If you don’t own an electric scooter yet, you may be wondering if buying one is worth it. Everyone seems to ride them, but are they cost-effective, good value for money, and how soon do they pay themselves off?
Are electric scooters worth it?
Electric scooters are a very cost-efficient way of traveling. Savings on fuel and public transport costs will pay off your electric scooter in 4-6 months in developed countries, and in about a year and a half on average globally. If you live in the USA, Canada, the EU countries, Australia, and New Zealand, you will save between $800 and $1200 every year, and between $400 and $600 in countries where fuel or public transport are cheaper.
This is research that will demonstrate how electric scooters compare with other means of transport cost-wise. Specifically, it will show that electric scooters are much more cost-efficient than owning a car or public transport (regardless of your location), how soon they pay themselves off, and how much savings they pocket for you each year.
Electric scooter costs
The only costs you will have with your scooter after you buy it will be the costs of potential repairs, and the cost of charging it. Electric scooters can cover hundreds of miles/kilometers on a dollar, and higher-quality scooters will not require any maintenance for several years, which means owning an electric scooter will likely cost several dollars per year.
Let’s check both main categories of the costs of owning an electric scooter in detail.
Repair and maintenance costs
Electric scooters, like all machines, can break down. But defects are not that common.
Scooters are mechanical and electronic devices, but when compared to other devices, they are not that complicated. They have the motor, the battery, and the controller, the brakes, and the wheels. Not that many parts really, so not that many possibilities for something to go wrong.
However, when they do break down, repairing them may get complicated. They are still fairly new inventions and there are not that many mechanics and repairmen knowledgeable about them. Sometimes the manufacturer can send you spare parts, but depending on the manufacturer, that can take little or a lot of time.
Still, this is a minority of cases. The most popular scooters already have repair shops in many cities. What’s better, there are many YouTube channels and forums where you can see how to do the simpler repairs by yourself, in your home, without paying an expert.
And as electric scooters get more popular and new models come out, defects are becoming even rarer.
There is the issue of battery aging over time. With heavy use, you might reach a point where you will have to replace your battery. But with good maintenance and care, your original battery can last you years.
Electric scooter charging costs
There are two important factors that will determine how much it costs to charge your scooter: the price of electricity where you live, and the capacity of your scooter’s battery.
For a typical scooter, like the Xiaomi M365 Pro (or any other scooter with a battery capacity close to 500 Wh), these will be the costs of fully charging it in the countries where they’re mostly used, taking into account whether you’re charging during peak or off-peak hours. For convenience, we will include the monthly costs for charging the scooter. We assume that you fully charge your scooter every day (probably too often), during peak hours (worst-case scenario).
|Country||Cost of charging the average electric scooter||Monthly charging cost (peak hours)|
|USA||$0.02 off-peak, $0.07 peak||$2.1|
|UK||$0.11 off-peak, $0.13 peak||$3.9|
|Australia||$0.06 off-peak, $0.12 peak||$3.6|
|Canada||$0.04 off-peak, $0.05 peak||$1.5|
|New Zealand||$0.09 off-peak, $0.10 peak||$3|
|Ireland||$0.11 off-peak, $0.13 peak||$3.9|
|Germany||$0.06 off-peak, $0.17 peak||$5.1|
|France||$0.06 off-peak, $0.10 peak||$3|
|Austria||$0.09 off-peak, $0.11 peak||$3.3|
|Belgium||$0.10 off-peak, $0.15 peak||$4.5|
|Sweden||$0.04 off-peak, $0.09 peak||$2.7|
|Finland||$0.06 off-peak, $0.09 peak||$2.7|
|Poland||$0.07 off-peak, $0.09 peak||$2.7|
|Russia||$0.01 off-peak, $0.03||$0.9|
|China||$0.02 off-peak, $0.04 peak||$1.2|
|Japan||$0.10 off-peak, $0.14 peak||$4.2|
|South Korea||$0.04 off-peak, $0.05 peak||$1.5|
|Singapore||$0.07 off-peak, $0.09 peak||$2.7|
|Malaysia||$0.02 off-peak, $0.03 peak||$0.9|
|Indonesia||$0.01 off-peak, $0.05 peak||$1.5|
|India||$0.01 off-peak, $0.04 peak||$1.2|
|Philippines||$0.09 off-peak, $0.10 peak||$3|
|Israel||$0.07 off-peak, $0.08 peak||$2.4|
|Brazil||$0.06 off-peak, $0.08 peak||$2.4|
|Argentina||$0.02 off-peak, $0.04 peak||$1.2|
If you are interested in the full research of electric scooter charging costs, you can take a look here.
Let’s see how these prices compare against other transport costs now.
Electric scooter vs car costs
To keep things simple, we will not be looking at maintenance costs here (plus, it’s kind of obvious that car defects will be much costlier).
We will be comparing the prices of charging your scooter every day during peak hours, to the price of fueling to be able to ride it for 400 miles (644 kilometers) every month.
I chose that number based on the yearly distance an average American drives with their car, which is 13.474 miles, then I divided it by 12 to get the monthly number (1124), and finally divided that by 2 for the car rides that you wouldn’t do with a scooter, like going somewhere with family, transporting some larger objects, etc. That gives us 562 miles, and since Americans probably drive more than people in other countries, I decided to further reduce that number to a nice round 400 miles (644 kilometers). I think that’s pretty fair to cars, if not somewhat generous, and it’s definitely something you can cover with an electric scooter too.
Since the charging prices were chosen for the average scooter, we will be looking at the average car as well. According to figures released by the federal office of environmental protection in Germany, the average car uses 7.5 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (62 miles). Again, I think this is generous for cars, since German cars are probably more fuel-efficient than the average car.
Putting the two together, we arrive at the conclusion that the average car that a person drives alone for about 400 miles (644 kilometers) in one month, will need 6.45 refills of 7.5 liters, or 48.37 liters.
[(400 miles or 644 km) / (62 miles or 100 km)] = 6.44
6.44 * 7.5 liters = 48.37 litersFuel needed in liters for one month of car usage by a ingle person
What remains now is to multiply that number by the fuel costs per country.
I pulled the fuel cost per country data from the GlobalPetrolPrices website.
With that data, here’s the full comparison between monthly costs for charging an average electric scooter every day during peak hours, and the cost for fueling your car for a month. The second-to-last column is your monthly savings depending on your country (it’s pure awesomeness!). The last column shows how many months does it take for a common scooter costing around $500 to pay itself off through savings on gasoline.
|Country||Fuel price $/liter||Fuel price for month||Scooter charge cost for month||Electric scooter monthly savings||Months before scooter pays itself off|
I simply love this data. Now, we can finally answer the big questions.
How much money does an electric scooter save you compared to car spendings?
On average, a common electric scooter will save you $33.47 per month when compared to the cost of fueling your car for your own personal rides only. In the USA, that amount is $18.3, $26.7 for Canada, and $24.6 for Australia. In the UK and Ireland, that amount is even higher at around $41, and it’s between $35 and $45 per month for most countries in the EU and Europe in general.
In countries where fuel prices are high, these savings will be huge. So countries in the EU will see huge savings with electric scooters.
Conversely, savings are lower in countries where fuel prices are relatively low, and possibly electricity cost is a bit higher, such as the USA, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
How soon does an electric scooter pay itself off with car fuel savings?
The typical electric scooter that costs around $500 will pay for itself in about a year and a half (17 months). This number is even lower in countries with expensive fuel, like in some European countries (13 months in Germany, 12 months in the UK and Ireland, 11 in France and most Nordic countries, and just 10 in the Netherlands). In countries where fuel is cheaper, this number is higher (27 months for the USA, 28 months in Russia, and even 44 months in Malaysia).
Electric scooters vs public transport costs
The other most common mode of transport is, of course, public transport.
While public transport is massively important, and it is great for the environment, many people find it insufficient in many ways. It’s dirty, often unreliable, or completely unavailable, and it reduces your flexibility.
And that’s not even the worst part. From a financial point of view, it’s mostly an expense, and it’s never an asset or an investment. You just spend money to get somewhere, and in the end, even after spending all of this money, you are left with no personal transportation mode that only you own. Even though the cheap price has traditionally been one of the main selling points of public transport, we will see that when compared to electric scooters, that’s no longer the case.
My point here is not to bash public transport. In fact, I think it’s doing a great job and a service to all of us. But there will come a time when most of us feel like we need a more powerful way to travel and commute. This research will show that electric scooters are not only a much cheaper way to get somewhere, but a better way too.
For the purposes of this research, I used the monthly prices of public transport tickets per country. I sourced the data from NationMaster. That’s probably the best-case scenario in favor of public transport, since buying individual tickets will probably drive the cost way up.
The following table represents the monthly ticket public transport prices for most countries where electric scooters are popular. It is directly compared to the charging costs of an average electric scooter. The second-to-last column shows the monthly savings that owning an electric scooter would produce, and the last column is the number of months before the electric scooter would pay itself off.
|Country||Price of monthly public transport ticket||Scooter charge cost for month||Electric scooter monthly savings||Months before scooter pays itself off|
We can see very big differences again. Here are the answers to the burning questions.
How much money does an electric scooter save you compared to public transport spendings?
Averaged across the world, electric scooters will save you about $50 per month if you use them instead of buying a monthly public transport ticket. The savings are very prominent in countries where public transport is expensive (the USA with $65, EU countries where monthly tickets cost between $80 and $100, and Australia, Canada, the UK, and Ireland, all with $100 or more). This holds true even for countries where monthly tickets are very cheap (the Philippines with $11, Ukraine with $10, India and Pakistan with $9.5).
How soon will an electric scooter pay itself off with public transport cost savings?
Globally, an average $500 electric scooter will pay itself off within a year and a half (17.5 months) with money saved on public transport tickets. In developed countries, where public transport is expensive, this time frame will be a lot smaller (just 4-6 months in the UK, Ireland, EU, and Nordic countries, Australia, and Canada, and about 8 months in the USA). In places where public transport is very cheap, it will take a lot longer (5 years in India and Pakistan, and a whole 8 years in Vietnam!).
Methodology for the research
The nerdier of you may have noticed that the average monthly savings do not really correspond to the average number of months that it takes for the scooter to pay itself off in both tables.
This is because we can’t derive the average number of months from the average monthly savings (I fell for this initially). The math behind it is very simple.
[($500 / usa_savings) + (500 / uk_savings) + …] / countries_number ≠ [$500 / (usa_savings + uk_savings + …)] / countries_numberA weird mathematical falacy I almost fell for
What the research doesn’t take into account
The obvious detail that is missing from this research is the cost of the eventual replacement of the battery.
For now, I decided to leave it out because it would have added an additional dimension of complexity to an already large number of data points. There are quite a few factors – the price of the battery, the lifespan of the old battery which is very hard to predict, the scooter model, the scooter use…
But it is a valid concern. So in the future, I will try and update this research with that in mind.
For now, I suggest thinking of it like this.
When compared to cars, this data point may be considered maintenance, which was also not considered for cars, so it may be fair to electric scooters.
When compared against public transport, if we assume a battery change of once every 2.5 years, at the cost of about $150, that increases the electric scooter monthly cost by about $10. Simply subtract $10 from the monthly savings and you will have a rough number of how much you will save all things considered.
Frequently asked questions about electric scooter value
We have proven that electric scooters are a good investment. Still, when it comes to absolute value, many potential owners may still have a few questions remaining. These are the most common ones.
Do electric scooters last?
I wish I could tell you that your electric scooter will last you decades.
The truth is, even though early signs are very promising, it’s a bit too soon to say.
Electric scooters have only been around for a few years, and they have been massively popular even less than that. They have come a long way, but great progress is still being made very frequently.
I’ve done a great amount of research on electric scooters for this blog, and I’ve gone through many user reviews and forum discussions. I can confidently say that I’ve noticed a few trends:
- electric scooters released in the last three years break down much, much less than their predecessors, and have much fewer defects
- higher-end scooters break down less often
- companies listen to their customers, and usually, the newer model of a scooter addresses many of the issues the previous model had
- we are seeing a great increase in specifications and features important to users such as range, speed, and safety, and at the same time seeing a drop in prices
You can also see the research on how long electric scooters last to find out more exact numbers.
It’s literally impossible to say if a scooter model will last 10 years, if the model itself has only been around for 3.
There is the odd report or a one-star review of a scooter breaking down after a very short period of time. But those are usually faulty exceptions, and the companies usually just send over a new scooter when that happens.
On the other hand, for every one of those unfortunate cases, you can see dozens of reviews, comments, or even blog posts and YouTube videos in the style of “1 year later with the Ninebot ES2” or “Xiaomi M365 after two years of usage”, where the users say they haven’t had a single issue.
The drop in defects and the rise in overall quality and design promises improvements across the board, and durability as one of the most important ones is certainly going up.
How long do electric scooter batteries last?
The battery is somewhat of a different story.
Most electric scooters have lithium-ion batteries, and like all other batteries, they lose their capacity over time. There will come a point in time when you’ll likely have to get a new battery.
The expected life of a lithium-ion battery is between 2 and 3 years, or between 300 and 500 charges, whatever comes first.
After about 18-24 months, you may start seeing noticeable drops in range and power. The majority of owners will likely have to replace their batteries after year 3.
How much your battery will last also depends on how well you take care of it, and how you take care of the scooter in general. To get the most out of your battery:
- never drain your battery completely
- charge your scooter regularly
- if you don’t use it for longer times, make sure you store it properly
- inspect it frequently, make sure there are no defects
The great news is that battery technology is a field that’s seeing incredible progress. If we can have electric cars go for hundreds of kilometers on a single charge and have batteries last for years, it is only a matter of time before we see that in electric scooters too.
Are electric scooters reliable?
As mentioned, complete break downs are very rare, despite electric scooters being a fairly new technology.
Also, the range keeps getting improved year over year. Today, there are tons of amazing long-range scooters you can go for if you need more range.
Accidents are extremely rare, and very easily preventable with safe and responsible riding.
So overall, electric scooters are very reliable.
What should I look for when buying my first electric scooter?
If this is your first scooter ever, it’s best if you go with the public and get a tried and tested electric scooter.
For most use cases and if you’re on a budget, you can’t really go wrong with any of these:
- Xiaomi M365 Pro (full review here, get it from AliExpress, ships in USA too)
- Ninebot Max (full review here, check it out on Amazon)
- Razor EcoSmart (check it out on Amazon)
Check out the full electric scooter buying guide to learn exactly how to pick for your needs.