How much does it cost to run a moped and how much does it cost to charge an electric scooter? The cost of ownership of an electric scooter is about 9 cents per mile. Renting an electric scooter will cost you around $1.50 per mile. This low cost is why many people are using electric scooters as their transport of choice. So what is the total running cost of electric scooter?
That is a basic answer, and if we want to come to a fuller idea of the cost, we need to look at the other costs of electric scooter ownership. We need to know what we would have to pay for an electric scooter, what our service bills are likely to be, and how does the cost stack up against owning a car or bicycle?
How much does an electric scooter cost?
You can find electric scooters from as little as $100. As you can likely imagine the base models at $100 are not as full of features as higher models or come equipped with a good battery. You will find that the market for electric scooters slows down at the $500 mark. The $500 point is where you will find all the new technology being tested before it slowly starts to filter its way down to lower models.
One of the key reasons to buy a more expensive electric scooter model is battery life. You do not want a battery that will not last for your trip. Although at least, unlike cars, you can then still use your scooter it will just require some more effort.
Types of Batteries
There are three main types of battery found in electric scooters.
- Sealed lead acid battery (SLA). These batteries have been around for a long time. They are the same style of battery as you will find in your car. If you have ever lifted your car’s battery, you will know that this style of battery can best be described as reassuringly heavy.
Having been around for such a long time, these batteries are available easily. They are also pretty cheap, so these are the batteries that will be found in the majority of electric scooters.
- Nickel metal hydride battery (NiMH). These batteries have been around for a few years now. They are much lighter than SLA batteries. They are also more technologically advanced than SLA batteries. As you can then imagine this makes them more expensive.
You will tend to find that if an electric scooter has a NiMH battery, then the battery has been designed for that scooter. The good news is this means the battery can be around 30% lighter, great if you ever have to carry your scooter. They will also last longer and give you a better distance figure than SLA batteries.
- Lithium-ion battery (Li-ion). These are the most modern style of batteries, and you may want to think about a mortgage if you’re going to buy one. You will see everyone raving about these batteries online. This is because they are super lightweight.
They are not just light though, they last around three times longer than SLA batteries, and they also need virtually no maintenance. You can leave your electric scooter in the cupboard for a long time, and it will just start back up again. NiMH batteries tend not to do so if you leave them for a while.
Running cost of electric scooter
Batteries are expensive
When you buy a new scooter the majority of the price you pay will be for the battery. Some electric scooters with Li-ion batteries and carbon fiber construction will cost you over $1000. These electric scooters will be super light and will easily manage to get 10 miles from one charge, which is approximately 40 minutes since you asked.
Lightweight might be something else you are looking for in an electric scooter, but lightweight will mean a lighter battery. That will either impact the cost of your scooter or the distance your electric scooter can go. Around the $350 mark is where we have found the best balancing point of price, weight, and distance to be.
How much does electric scooter rental cost?
You can also now find many electric scooter rental firms, particularly across America. You will find companies such as Bird, Scoot, and Skip available to rent. Renting an electric scooter is similar to how bike rentals, or bike sharing schemes, work in major cities.
Given that these companies are now valued at over $1billion each it won’t be long before you get them in every city around the world. There is also a way to make money here as the companies will pay you between $9 and $12 to charge their scooters. Given that you will only be paying your energy company 5cents for the electricity it is an excellent way to make a profit.
To rent an electric scooter generally starts with a flat rate hire fee of $1. You will then be expected to pay 15 cents per minute afterward. You would have to then be on the scooter for 660 minutes before it makes more sense to have bought a scooter.
A two-mile journey will take around ten minutes on an electric scooter, costing you about $3. At this cost, you can easily try an electric scooter and see if it is for you. If it is for you, then you can easily either carry on hiring or splash out and get yourself a new scooter. It saves you spending 3 figures to find out if you do or don’t like scooters.
There are also other savings to be had by renting scooters. You are only paying for your time on them you are saving yourself from some of the costs of ownership. You will not need to pay for maintenance of your scooter.
Cost of electric scooter maintenance
It doesn’t matter if you have bought a $100 or $500 electric scooter you will still have to do some maintenance. If you don’t, you will quickly be off to spend your hard earned on a new electric scooter. A few bits of basic maintenance and your scooter will last a long time and save you more cash in the long run.
The first and simplest thing you will need to do is keep an eye on your tire pressures. If your scooter comes with solid tires, this will be less of a problem, but you will be getting shaken about more by the ground.
A quick way to test the pressure of your tires is to press down on your tire with your thumb. Checking this way will only tell you if you have too little pressure but won’t tell you how much more you need. Take a gauge if your tire feels soft and check the pressure.
Your tire will have pressure recommendations written into the side of it. Follow the advice of the tire manufacturer, failing to do so can lead to some catastrophic failures. Not maintaining your pressure can lead to punctures, extra wear on your tires and sloppy steering. Always remember your tires will lose pressure slowly. Keeping your tires in good order doesn’t cost anything so don’t skimp on it.
Chain and Drive belt
You will also want to check your chain or drive belt regularly. If either loses tension, you can have your chain or belt slip off, or you wear your other drivetrain parts will wear down faster. The same is also true for too high a tension. Never over tension your belt or chain.
If either your chain or belt is showing signs of wear, replace them. The longer you wait to replace them the more they will wear down other components. You also want to make sure you don’t place the chain or belt so as they are rubbing other parts.
While looking at your chain, you might want to make sure it is lubricated. Regular lubrication will extend the life of your parts. While doing this, you will also want to lubricate your throttle and brake linkages. Don’t go crazy with the lube but just enough to let everything move and stop them rusting.
Your battery is the part that makes your electric scooter an electric scooter so make sure you take great care of it. Only ever use the battery charger that your electric scooter manufacturer states you should use, really don’t cheap out here. You also don’t want to leave your battery on charge after it has charged. Leaving it on charge risks a fire.
If your battery is showing signs of chemical leakage or corrosion, change it. If your battery is no longer holding charge or is losing it faster, it is time to buy a new battery. Taking care of your scooter can cost you nothing or can cost you a new battery at anywhere between $50 and $1000 for the new Li-ion batteries. On average you will be looking at the cost of pennies for a regular maintenance schedule.
If you take care of your electric scooter, it should lead a good and happy life. You can expect a well-maintained scooter battery to last for around 2-3 years. This figure will grow as technology improves. As the battery is the main cost to your scooter, it is then up to you to either buy a new scooter or just a battery. Remember and recycle as much as you can either way.
How much does electricity cost to charge an electric scooter?
On average an electric scooter will take a half kilowatt of energy to be fully charged. This means in America you will be paying around 5 cents for each charge. In the UK this will mean about 6 pence for a charge. In the EU you will be looking at an average of 10 euro cents per charge unless you live in France and you’ll be looking at 7 euro cents. I guess all the electric scooter users will be moving to France.
Imagine you use your electric scooter for commuting, how much do you think that will cost over a year? So we have decided to buy a good mid-range electric scooter, it has cost us $350. Your commute is 5 miles to work and 5 miles home, which means every night your battery is drained.
Working 5 days a week for 4 weeks holiday would mean we work 240 days a year. That would mean the electricity would cost us $12 a year.
Chain lube that we lube the scooter with costs us $15 for the year. Your cost for one year’s commuting would be $377 — a cost of around 16 cents per mile.
If kept the scooter for more year, and also replaced the drive chain at $20. Your commute cost would be $424 for two years — a cost of just under 9 cents per mile.
Is an electric scooter a great transportation choice?
According to the AAA the average annual cost of owning an electric car is $8,439, and for an average car, it is another $30. The average cost here massively exceeds the cost of an electric scooter over a year. The number though is based on an annual mileage of 15,000.
That gives us a per mile cost of around 57 cents for an electric car. For the average car, it is almost the same, only fractions of a cent more. A car will cost you almost 6x as much to run a mile. That would make a scooter seem like the more sensible choice for short journeys. Especially if we start to think about environmental harm
If we want to stay environmentally friendly, we could look at a bike. A bike is figured to work out at $308. That figure may seem less than the scooter figure, but this figure is worked out over 5 years as opposed to a single year. Our average cost over two years was $212 for the scooter, on that basis the scooter will work out cheaper than a bike.
So, in the end, the costs of running an electric scooter are very cheap. Much cheaper than other forms of transport, the only cheaper way would be to walk. Maybe it is now time to think about your bank balance and get an electric scooter for those short commutes to work.
Cost efficacy of electric scooters and bikes: doing the maths
Chances are that you will not save money by using an electric scooter. So, your motivation for using an e-bike should be non-financial (e.g. wanting to use an eco-friendly fuel in a city, thus contributing to cleaner air; being different from others; not having to frequently visit petrol stations; any other reason). However, even if you lose money, chances are that it will only be a small amount per annum; but if you are careless with battery charging, your losses would be high.
Assume that petrol, with or without added oil, costs Rs.75 per liter.
Assume that you have a petrol bike that gives you 50 km per liter.
- Then, you are paying Rs.1.50 per km when you use a petrol bike.
Assumptions and calculations
Assume that your e-bike batteries cost Rs.12,000 [Prices are Rs.13,000 to 19,000 as of May 2015].
Given that you are paying this money up front, at 10% simple interest per annum you have lost Rs.1200 at the end of the first year; that is, you have paid Rs.13,200 for the batteries.
Therefore, in order to break even relative to a petrol bike, you have to get (13,200/1.5) km; that is, 8,800 km out of your batteries.
In my 7-year experience, batteries usually don’t last beyond one to one and a half years, and they do not given more than 5000-6000 km (often less). Therefore, when one accounts for other factors such as electricity costs (see below), e-bikes can actually be far more expensive to run than petrol bikes. However, do take into account all the factors involved and do your own calculations based on your individual situation. Also take into account that all the mileage that you get out of your first set of batteries is transport for free, so you are way ahead of the reckoning at the outset (see Point 6 below).
Further considerations and adjustments
1. You will need to add a little to the above number in order to make up for what you are paying for the electricity (e.g. if your electricity bill goes up by Rs.750 a year because of your e-bike, you will need to run an additional 500 km to break even).
2. You will need to add a little to the above number in case you do not run this distance during the first year. This is because you must include the interest on the cost of your batteries for the additional months of the second year that it takes you to run the necessary distance.
3. You will need to adjust the above calculations for the actual mileage that your present petrol bike gives; and for the actual sum that you are paying for your petrol, with or without the added oil.
4. You will need to adjust the above calculations for the sum that you are paying for the servicing and maintenance of your present petrol bike as against what the maintenance of your e-bike costs you.
5. If you run your e-bike for a greater distance than what you need to break even, every extra kilometer that you run is like transport nearly for free (because the electricity costs are negligible).
6. If the cost of your e-bike is not much different from the cost of the petrol bike that you planned to buy, then you do not need to break even for the cost of your initial set of batteries. The distance that you run on these batteries is like transport for free because the electricity costs are negligible.
7. Make sure that you also factor in the cost of the accessories. You may be charged extra for the side stand (a necessity, given the weight of the bike), the seat cover, the helmet lock, the crash guard, and others.
1. Lead acid batteries are stated to have a life of about 300 cycles. If your e-bike is stated to have a range of 40 km per cycle, you can expect only about 25-30 km per cycle in city traffic (less, as the battery ages). Thus, if you do not lose your battery early due to overcharging and if your battery runs a normal life, you can expect a maximum of about 300 x 25 km; that is, 7500 km from it. If you divide the cost of the battery by 7500, you will get an idea of how much you’re going to pay per kilometer. Use this logic to calculate your expected costs based on the stated range of the bike you propose to buy, the real life range (60-70% of the stated range, and less as the batteries age), the cost of the batteries, and the interest lost because of the upfront capital expenditure at the time of purchase of the batteries.
- The maximum distance that I have obtained from any set of batteries was about 5000-6000 km.
- The batteries seldom last for longer than 12-18 months, regardless of distance run.
2. Lithium ion batteries have a life of 1000-3000 cycles and a lifespan of 3-5 years (check with the manufacturer). However, they markedly increase the cost of the bike from ab out Rs.40,000 for lead acid battery versions to more than Rs.1 lakh for a lithium ion battery version.
Electric Scooter Categories
Budget Electric Scooters (<$300)
Most scooters that fall into the budget e-scooter class are not recommended for anything but minimal or light recreational use. At this budget price point, expect under-powered motors, low capacity batteries, and weak brakes. However, there are some excellent and very functional electric scooters in this category. They are worth taking a look at if this fits your budget.
See Editor’s Choices for Best Electric Scooters Under $300
Commuter Electric Scooters ($300 to $1200)
The commuter class of electric scooters is the biggest one and therefore divided into three categories. At these price points, we generally find that scooters are fairly balanced in terms of features, quality, and performance.
Budget Commuter ($300 to $600)
These scooters are great for traveling shorter distances, have a reasonable range, and suitable build quality for daily commuting. Expect occasional repairs over the few years expected lifetime. Budget commuter scooters are best when your commute has relatively smooth surfaces and not a lot of steep hills. They are light enough that you can fold and carry them up stairs once in a while.
See ESG Editor’s Choices for Best Electric Scooters Under $600
Mid-ranged Commuter ($600 to $900)
A mid-ranged commuting electric scooter will have a slightly larger battery for more range and possibly more motor power than the budget commuter. You won’t see any dual-motor scooters at this price, but you will see the incorporation of suspension into some models.
See ESG Editor’s Choice for Best Electric Scooters Under $900
Premium Commuter ($600 to $1200)
Scooters in the premium commuter class typically add suspension, larger motors, bigger batteries, and better brakes to the budget and mid-range offerings. The ride will be more comfortable, safer, and have a better range due to these upgrades. However, there is a tradeoff with increased weight (around 40 lbs) that makes loading into a car or carrying upstairs more difficult.
See ESG Editor’s Choice for Best Electric Scooter Under $1200
Performance Electric Scooters ($1200 to $1600)
Performance electric scooters start to offer either serious speed or ultra-long range. Many of these scooters incorporate dual motors and sizable battery packs. The longest-ranged scooter in this category can deliver up to 50 miles of real-world range. At this price point, which ranges from $1200 to $1600, you will also start to see some premium features including large tubeless pneumatic tires, semi-hydraulic or hydraulic brakes, powerful lights, and turn signals.
See ESG Editor’s Choice for Best Electric Scooters Under $1600
Extreme Performance Electric Scooters ($2500+)
Extreme scooters like these are the highest performing in every category except portability. They have massive, dual motors (some reaching speeds above 40 mph), extended battery life for extreme range (>40 miles), top-notch suspension, and hydraulically-activated disc brakes for stopping at fast speeds. Although still suitable for daily commuting, their larger tires are the only ones built for off-roading. These extreme performance scooters are the heaviest as well (typically +70 lbs), so if you need to fold and carry these scooters, make sure you are comfortable with the weight.
See ESG Editor’s Choice for Best Electric Scooters Under $2500
Electric Scooter Features
What else should you know before buying an e-scooter? Now that we’ve gone over some important factors to think about, let’s dive into some other topics that will likely influence which scooter you choose to purchase, including price, range, weight, top speed, rider weight, and IP rating.
There are always going to be better and worse values in purchasing electric scooters, but basically quality and features improve with price. You won’t be buying an extreme off-road beast scooter for $200. Refer to the electric scooter categories for price brackets.
You can use the comparison database to set min and max limits for the price to a budget range that suits your needs. This will return all scooter options available in that range, and you can jump to our detailed reviews (written and video) for most.
Range refers to the distance a scooter can travel before it runs out of battery power. The range of your electric scooter will depend on various factors, including motor power, rider weight, scooter weight, weather, mode, and average speed. We perform a real-world range test on all scooters to determine a realistic assessment of range.
Our ESG certified range test is performed by the same rider on the same urban route with frequent stops, rough roads, and uphill climbs in the scooter’s highest performance mode. The 165 lb rider pushes the scooter to its limit, maxing out the throttle and riding until the battery dies completely.
A cautious rule of thumb is to take whatever the manufacturer advertises and divide by two. Results from the 2018 electric scooter survey show most manufacturers overestimate by 30% in their range claims.
Like all batteries, as time goes on your battery capacity (and scooter range) will diminish. Most batteries will maintain their integrity for at least 300 to 500 charging cycles, with the best batteries enduring up to 1000 charging cycles before beginning to degrade. Think about your commute and how far you travel in a typical day. Remember that when your scooter runs out of power, no matter the size, you can still kick to push it.
Pro Tip: You can also bring your charger with you or buy an extra charger to leave at your destination. Some high performance scooters have dual charging ports, cutting charge time in half when using two chargers.
Weight can be a big consideration if you need to fold and carry your scooter, especially on a regular basis.
Most scooters with a reasonable range (>15 miles) will weigh over 25 lbs. Scooters far exceeding 30 lbs will be fairly difficult to carry for long durations. Having a handle or shoulder strap will help bear the weight. Some scooters have extra wheels or a folded configuration that allow them to be rolled like the compact, commuter-friendly Glion Dolly. However, scooters will still have to be carried up stairs or lifted into a vehicle when transporting. Even the highly portable Dolly has folded dimensions of 37 in by 12 in by 8 in and weighs 28 lbs, which can be awkward for some to carry.
If you are in the market for recreational joyriding or beast mode off-roading and not focused on its portability, the weight is not as important a factor as build quality and top speed. If you are looking for a commuter electric scooter to solve the last mile problem on your everyday route, its weight is important to consider.
Think about your commute:
- Will you need to walk up stairs?
- Does your destination have an elevator?
- Do you have permission and space to store your scooter inside (primarily in workplaces)?
- Do you have alternate transportation when poor visibility and/or inclement weather occur?
- Are you able to lift the scooter into a trunk?
Some conditions, like rainy weather, may call for you to take public transportation or a rideshare home. Most drivers will allow you to put your scooter in the trunk, but you still need to be able to maneuver it into the vehicle yourself.
Pro Tip: For comparison, the average weight of a household standup vacuum cleaner is 12 lbs to 18 lbs and many have similar dimensions to large folded scooters. Alternatively, visit a sporting goods store and pick up a few dumbbells or kettlebells to test what weight you can comfortably manage.
Top speed is not a huge factor for most commuters as long as the scooter can reach 15 mph. In fact, some municipalities have laws against going over 15 mph on electric scooters and most restrict scooters from driving on pedestrian sidewalks.
Riding in a car or even on a bicycle at 15 mph feels different than riding an electric scooter at that speed because of the tires and acceleration. In reality, when traveling on roads or in bike lanes, 15 mph to 18 mph is fast enough. If riding in urban traffic regularly, scooters with good acceleration and top speeds in this range can help you avoid accidents. If you are interested in extreme performance scooters, those can go up to 50 mph (like the Kaabo Wolf Warrior 11) and we recommend wearing serious safety gear when traveling at those speeds.
Pro Tip: Always wear a helmet when riding your scooter at any speed.
The max load or max rider weight is the weight limit that the electric scooter can support. For most scooters, this limit ranges from 220 lbs to 270 lbs. If you weigh more than this, you’ll want to make sure you’re looking at scooters that can support your weight. For safety reasons, you shouldn’t exceed the weight limit specified by the manufacturer.
Keep in mind that even if the scooter is rated for your weight and you’re at the top of the limit, it will be slower and have less range compared to a lighter rider. Also consider if you’ll be carrying a backpack or anything else that will add to the overall weight the scooter will bear. For riders near or above 220 lbs, you should focus on electric scooters with at least a 500-watt motor.
Pro Tip: You can filter the comparison database based on rider weight.
Adult electric scooters have hub motors, which are brushless direct current (BLDC) electric motors that are built into the hub of the wheels. All electric kick scooters have at least one motor while more powerful ones will have dual motors.
Electric motors are rated based on their power consumption, which is expressed in units of watts (e.g., 600 watts). More powerful motors will have greater wattage. Motor power generally starts at 200 watts and goes all the way up to 6270 watts on the Dualtron X.
An average budget commuter scooter, like the Xiaomi Mi M365 has a 250-watt motor; a mid-range commuter scooter like the Fluid FreeRide Horizon has a 500-watt motor; and an extreme performance scooter, like the Kaabo Wolf Warrior 11, has dual 1200-watt motors (or 2400-watt motor power).
For adults, we do not recommend anything under 250 watts for daily commuting. This will be adequate for flat surfaces and very small hills. If you live in an area with steeper hills, think about going to 350 or 500 watts. Even with 500 watts, your scooter will slow down on medium-sized hills. Larger motors will not only help with powering up hills, but they will also get you up to top speed more quickly.
Suspension, similar to that in a car, smooths out bumps and indentations in the road and improves ride quality. Without it, and especially if you have solid (airless) tires, you will feel every bump that you travel over. If your commute is longer or has rough terrain to cross, strongly consider purchasing a scooter with suspension.
There are three main types of suspension systems that are typically found on electric scooters: spring, hydraulic or air piston, and rubber suspension. Scooters with the best suspension will have some combination of spring and piston — a combination called coil-over-hydraulic or coil-over-air.
Suspension can be attached to the front, rear, or both wheels. Scooters in the premium commuter class should have either front or rear suspension.
Many scooters forgo suspension in favor of large pneumatic tires that provide damping effects. These can offer a better form of suspension than cheap spring suspensions.
Scooters, like bicycles, can have a white front light and a red rear light. If you ride after dark, it is necessary to have both a front and rear light. Due to the design of electric scooters, they typically do not have very visible rear lights. If you are going to ride at night, strongly consider adding some flashing red rear lights to your helmet or backpack.
Read our guide to electric scooter lighting.
A quality braking system is essential for staying safe and in control while riding an electric scooter. Like those on a car or bicycle, brakes are what slow the electric scooter down. Electric scooter brakes can be broken into two categories: mechanical and electronic.
Mechanical brake systems are those that rely on a physical mechanism to slow the scooter down and include foot, drum, and disc brakes. The typical 15 mph stopping distance for mechanical systems is 20 feet, with the absolute best being under 10 feet.
- Foot brakes, which are activated by pushing your foot down on the rear fender, cause it to rub against the rear tire, slowing it down. This type of brake has stopping power but is not as effective as drum or disc brakes.
- Drum brakes are enclosed inside the wheel hub, are generally lower maintenance than other braking types, and have consistent performance in wet conditions.
- Disc brakes have the most stopping power and are lighter than drum brakes. They are typically found on higher-end premium commuter and high-performance scooters, but may appear on better quality budget commuter scooters as well.
- In our real-world road tests, we found disc and drum brakes to be the most effective.
Electronic braking systems rely on using the motor itself for braking and include strictly electric and regenerative braking systems. Electric and regenerative brakes are the weakest. If you are traveling at 15+mph and need to stop quickly, these alone will not do the job. The typical 15 mph stopping distance using an electronic brake alone is 30 to 40 feet.
Mechanical braking systems will offer much stronger braking than electronic systems. However, electronic systems benefit from not requiring any periodic adjustments or maintenance. Many scooters will have a combination of both electronic and mechanical braking systems. For safety reasons, we recommend scooters that have at least two braking systems in case one fails.
Learn more in our technical guide to electric scooter brakes.
- Solid tires There are a few varieties of airless tires and these include honeycomb, polymer-filled, and solid. Solid tires are inferior to pneumatic in every way except they have virtually no maintenance required. When riding on solid tires, you’re more likely to feel every bump and even stumble over lines of paint on the road.
Pneumatic tires We always recommend pneumatic tires because they give better ride quality (with or without suspension) and their supple rubber performs much better in adverse road conditions. Some air-filled tires have inner tubes that can be replaced if damaged; other air-filled tires are tubeless. Pneumatic tires have the advantage of shock absorption and better handling (especially in bad weather).
The downside to pneumatic tires is there is more maintenance required than the airless variety. Pneumatic tires are prone to punctures and need to be filled with air when they have low pressure. Pneumatic tires, with tubes and tubeless, are common in all price classes except the budget range, where tires are almost exclusively solid.
Pneumatic tires are common in all price ranges, except the Budget range, where tires are almost exclusively airless (solid).
Pro Tip: Do not underestimate the improved ride quality you will get with pneumatic tires. These will make a huge improvement when rolling over even minimally bumpy terrain, where road vibration can be very uncomfortable on your feet and legs. Additionally, you can prevent flat tires by following a few simple tips.
The ingress protection or IP rating tells you how resistant an electric scooter is to dust and water. The IP rating consists of two numbers, but we focus on the second because it tells you how water-resistant the scooter is. The greater the number is — the more resistant it is to water and moisture.
Not all scooters have an IP rating. If you are planning on riding your scooter in all weather conditions, you will want to invest in one with at least IPx4 water-resistance.
|IPx1 to IPx3||Very limited water resistance|
|IPx4 to IPx6||Suitable for riding in the rain|
|IPx7+||Can be fully submerged in water|
Pro Tip: You can sort our electric scooter comparison database, based on IP rating (the column is titled “Water”).