Electric Scooter vs Petrol Scooter – Which one is the better choice?

Ever since electric scooters came around, the market got heavily divided in one of the most heated debates concerning vehicles – electric vs petrol scooters: which one is the better choice?

If you were planning on buying a scooter yourself, you might have stumbled upon this dilemma as well. The problem is, the answer is not at all straightforward. Depending on what you’re looking for, the area you live in, and what you need the scooter for, different models suit different types of people.

In this article, we will go through the advantages that both petrol and electric scooters offer, as well as the main aspects in which they differ. We will also look at some scenarios where each type of scooter will fit better and when should you go for an electric or a petrol scooter.

Additionally, we will often mention and compare models that are popular at the moment, so you get a better glimpse of the market and its current standings. You’ll notice we use only models from well-known and established companies, mainly for two reasons. One, these companies will offer the best options you might want to consider. And two, an established company like Vespa or Piaggio instils higher confidence about the quality of their products, unlike new and unknown companies that provide no guarantee of where they’ll be 10 years from now.

Petrol scooter advantages

First, let’s look at the main advantages a petrol scooter can provide.

Petrol scooters are more suitable for long-distance travel

Arguably the biggest reason people still prefer petrol scooters over electric ones is their suitability for long journeys. Petrol engines in general are built with long-distance commutes in mind. They are expected to be used on rides for hundreds of miles on national highways, from one city to another.

Electric scooters, however, are largely used for inner city rides and short commutes to work and back, or for running some errands around town. As these models become more optimized, we will see them used for long-distance commutes as well, but currently one wouldn’t really dare cross state lines with an electric scooter.

There are a few reasons for this:

  1. There still aren’t enough charging stations for electric vehicles, as opposed to gas stations which are on every corner
  2. The top speed of electric scooters, on average, is fairly slow, making it nearly impossible to travel on an open highway
  3. Petrol engines are still much more robust than electric ones and bring much higher assurances that long journeys with high intensity will not lead to any problems

Petrol scooters are generally faster

Even if you compare some of the cheapest petrol scooters with the most popular electric ones, the petrol models will almost always come out on top in terms of top speed.

Petrol scooters, on average, have a top speed of around 62 mph / 100 kmh, compared to the upper limit of electric scooters which typically comes at around 35-40 mph / 56-64 kmh. For reference, the above graph illustrates the difference between the three most popular choices of electric and petrol scooters for 2022.

Petrol scooters have a longer lifespan

Unsurprisingly, a petrol engine will always outlast an electric one, and sometimes even six of them. It is expected that this difference will be significantly lowered throughout the next decade. But comparing the models currently available on the market it becomes evident that petrol scooters have a much longer lifespan than their electric counterparts.

The average engine of a petrol scooter is expected to reach around 62,000 mi / 100,000 km of riding with proper maintenance.

With e-scooters, the best you can hope for is about 10,000 mi / 16,000 km or around 3 to 4 years of usage before its battery capacity gets considerably shortened.

The silver lining here is that, at this point, you can simply toss the old battery and buy a new one, but it will be a costly maneuver. In order for the electric scooter to reach the same amount of miles as its petrol equivalent, you will need to go through 5 or 6 battery replacements and some minor repairs which can end up costing the same as the scooter itself originally did.

Electric scooter advantages

Now, let’s go through the benefits of electric scooters and why one should consider buying them.

Electric scooters have lower maintenance costs

It’s quite hard to tell which type of scooter comes cheaper in the end, since both models function in very different ways and require different amounts of financial investments.

But talking about pure maintenance costs, petrol scooters will cause headaches much more frequently than electric ones. This comes down to the fact that an electric engine has much fewer components that require regular check-ups and replacements, as opposed to petrol engines which constantly need to be oiled up and properly maintained.

With electric scooters, there are no oil checks, filter replacements, belt checks, etc… In fact, besides regular clean-ups, battery charging, and the occasional tire inflation, there are no other major maintenance issues here.

Electric scooters are more environmentally friendly

This one comes a bit obvious, but a huge part of the appeal of electric vehicles is the fact they cause much less harm to the environment than petrol vehicles in general.

Even though batteries from e-vehicles play their own role in damaging the environment, their impact is substantially lower than the CO2 emissions from petrol engines. And as the industry makes progress, electric scooters will become much more sustainable, easy to recharge, and with more durable batteries overall, which will lead to less and less pollution from non-recycled disposals.

Electric scooters can be used by youngsters

child with a helmet riding a Razor Power Core E90

One huge disadvantage petrol scooters have is that you can’t use one without a driver’s license, unlike e-scooters which currently have no such legal requirements.

Naturally, many countries have put some legal limitations on electric scooters as well, like being older than 13, riding under a certain speed, and using them only on bike lanes or other marked areas. But most of this is a rather loose control over the electric vehicles, as opposed to petrol scooters which have much stricter limits.

The main advantage of these law differences comes down to the user’s age. Since you must have a driver’s license to drive a petrol scooter, you basically can’t drive one until you are 18 (or 16 in some states). With e-scooters, however, you can start using them whenever you like (or whenever you feel comfortable letting your kids on them), preferably no earlier than the age of 13, which is the generally recommended age for electric scooter users.

Electric scooters make less noise

It shouldn’t go unnoticed just how quieter electric scooters are when compared to any other type of scooter out there. This is probably the only difference you can feel instantly the moment you hop on the scooter.

I know, there are a lot of motorcycle enthusiasts out there who just love the sound of a great engine, but if you aren’t that much of a gearhead, a nice, soft engine is well appreciated.

Speed

In terms of raw power, acceleration, and max speed, petrol scooters are still miles ahead of electric scooters. Even though electric-powered engines have come a long way over the past decade, there are still some major improvements to be done.

The top speed for an average petrol scooter like the Piaggio is around 62 mph / 100 kmh.

Compare this to its electric counterpart, the Piaggio 1, which barely goes above 30 mph / 48 kmh, and you can easily see which fares better.

But it’s not all about the max potential of the scooter. You can only reach the top speed by going on an open motorway anyway. What most people look for when buying a small-sized moped is how it will perform on the busy city streets. And since city rides will usually fare around 25-30 mph / 40-48 kmh, you can be satisfied with both petrol and an electric scooter.

What you actually want to look for here is acceleration. And petrol still beats electric in this category as well. The best possible acceleration rate you can get from an electric scooter today is 0-30 mph in around 5 seconds (achievable only on a handful of scooters). On average, these vehicles still need above 10 seconds to reach a decent speed. With petrol scooters, on the other hand, going 0-30 mph in less than 5 seconds is a piece of cake, as even most budget-priced models can achieve that.

Price

Talking about the price difference between petrol and electric vehicles of any kind is always tricky. It’s not enough to just compare the base market prices of the products. You also have to take the amortization costs that pile up over time, the maintenance costs, as well as the price difference between gas refuels and battery recharges.

The short answer is: electric scooters are cheaper in the long run, with the hidden cost of worse performances and a shorter lifespan.

The long answer will involve a bit of math. The main reason for this is the difference between fuel and electricity costs. Let’s look at two of the most popular electric and petrol scooters with similar specs: Piaggio Liberty 50 vs Dualtron X.

The base cost of the Piaggio Liberty 50 right now is around $2500, whereas the Dualtron X can cost you up to $7000. That is a stunning difference of around $4500 in order to get an e-scooter with similar performance levels as its petrol counterpart. So how long would the e-scooter need to pay itself off if you choose it instead of the Piaggio?

Well, the average fuel cost in the USA this fall is around $4, while the electricity cost for one full battery recharge is a bit lower, at around $3. With a fuel consumption of 84 mpg, the Piaggio Liberty 50 can pass 1000 miles at the cost of around $48. The Dualtron X, on the other hand, has a battery capacity of 105 miles per charge, which translates into 1000 miles at the cost of $28, a saving of $20 per 1000 miles ridden.

Since the average American that has a scooter rides it for around 30 miles a day, they would need about a month to pass 1000 miles. So, $20 is saved each month if you use an electric scooter instead of a petrol one. Taking into account the differences in maintenance costs, which can total up to $500 over a few years, you would still need whooping 16.5 years until the Dualtron X pays itself off.

Of course, this comparison was a bit too extreme, as Dualtron is one of the most expensive brands. But that is the only way to get an electric scooter that will provide similar performances as a petrol scooter. You can opt for a much cheaper version that will pay itself off after just a couple of years, but it won’t have anywhere near the speed levels or the efficiency of the average petrol scooter.

Ride experience

The ride quality is probably the biggest advantage electric scooters have over petrol models. They are, simply put, much easier and more convenient to use. You ride them by just pushing one button or a lever, and the rest is done automatically. There are no gear switches or any advanced mechanisms, so the whole feeling is much more easygoing and wholesome.

Add to this the mute engine and its seamless functioning, and it is clear that one would much rather have a quiet electric scooter over any petrol moped if it comes down to the ride experience.

When to get a petrol scooter?

It is evident that there are some types of people who would rather get a petrol scooter over an electric one.

A petrol scooter would be a much better choice if you want a fast ride. These models are, on average, much faster than electric scooters and a perfect fit for thrill riders who want something more exciting. Additionally, if you don’t really care about fuel costs that much and value speed over cost-efficiency, petrol scooters are a no-brainer.

On another note, you should also choose petrol if you need the scooter for long-distance commutes. Especially if you travel from one city to another on an open highway. Electric scooters will be less reliable than petrol because of their small batteries who would need a long recharge in the middle of the commute.

People who live in an under-developed area with weakly maintained roads and no electric charging stations nearby should also consider going petrol over electric. The reason here is quite clear – while e-vehicles are arguably the way of the future, the infrastructure required for them is still missing from most parts of the world.

When to get an electric scooter?

Getting an electric scooter instead of petrol would be the smarter choice in many instances.

If you aren’t a fast rider and would rather enjoy a toned-down but fuel-efficient ride, you should definitely consider going electric. E-scooters are very fun vehicles, even though they keep their speed modest. Not only that, but they are one of the most eco-friendly types of commuters we have today. Anyone looking for a sweet smooth ride with a huge impact on the environment is the perfect owner of an electric scooter.

Another big reason why electric scooters would be a much better choice than petrol is the cost. Living in a country where gas prices got extremely high over the past few years can be harsh, especially since there’s no end to the fuel crisis in sight. So, instead of swapping your car for public transport or another vehicle dependent on gas, why not go electric instead?

E-scooters are also much safer for kids than petrol scooters. If you have kids or young siblings, it would be impossible to let them try and ride a petrol scooter because it would not only be very unsafe but also probably illegal.

And finally, if you are only looking for a light commuter that you’ll use for a dozen of miles a day, there’s no better choice to make than to go for an electric scooter.


Want to get cool tips, exclusive discounts and promotions, and unseen scooter hacks? Join Scooter Secrets.




Matt standing next to his Xiaomi M365 Pro electric scooter and holding an electric scooter helmet
I love electric scooters, so I decided to make a blog about them. I like doing a lot of research on various models and brands, looking for great value and performance, both through data and experience.