Electric scooters have been on the streets for a relatively short period of time. Since their introduction people began to hate them, others fell in love with them. No matter what your views are, you may still be interested in knowing how long a typical e-scooter will last, especially if you are considering purchasing one.
In order to properly discuss the lifespan of electric scooters, they should first be separated into rideshare and privately-owned scooters, because the difference in the lifespan between the two groups is tremendous.
The average lifespan of an electric scooter
Rideshare electric scooters have an average lifespan of 1-5 months. Privately-owned e-scooters with proper care and maintenance tend to last at least 2-3 years, likely much longer than that.
Above are the numbers that I came up with and here’s what I did to get them. Since rideshare companies do not publish information about the longevity of their electric scooter fleet, I searched a bit deeper. I found a smaller rideshare company operating in Europe (in countries with both warm and cold climate) that was actively pursuing investors on a franchise basis. They listed the cost of each scooter, potential profit, but they also listed the lifespan of an e-scooter at “approximately 5 months”. This information has to be reliable, if anything, I would assume that the real number may be a bit lower than 5 months. After all, they are trying to sell it to investors, so they have to present a brighter picture, but one that is still realistic.
On the other hand, there was a report published online of an analysis which estimated that the average lifespan of a Bird e-scooter is just shy of one month. It is a reasonable finding and a bit shocking at first, but one has take into account that at that time, Bird used stock Xiaomi M365 e-scooters, which are not heavy-duty by any account. Since then, Bird and others have bulked up their fleets with more customized e-scooters that are more durable. However, to add truth to my estimate I decided to give the e-scooter a lifespan of 1 to 5 months, because these are the numbers that actually exist.
Privately-owned e-scooters have a completely different lifespan that is nowhere near as short as that of the rideshare companies. One of the big names in e-scooters, Xiaomi M365, has been around for nearly 3 years. There is not many reports of people dumping their e-scooter. I think this is in part due to the fact that private owners take a better care of their electric scooters. Obviously individual parts break and need to get fixed, but I personally do not know anyone whose M365 would simply die from overuse. In most cases, the scooters are not as heavily used as their rideshare counterparts, so they last much longer.
Factors that decrease the lifespan of an electric scooter
Rideshare e-scooters are kept outdoors most of the time. They are tools of business actively engaged, rain or shine. Considering that they are not waterproof, most are rated IP54, it’s only a matter of time when water will destroy its electrical components. Water will also negatively affect the electric motor, brakes and wheel bearings.
Besides water, e-scooters are also exposed to dust. Tiny particles that will find their way into the smallest nooks and crannies. When too much dust gets into the components of the electric motor, the scooter may become severely damaged.
Temperature extremes also play a role. Lithium-ion batteries can be easily damaged if exposed to very high temperatures. Electric motor, on the other hand, will need to work harder when operated in cold temperatures.
Rideshare e-scooters are notorious for being parked almost anywhere, including sidewalks and busy streets. Once parked, they fall down quite often hitting hard concrete sidewalk. All these shocks decrease their lifespan.
Another factor that will undoubtedly lead to a shorter life of an e-scooter is careless riding. Too many people simply don’t care about the rideshare electric scooter that they are riding. Excess weight, potholes, rocks and curbs all contribute to a shorter lifespan of an e-scooter and should be considered.
Learn more riding tips.
Electric scooter parts that tend to break
Battery. By virtue of their function, batteries are prone to break for two reasons. First, every battery has a lifespan given in charge cycles. Each time you completely discharge a fully charged battery, you’ve lost one charge cycle from its lifespan. So, it is only a matter of time until the e-scooter’s lithium-ion battery will need replacement.
The second reason why battery may need to be replaced is that it can get physically damaged. Rough riding, riding in rain or through puddles or falls, all can physically damage the battery. Take my M365 for example, the battery is located in the base of the scooter. It is only protected from the elements by a base plate cover. The actual battery cells are wrapped in clear plastic wrap, which offers little protection.
Rear light & wiring. Some e-scooters are equipped with a rear light mounted on the fender. It is connected to the battery through a wire that runs on the inner side of the fender, in-between the battery and the fender. This leads to a quite common problem in which the wire gets damaged by the tire and the rear light stops working. It may also cause a short-circuit and damage other parts of the electrical system. Fortunately, there are custom protectors available on the market, that will protect the wire.
Handlebar. More specifically, the latch that is part of the folding mechanism tends to get loose or even break with time. Some users report this to happen within as little as the first few months of use. Others have experienced it after a longer period of time (>1 year). Nonetheless, it is a serious safety issue no matter when it occurs. The are some fixes available in the aftermarket.
Rear fender. The rear-mounted fender is a movable part in most electric scooters. It is rarely protected by additional support. Either way, it does tend to break if you are not careful. It breaks when a force is applied from the side. Theoretically you could still ride you electric scooter without the fender, but you will have to be careful not to stick your foot in-between the tire and the base of the scooter. You will also get dirty, especially if you try to ride in wet conditions. There are additional fender supports that you can purchase online to prevent this issue from happening. Once again, this only applies to those models that come without side supports for the fender.
Tires. It should come as no surprise when I say that electric scooters come with either air-filled or solid rubber tires. The Segway Ninebot is an example of an e-scooter that uses solid rubber tires. The benefits of solid tires is that they will not get flat. However, the ride is not as smooth as with air-filled tires. Air-filled tires, on the other hand, do get punctured but offer a more comfortable ride. The problem of flat tires is actually fairly common. There are some tips that you can follow to minimize the risk of your tire going flat, but I will discuss that in another post.
No matter what type of tires your electric scooter uses, it is generally recommended that tires be replaced annually. This has mainly to do with the thread being worn. Worn tires do not hold to the road as well and increase the risk of an accident and injury.
How to improve the lifespan of an electric scooter?
Maintenance. Regular maintenance is key at improving the lifespan of almost any device, including electric scooters. Fortunately, e-scooter maintenance is not complicated, nor very time-consuming. I will discuss maintenance in greater detail in a separate post, so at this moment lets just talk about a few main issues. It is generally recommended that the tire pressure be checked on a weekly basis. Dust off and wipe dry the scooter whenever it becomes dirty or wet.
Battery. Since the batteries used in today’s electric scooters are lithium-ion, there isn’t a whole lot that you have to do to maintain it properly. Just remember a few things. Keep the battery away from extreme temperatures. Li-ion batteries tend to be particularly sensitive to high temperatures. Keep the battery away from water. Avoid riding in the rain, but if you must, then avoid puddles.
Lube. You should lube the rolling mechanism approximately every 3 months. Specific timeframe for lube & grease will really depend on your riding conditions. The more dirt and water your e-scooter was exposed to, the sooner you will need to grease it.
Storage. Keep your e-scooter indoors, whenever you can. As mentioned earlier, e-scooters do not go well with high temperatures or water. For these reasons, they should be kept away from direct sunlight and rain. I personally usually don’t worry too much about an occasional rain drizzle or direct sunlight, but it is not my habit to constantly leave my M365 out in the sun or rain.
Nuts and bolts. I usually tighten a few nuts and bolts every two months or so. If I happened to be riding on uneven surface or off-road, then I’ll check the tightness as soon as I get home. It literally takes less than a minute to do so. Nothing complicated.
Careful riding. The way you ride has a direct effect on the longevity of your e-scooter. The reason why rideshare scooters have a lifespan of only a few months is in part due to the way people ride them. Some don’t know how to, others simply don’t care.
E-scooter riding tips:
- Ride at constant speed, avoid accelerating/decelerating too much
- Do not ride in rain or snow
- Avoid uneven surfaces and potholes
- Do not carry more weight than your e-scooter can handle
- Avoid riding or storing your scooter at extreme temperatures (high and low) and in the rain
What parts of an e-scooter can be easily fixed at home
Complicated repairs are best left for the professionals. Fortunately, some of the most common issues that users come across can be fixed at home with relatively little effort.
Loose nuts and bolts can be easily tightened using a hex wrench that came with your e-scooter. The process takes only a minute.
Battery replacement is a relatively common occurrence that can also be easily done. Most electric scooters have the battery located in the base. All you have to do is unscrew the base plate, unplug the battery, connect a new one and close the base plate. That’s all.
Rear fender replacement is an easy fix, as well. Depending on your scooter, you will have to unscrew 1-3 screws that are holding the fender. In some models you may also have to disconnect and then reconnect the rear light. The overall process is straight-forward.
Flat or worn tires can also be replaced without professional help, but the process is a bit more complicated. I would suggest that you watch an instructional video that talks about the process of tire replacement specifically for your model of a scooter.
When considering the average lifespan of an electric scooter, one of the key points is to consider how well was the scooter used and maintained. While rideshare e-scooters may only last a few months, individuals who are considering buying one for their private use, should rest assured that with normal use and regular maintenance an electric scooter is expected to last many years.
I’ve owned my M365 for nearly two years and have traveled almost 900 miles (1,430 km) on it. That’s a distance from Miami to Washington DC! I am also aware of individuals who have clocked more than 10,000 km (6,000 miles) on their Xiaomi M365s, which is very inspiring.
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