While not as expensive as a few years ago, electric scooters are still a substantial investment for most people.
We all want high-quality products that last, and we hate to have to get a new product after a few weeks. Naturally, most first-time electric scooter owners will wonder – will their scooter serve them for years to come? To answer that, I did full research on the best-selling electric scooter models. The research provided exact answers on how long electric scooters last.
How long do electric scooters last?
One in every three scooters will last at least two years. Most scooters (including budget models) will last more than a year, but rarely more than three. One in 6 scooters will last 5 years or longer. Higher-end scooters can often last longer than 5 years. While the battery will usually not last more than 3 years, it is a part that can be easily replaced, so the scooter can last a lot longer.
Let’s take a deep dive into the data that provided these answers, see which scooters are the most reliable and how long do they last.
We used Amazon review data for the following popular electric scooter models:
- Ninebot Max
- Xiaomi M365
- Glion Dolly
- Ninebot ES1
- Swagtron Swagger 5
- Razor E300
- Razor EcoSmart
- Uberscoot 1600W
Most of these scooters are in the same price category. They all cost between $300 and $500, except for the Uberscoot 1600W and the Ninebot Max, which often cost around or below $800.
That means we are mostly looking at budget scooters. Higher-end models will have even better lifespans, of course, but since they are not selling that many units, the data on their lifespans will not be statistically relevant.
How many electric scooters break down in the first year?
These scooters have sold between 571.300 and 1.142.600 units combined, and a quarter of the owners that have had serious malfunctions have reported that on the Amazon listing (the methodology on how these conclusions are obtained is explained below).
The following table represents all of the negative reviews from users where the scooter has stopped working after a short period of time, or it has simply arrived defective. They were between one-third and one-half of all the negative reviews. The reviews include the time when the defect happened since delivery, the reason for it, and the number of instances this defect occurred.
|Time of defect||Reason||N. of instances|
|Dead on arrival||App||5|
|Dead on arrival||Battery||8|
|Dead on arrival||Brakes||2|
|Dead on arrival||Charging or charger related||9|
|Dead on arrival||Controls or controller||10|
|Dead on arrival||General or unknown||39|
|Dead on arrival||Mechanical||2|
|Dead on arrival||Stem and folding||2|
|Very little use (< 1 month)||App||3|
|Very little use (< 1 month)||Battery||20|
|Very little use (< 1 month)||Brakes||7|
|Very little use (< 1 month)||Charging or charger related||8|
|Very little use (< 1 month)||Controls or controller||4|
|Very little use (< 1 month)||General or unknown||44|
|Very little use (< 1 month)||Mechanical||7|
|Very little use (< 1 month)||Stem and folding||6|
|Less than 6 months||Controls or controller||3|
|Less than 6 months||General or unknown||14|
|Less than 6 months||Battery||6|
|Less than 6 months||Brakes||2|
|Less than 6 months||Charging or charger related||7|
|Less than 6 months||General or unknown||11|
|Less than 6 months||App||1|
|Less than 6 months||Stem and folding||11|
|Less than 6 months||Mechanical||14|
|Less than 6 months||Battery||10|
|Less than 6 months||Controls or controller||3|
|Less than 12 months||Battery||9|
|Less than 12 months||General or unknown||8|
|Less than 12 months||Mechanical||1|
|Less than 12 months||Stem and folding||3|
There are a total of 279 defects that have rendered the scooter unusable or unsafe for further use.
Further, 176 of these scooters have either arrived with a serious defect, or a defect has happened in a very short time after the first usage. This means, in more than half of these cases, owners have been able to spot the defect very fast, and ask for a return or replacement.
These are the defects, presented in order of frequency:
- General or unknown – 116 (scooter didn’t start, didn’t run, stopped working, or not specified)
- Battery – 53 (battery or battery-related components were the known cause for defect)
- Mechanical problems – 24
- Charger or charger related – 24
- Stem, folding, or handlebar – 22
- Controls or controller – 20
- Brakes – 11
- App – 9
This table represents the number of reported defects and the defect rate for every scooter model in the first year.
|Electric scooter||N. of reviews||Units sold (est)||N. of defects||Dead on arrival or after short use||Defect rate|
|Swagtron Swagger 5||305||45750||28||22||9.18%|
This is a visual representation of the defect rates.
The defect rate takes into account the number of reviews, but I think a really strong case can be made that it should take into account the number of total units sold instead. The reason behind that is that a defect in the first year is very likely to be reported and punished with a one-star review.
So, the real defect rate will very likely be much, much lower than what these numbers present.
Also, these numbers are not so bad to begin with – an average defect rate of 4.63% in the first year is pretty reliable for a product as complex as an electric scooter.
Which provides our answer to the question of how many electric scooters last at least one year.
Electric scooters have a 95.37% chance of lasting at least one year after purchase without a serious defect.
How long do electric scooters last?
The previous data set addressed the opposite of this question, which is how fast can scooters stop working. Naturally, we will use a different data set to figure out how long scooters last.
This is a bit more difficult to measure. The reason for that is three-fold:
- we can only know how long a scooter lasts after it breaks down completely
- most electric scooters have not broken down completely yet, and will probably not do so in the short term
- very few people actually leave reviews, and even fewer leave reviews when a product works as it’s supposed to
This means we can only partially answer this question.
The data we have can help us see the minimum likelihood of a scooter reaching a certain lifespan. From the models specified above, we have to exclude the Swagtron Swagger 5, the Ninebot ES1, and the Ninebot Max, since they are newer listings and their reviews don’t go that far back, so they would only skew the data.
If we look at the 4 and 5 star reviews of the models, and reviews older than 6 months, we can be fairly certain that those scooters have lasted at least from the moment they were bought, up until now. Users can easily change the reviews to one-star reviews if the scooters break down, and they probably often do that, so we can be fairly certain that 4 and 5 star reviews indicate that the scooter is still working properly.
|Electric scooter||Total Reviews||Total 4 or 5 stars||4 or 5 stars, > 6 months||4 or 5 stars, > 1 year||4 or 5 stars, > 2 year||4 or 5 stars, > 3 year||4 or 5 stars, > 4 year||4 or 5 stars, > 5 year|
|Xiaomi M365||1938||1124||56%||38%||10%||no data||no data||no data|
|Glion Dolly||613||484||63%||37%||18%||9%||5%||no data|
Here is a visual representation of the averages from the table above.
From the data set above, we can draw the following conclusions:
- even budget scooters have at least a 62.7% chance of lasting more than 6 months
- there is a minimum chance of 44.2% that an electric scooter will last at least one year
- at least 29% of scooters last more than two years
- at least 24% of scooters last more than three years
- at least 17% of scooters last 4 years or more
- 16% of scooters can last longer than 5 years
However, these are the bare minimums.
The problem with this data set is that very few people leave a review for a product when it works the way it should.
As we saw previously, scooters have about a 95% chance of surviving the first year without a defect, and that data set was much better for determining that.
Anecdotal evidence, experience, and simply checking out electric scooter communities, will lead us to conclude that the actual numbers are much better than these minimums.
What is the most reliable electric scooter?
We can finally answer a very important and interesting question for new or repeat electric scooter owners. And the best part is, we know that the answer will be backed up by data.
Initially, we may think that the most reliable scooter should be the one with the lowest defect rate. That would mean that the Uberscoot 1600W is the most reliable scooter.
However, the problem here is that we don’t have as much data about this scooter. It has the fewest reviews out of all the models.
Don’t get me wrong, the Uberscoot 1600W is an excellent scooter! It is, in fact, very reliable. It is also one of the more expensive scooters on this list, and there is a good reason for it, as it is also the best performing scooter on this list by far.
All in all, the Uberscoot 1600W has a lot of great things going for it. With an estimated number of units sold at 11400 and a defect rate of just 2.63% in the first year, it is one of the best inexpensive scooters you can ever buy.
Where to buy the Uberscoot 1600W from?
To be confident that we really have the most reliable scooter ever, we need to look at the models for which more data is available.
And so, we arrive at our champion.
The most reliable budget electric scooter in the world today is the Glion Dolly. With an estimated 91950 units sold, a defect rate of just 2.94% in the first year, and a very strong chance that it will last more than 3 years, it earns the title of the most reliable scooter.
Note: it seems like the Glion Dolly is now discontinued, and it is no longer sold in most online stores. I recommend checking out the Hiboy Max as a similar model and a great alternative to the Glion Dolly.
Where to buy the Hiboy Max from?
The methodology used for this research
Since we can’t obtain perfect and complete data for this research, we have to rely on partial data and a few assumptions. That will obviously come at the cost of some precision, but it still gets us one step closer to answering the question of how long do electric scooters last with a reasonable degree of confidence.
The data used for this research is the reviews that scooter owners have left on Amazon for the various models. We use Amazon data because it is the only place that is big enough to have a substantial number of reviews, and still the reviews are impartial and honest (we can’t rely on reviews posted on the websites of the scooter brands). Given how Amazon is the biggest online store in the world, and its business depends heavily on the correctness and genuineness of the reviews, we can be pretty confident that the reviews will be mostly true and unbiased.
To clean the data, we only look at reviews from verified buyers.
One major problem is that we only have sufficiently large datasets for fairly new scooters. It’s pretty hard to say how long will a scooter last if it’s only been released two years ago. So in some cases, we can only make educated guesses.
As we demonstrated, we have two primary groups of data.
One is the number of 4-star and 5-star reviews. These are the owners that have had no issues, or only minor issues with their scooters. We only look at reviews that are 6 months old or older, which reduces the number of owners to those who’ve only had the scooter for a significant amount of time. Then, we multiply the number of reviews by the quotient of the total number of reviews, and the number of 4-star and 5-star reviews, which will take into account people that have left positive reviews without a comment, but still keep in mind the proportion of the time intervals.
The other data group we look at is the number of people that have left 1-star and 2-star reviews, and have also stated that their scooter has become unusable or no longer safe to ride. We also note the reason for the defect. The error in this data will be that not every serious defect is reported on Amazon, but we can be pretty certain that serious malfunctions are reported and punished with 1-star reviews, probably far more often than ideal performances are rewarded with 5-star reviews.
We will be somewhat hard on electric scooter brands here and go for the worse assumption, assuming that only a quarter of the serious defects have been reported.
That very likely makes this data skewed towards negative reviews.
We will work under the assumption that between 0.5% and 1% of customers leave reviews (source). Using that percentage, we will estimate the total number of units sold on Amazon.
That number, together with the data, will provide the answers we are after.
Worst electric scooters
This study looked at the total number of defects but it didn’t group and intersect them based on the defect type and the scooter model. See my research on electric scooter defects for a more in-depth look at the most common serious scooter problems and malfunctions, and which models have them the most.