuting by electric scooters, and it makes total sense. While an electric scooter will cost you initially, the savings it provides most commuters is totally worth it.

Whether it’s a few miles/kilometers a day or completely replacing your car, adding a scooter to your life saves money and time, and more importantly, it can make your commute one of the best parts of your day.

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About the Author

Paul

With a background in applied physics, Paul is ESG’s Hardware Program Manager and a former motorcycle roadracing champion and manager of scooter repair workhouses for Lime and Skip; Paul has spent more of his life riding (and working) on two wheels than four.

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