Save your Wallet and the Planet with your E-bike

SAVE MONEY AND THE PLANET WITH YOUR E-BIKE

‘How much are those then’ comes the familiar refrain. If you’re a regular e-biker you will know the situation. First will come the curious looks then the questions. ‘Does it recharge itself?’….’Do you have to pedal?’

Whilst some potential e-bike buyers recoil in horror at the mention of a four figure sum it might also in future be worth mentioning how much it could save you on your regular commute. How much is that exactly? Read on for the number crunching.

E-bike vs Small Car

If you want to economise on the commute but think regular cycling might just prove too much or take too much time e-bikes are great news. This example assumes you buy a good value but high quality e-bike like the Beat Bike Toba Crossbar.

Cost of bike:                                       £1595.00
Annual cost over 8 years                 £ 199.38
Annual cost of spares/repairs say  £  50.00
Most spares and repairs for a good quality e-bike are in fact the normal spares and repairs that you would need on a regular bike.  The cost of batteries is the main extra expense – not included in the Annual cost of spares figure above. The Beat Bike battery features good quality cells and has a respectably above average capacity of 612Wh (the fewer times you need to charge it and the fewer times it gets a full discharge the longer its life will be). I have assumed a replacement every four years (three new batteries at years 4,8 and 12) which seems very reasonable on such a large, high quality battery and you may well get away with fewer replacements, especially if you can live with the reduced capacity that several years’ use will bring.

Impulse battery 17Ah 36V replaced once over 8 years @ £795 each = £795
£795 annual cost over 8 years    £99.38
Cost of electricity based on a 10 mile round commute every working day so
240 days x 10 miles = 2400
A good mid-motor drive like the Toba (mid-motors tend to be more efficient than hub motors) should average around 0.015 kWh of electricity per mile.
0.015kWh x 15p per Wh of electricity x 2400miles = £3.60
Resale value 30% of original = 478.50
Over 8 years = –£58.81  

Total average annual costs over 8 years = £292.55*

A small 1000cc car would be a typical choice for a commuting ‘second car’ bought for the school run or to get to and from work. For these illustrative costs we have used figures taken from this RAC document.
Cost of car:                                         £7450
Annual cost over 8 years:                £931.25
Running costs
Servicing, replacement parts          £890.00
Insurance                                           £300.00
Road tax                                             £30.00
Petrol 8.3p per mile x 2400             £199.20
Resale value 30% of original
£2235 over 8 years                          –£279.38
Total average annual costs over 8 years = £2071.07*

Note * indicates figures calculated without reference to inflation and price increases – I have assumed the rate of price increase would be roughly the same for e-bikes and cars.
Naturally the exact figures for each entry can be debated according to various assumptions but the calculation shows beyond a doubt that e-bikes are cheaper than cars by an order of magnitude when used to replace them.

There may also be some difficult to calculate but very real benefits from using an e-bike over a car – you will get exercise and so may take off less sick days each year and be more productive at work – both tending to increase your earnings potential! And what could be more fun than doing the school (or nursery) run by e-cargo bike.

The bike featured above is one of the Netherlands leading cargo bike brands, Urban Arrow.

E-bike vs Public Transport

Train

A local 10 mile return trip during peak rush hour typically costs between £4 and £8 depending on what area of the country you are in (based on my searches at loco2.com). Making the trip 240 days a year gives total annual expenses of  between £960 and £1920.
Commuting season tickets in particular can be poor value when compared to continental Europe. As this Guardian article points out, fare rises, for part-time workers in particular may start to price commuters off the railways.

Bus

A local 10 mile return trip during peak rush hour typically costs around £4 (depending on what area of the country you are). Making the trip 240 days a year gives total annual expenses of  £960. 

Watch Your Emissions

E-bikes are what is known as ZEV – zero emissions vehicles. So you can tootle along on your e-bike safe in the knowledge you are not poisoning the atmosphere (a previous blog post looked at how concern over NO2 emissions, linked to early deaths could have paved the way for more electric transport). That’s not mentioning other nasties motor vehicles can emit such as oxides of carbon, lead and ozone.
By e-biking and not sitting in a car you may well also be breathing in less pollution as this article points out. To quote  one of the experts in it, air pollution ‘is 9 to 12 times higher inside the car than outside’.
Of course, most e-bikes will be charged from mains electricity, which in the UK includes a contribution from polluting gas-powered stations and very polluting coal-powered stations. But the UK is at least moving in the right direction as regards its energy mix. The ultimate solution for a totally green e-bike is of course to charge it from your own solar panels. Here’s a basic video showing how solar panels could in theory meet the entire energy needs of the world:


But whilst the world struggles towards getting a more sustainable energy mix riding an e-bike is still a superb way to cut down your polluting emissions and use as little energy as possible – which is pretty much bound to save you money against heavier and more energy hungry forms of transport. Just check out the comparison chart below:

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