Last Updated on June 12, 2023 by Matt
As electric scooters grow in popularity, one common question I hear is “can an electric scooter replace a car?”
In this post, I’ll discuss the scenarios in which, according to my experience, an electric scooter could replace a car, entirely or partially. I’ll also address situations where solely relying on an electric scooter isn’t practical.
Can an electric scooter replace a car?
Completely replacing your car with an electric scooter will not be feasible in most cases. If you just need transport for yourself, to cover short or medium distances (less than 5 mi / 8 km in one way), in favorable weather conditions, and you don’t need to transport much else, then a scooter might replace your car. However, for most typical users, especially people with families or people having to travel more than a few miles, a scooter is not a good replacement for a car.
Electric scooters have mainly been designed for urban and city commuting for short-medium routes. While electric scooters beat cars when it comes to being eco-friendly, flexible, and cost-effective, it’s also important to consider their limitations. An electric scooter can’t accommodate multiple passengers, bear heavy weight, or provide sufficient protection from extreme weather like a car can.
When can an electric scooter replace a car?
Let’s dive into some scenarios in which using an electric scooter instead of a car would be a better and more convenient option.
You only need transport for yourself
One of the main rules of electric scooters is that you should ride alone.
That immediately makes the scooter a bad replacement for a car if you have a family or a partner.
However, if you only need to transport yourself most of the time, you’ll find that a scooter is more than enough to satisfy your transportation needs.
Replacing your car with an electric scooter means you can maneuver easily through heaps of traffic by weaving between cars, and save not just your time, but your nerves as well.
Many countries have designated lanes for micromobility vehicles and allow electric scooters to be ridden on bike lanes as well. In those countries, with a scooter, you can save time by avoiding traffic altogether. Since escooters use lithium batteries instead of fuel, using them instead of cars will also greatly reduce carbon emissions.
While electric scooters may not be the best mode of transport for long-distance travel, they’re perfect for short to medium commutes. From commuting to work/school to running short errands, electric scooters are more convenient, more fun, and better exercise than a car.
With fuel prices on the rise, using an electric scooter instead of a car for brief commutes can be extremely cost-effective. The charging cost of an electric scooter is peanuts compared to the present absurd fuel prices.
If you’re someone who enjoys traveling and exploring different cities, you know how much a good mode of transport contributes to the whole experience.
Car rentals are too expensive, and with public transport you’re always on your toes and have to follow their schedule.
Electric scooters rentals are cheaper than car rentals and are easily found in tourist hotspots because of their rising popularity.
Also, nothing can throw a wrench in your plans for the day like unexpected waiting time caused by subway or bus delays. With an electric scooter, you have more control over your time and can make the most out of it without worrying about missing your ride.
One of the major benefits of electric scooters in this scenario is that since they are compact and portable, you can sometimes carry them with you on public transport as well. Using the two transport modes together, you can travel long distances with more flexibility.
If you’re going somewhere where finding parking space for your car can be a nightmare, do yourself a favor and take your electric scooter instead. Most electric scooters are lightweight and foldable, so you can easily carry them wherever you’re going.
If your electric scooter doesn’t fold, you’ll still have no trouble finding a small space to park it. Almost all places these days have designated bike racks that can also be used to park your electric scooter.
This is especially convenient for people who prefer parking their ride near the store to avoid long walks to the entrance.
Health and fitness
You may not get a full-blown workout with an electric scooter, but it’s definitely the healthier mode of transport compared to a car. Even with the motor assistance, you’re constantly on your feet, maintaining balance and navigating the vehicle. This requires physical effort and engages your upper body and core muscles.
The health benefits of an electric scooter include improved posture, balance, and stronger leg and core muscles.
So, if you’re looking to incorporate more health and fitness in your daily life, replacing your car with an electric scooter whenever you can is a step in the right direction.
Riding an electric scooter can also be good for your mental health. I personally feel more connected with the environment while riding my scooter, and it often helps me clear my head.
If your life’s been stressful lately, I highly recommend just taking a break and riding through your neighborhood or on a trail to soothe yourself.
No driving license
One of the great things about electric scooters is that you don’t need a license like you do with a car to ride one. So, the vehicle is also accessible to people who are ineligible or unable to drive a car.
This includes teenagers under the driving age limit, people with suspended licenses, non-citizens, etc. That being said, some countries and states have age limits for riding an electric scooter, so it’s always a good idea to check out your local electric scooter laws to avoid any problems.
While we’re on the topic of electric scooters being accessible to people ineligible to drive cars, it’s important to discuss how e-scooters have been a game changer for people with mobility issues.
If you’re someone who can’t drive a car because of a medical condition, electric scooters are a great alternative. They help you retain a sense of independence, and there are so many different designs available today to suit your needs e.g. scooters with bigger tires, comfortable seats, etc.
If you’re a college student, you’re probably on your feet all day, and a car isn’t the most affordable mode of transport. An electric scooter can be a dream for getting around on campus.
If you live in a dorm, you won’t have to pay for parking space either. Just a small space in your room will do. The scooter will also help you get around town off-campus to enjoy the city’s social scene, so it’s a win-win.
See my guide on the best scooters for students if you’re a student in need of a scooter, or if you’re buying a scooter for a student.
When can’t a scooter replace a car?
While electric scooters can be considered the perfect replacement for cars in many scenarios, there are some situations when the vehicle just won’t cut it.
Following are some scenarios in which using a car is just the more practical and convenient option.
Long distance traveling
Unfortunately, electric scooters can compete with cars when it comes to battery life and recharging. While the vehicle is great for short commutes, even some of the bigger batteries won’t hold up for long distances.
With a scooter, you would have to take multiple brakes of several hours to recharge, whereas with a car, you can just refuel and be on your way.
Even if you could travel long distances on an electric scooter, you’d eventually get tired of all the standing, bumps, vibration, etc.
A car, on the hand, makes a long ride much more tolerable with comfortable seating, air conditioning/heating, etc.
When you’re short on time
If you’re running late for an appointment or need to get somewhere quickly in an emergency situation, a car is the more reliable transport option.
There are many fast electric scooters available in the market to choose from, and even though a small number of them can actually go as fast as some cars, in general they are much slower than cars.
The average speed of electric scooters is around 15 to 25 mph / 25 to 40 kmh, whereas a car’s speed is at least 25 to 40 mph / 40 to 65 kmh. And that’s just for city rides – on open roads or highways, cars can obviously go much faster.
That being said, an electric scooter can get you past traffic jams much quicker.
Cars are faster, but I recommend updating yourself on the traffic situation of the routes before leaving, and if there’s tons of traffic jams, grabbing the scooter may be the better option.
Most electric scooters are designed for short to medium city commutes.
Highways, on the other hand, are designed for high-speed vehicles like motorcycles and cars.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the statuary speed limit for rural highways is 55 mph, and for rural interstate highways is 70 mph.
While some high-end electric scooters can go over 50 mph / 80 kmh, riding them on the highway is very risky and dangerous, both for you and all other traffic participants.
Electric scooters aren’t the best transport mode when it comes to riding in extreme weather conditions.
Sure, there are some water-resistant electric scooters, and there are a few good winter scooters as well. You may get away with riding your electric scooter in light rain, but that’s about it – harsher weather can be dangerous for both the rider and the vehicle, and riding in rain and snow is best avoided.
A car’s enclosed structure is better at protecting the passengers, and the design is also durable enough for the vehicle to survive extreme weather conditions without major damage.
One of the biggest advantages of a car is that it can accommodate multiple passengers. This is what makes the vehicle more family-friendly than motorcycles, electric scooters, bikes, etc. It’s also more efficient that people going to the same place use one vehicle instead of multiple.
An electric scooter is designed for a individual passenger. While it can be a fun group activity if each member has their own escooter, a car is a more practical option for a planned group outing.
Cars are also the safer option if you want to travel with children and pets.
Carrying heavy luggage or equipment
You can’t replace a car with an electric scooter when it comes to carrying heavy luggage and equipment. Any heavy luggage you carry on an electric scooter will add to its weight, possibly cross its weight limit, and affect its speed, battery life, and maneuverability.
A car has plenty of storage space and is durable enough to carry large amounts of weight without compromising performance.
Cities with poor infrastructure
Not all cities will have the infrastructure needed to ride your electric scooter safely. A lot of underdeveloped cities will have no separate bike lanes or pathways for electric scooters, and riding them on the road with other high-speed vehicles is too dangerous.
In comparison, you can rely on all cities to have roads for cars. So, unless your city has proper bike lanes and pathways to ride your electric scooter, the safer bet is to use a car.
Not everyone can handle the exertion of riding an electric scooter. If you have a medical condition that makes it hard for you to maintain balance on an electric scooter or stand for too long, you’re better off riding a car.
Riding an electric scooter has also been associated with some health risks, like back and neck pain. I’ve sometimes noticed this myself – if I ride for too long (several hours), my back can flare up (I do have a small back injury though). So, avoiding the vehicle is better if you think you’re prone to these problems.
Traveling in dangerous areas
Every city has some shady and unpopular areas which you shouldn’t be visiting in the first place. However, if you do find yourself in one, it’s better to be in your car than on an electric scooter. While riding an electric scooter, you’ll be more exposed, risking your safety.
A car is equipped with more lights which can help with visibility so that you’re aware and alert of your surrounding. The doors can be locked, so you’ll be much safer than you would be riding an electric scooter.
Should you get a car or electric scooter?
If you can only invest in one vehicle between a car and electric scooter, I suggest analyzing your daily life activities to determine if you can rely on an electric scooter as your primary vehicle.
For example, an electric scooter can be a convenient and affordable option if you’re a university student and most of your time is spent on campus, or if you only need a transport mode to cover a short to medium daily commute.
However, a scooter won’t be a good replacement if you have a family and often need to make longer trips.