Electric scooters or e-scooters are just regular two-wheeled scooters with an electric motor. They say that when you use it, you can protect the environment and save time.
Studies show that electric scooters have not led to a lower carbon footprint
Studies show that renting e-scooters hasn’t actually led to a decrease in the city’s carbon emissions. It depends on how and where they operate, but there are many situations where e-scooter programs can be environmentally friendly.
E-scooter emissions must be considered throughout their life cycle to assess the environmental impact of these programs. This includes the production of the materials and components used in each scooter, the manufacturing process, shipping the scooters to their intended locations, collecting, loading and redistributing the scooters, and disposal.
202 grams of CO2 per passenger-mile are produced by shared electric scooters throughout their life cycle, according to a 2019 study in the US state of North Carolina. Only 34% of e-scooter rides assessed replaced a ride that would have been taken in a shared car, despite the study’s findings that e-scooters create less carbon emissions than car-sharing (415 grams).
These findings were reinforced by a 2020 study conducted in Paris, which found that the city’s shared electric scooters increased the city’s carbon footprint by 13,000 metric tons over one year, which is comparable to total annual emissions. from a small town.
According to a study conducted earlier this year by Daniel Reck and Kay Axhausen at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, a shared e-scooter produces 51 more CO2 per kilometer than the mode of transport replacing it on average. According to Reck, shared electric scooters are currently harming the environment. This was stated in an interview with German publication Die Zeit.
There is a need to rethink electric scooters, say experts
Even under the best of circumstances, the first fleets only lasted a few months. Scooter transport requirements come next. They have generally relied on small batteries that require frequent recharging; usually workers are hired to pick up the scooters, drive them out of town to charge them, and then return them the next morning.
Most of the environmental impact of a rental program is due to emissions produced during manufacturing and operation. According to the researchers of the North Carolina study, these factors account for 93% of the carbon footprint of a shared e-scooter.
However, it also means that there are clear opportunities for operators to reduce emissions from their rental programs, including by coming up with creative ways to aggregate and allocate their fleet. Companies are also extending the life of their scooters. Superpedestrian, Lime and Bird are three operators that have gone a step further by creating industry standard models in-house. Interchangeable batteries are offered by a number of other companies, including Lime and Bird.
Currently, the majority of e-scooter rental programs lack clear green credentials. Despite recent advances seen by users, scooter manufacturers, their current life cycles and methods of collection, charging and distribution remain secret. However, given how quickly the e-scooter rental business has grown, it is difficult to generalize the findings of the current study to determine how environmentally friendly these programs will be.
Obviously, the market is growing rapidly and emissions from rental electric scooters will decrease over time. Whether we can improve the transit modes they replace is a big unknown. Electric scooters will struggle to be the greenest mode of transport in big cities with adequate public transport, such as Paris, New York and London.
Related article: Spin electric scooters are now available in the Lyft app, launched in 60 cities in the United States
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