If you’ve been riding electric scooters provided in your city by any of the rideshare companies, then at some point you may be tempted to buy one for yourself. It’s no wonder, because e-scooters are super fun to ride.
The more you start paying attention to the price of the various electric scooters available on the market, the more you’ll notice that they vary in price quite considerably, ranging from around $100 to well over $1,000. Select models cost well over $2,000. From my own experience, I can say that you can get a decent e-scooter for $400-500.
Whether $400 for a personal micro mobility vehicle is considered expensive will depend on many factors, including your own financial situation. Consider this, if you happen to be spending $5 a day, every day of the month on lattes, then the scooter will cost roughly the equivalent of what you spend on your favourite cup of coffee in three-months time.
Many individuals feel that the price of electric scooters is just about right. The average models are not exceedingly overpriced, while the low-end models are not dirt cheap, either.
No matter what your opinion about the overall price value of scooters is, lets dig deeper and find out what factors contribute to the overall price of an e-scooter.
Why are electric scooters so expensive?
Without a doubt, the single most expensive part of an scooter is the lithium ion battery. Batteries are usually the most expensive components of today’s gadgets, because manufacturers understand that the battery quality and capacity directly translates into the longevity of the electronic device.
In case of electric scooters, potential buyers will make their choice based on the maximum range of the scooter. The higher the capacity of the battery, the longer the range the scooter will have. There are other factors that contribute to the range, such as the motor, but the battery is the single most important component.
In general, manufacturers of electric devices, including electric scooters, do not publish the costs of production of whatever it might be that they are producing. So I did a little homework to get at least some ball-park figures.
Basically, I searched for the costs of various replacement parts for various electric scooters available in popular online stores. I analyzed the data, averaged the prices to come up with a rough estimate of the cost of individual e-scooter components based on the total purchase price of a complete scooter.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Lithium battery: 25-30%
- Electric motor: 10%
- Electric charger: 10%
- Dashboard + internal circuit board: 10-15%
- Tires (two): 5%
- Metal frame/body: 8%
- Export/import duty + shipping: 25%
- Company margin: <10%
You may be thinking that a duty and shipping estimate of 25% is high, consider that in early 2019 the European Union imposed duties on electric bikes that were as high as 79.3%. So far, we have not heard of any plans of introducing a similar disastrous duty on electric scooters.
What parts will require replacement?
Below is a list of parts that may need replacement at some point:
Lithium ion battery: as with most electronic devices that use batteries, eScooter lithium ion batteries will need replacement at some point. I’ve found that my Xiaomi M365 has a relatively good battery that keeps the charge well and after about a year of use is still going strong, but I suspect that within the next 1-2 years I will need to replace it. I’ve heard of users who had to replace their battery after 2 years of use. Obviously, the health of the battery largely depends on how well it is maintained. While in case of lithium ion batteries it is not as crucial as with other battery types, they still will last longer if properly maintained.
Tires: if your scooter is equipped with solid rubber tires, then you will only need to worry about thread usage which will get affected by the amount of distance travelled.
However, if your scooter has inflatable tires, such as my M365, then you will no doubt experience a flat tire at some point. I would say that based on my own past experience, flat tires are the most troublesome features of the M365. While inflatable tires make the ride smoother than solid tires, they are prone to punctures. Fixing a flat tire is relatively inexpensive, but I don’t see anyone being able to fix it right on the spot on the side of the road. For one, you’ll have to carry a spare and tools with you at all times, but what’s even more important is that the procedure of replacing a tire is relatively time-consuming and somewhat difficult. I find that a microwave oven helps in the process (I will explain this in another post where I’ll be showing how to replace a tire in an e-scooter).
Fender: the rear fender, which in some models may feature a brake light, may get broken. It is used for braking in some models. In the case of M365 that I own, I found that with regular use, the wire that runs on the inside of the fender (between fender and the tire) gets damaged. It is a relatively easy fix, but you will need some time to correct that. Additionally, there are protective panels available online that will prevent wire damage in the future. I highly recommend getting one for the M365, especially if you happen to be using the rear brake often.
Electronic display: although I personally have not had any problems with it (even in rain), some users report that their electronic displays malfunction after riding their eScooter in the rain for an extended period of time. Again, you can get a replacement online for a relatively low price, the actual process of replacing the part may get somewhat time-consuming, especially if you are not good with electric and wires. The bottom line is that it is doable and in most cases should not require a visit to a specialized repair shop.
Why do e-scooters use lithium-ion batteries?
Lithium-ion battery, although expensive, is the choice of today’s electronic manufacturers. This type of batteries has many benefits not seen in other types of batteries.
Here are a few of the major advantages of Li-ion batteries:
High energy density. This is the amount of energy being stored in a battery. In simple terms, the higher the energy density, the more power a battery can hold. Lithium-ion batteries have high energy density allowing them to hold much more energy than other battery types.
Fast charging. Without going into the intricate and boring details, the overall Li-ion battery design allows for fast charging, something that’s not found in lead-acid batteries.
Charge efficiency. This is the amount of energy stored in a battery that can be used to power a device. Li-ion batteries have a 99% charge efficiency, Nickel Cadmium (NiCad) have about 91%, while lead-acid batteries have about 85% charge efficiency. This means that only 85% of the energy stored in a lead-acid battery will be available to run your electronic gadget, the remaining 15% of energy simply gets lost in the process.
Charge memory. This is a process of decreasing a battery’s capacity when recharging from less than a full discharge. In other words, if you take a Ni-Cad battery, discharge it to 50% and then recharge, this battery will start losing it’s capacity. The next few times you try to use you, you will notice that it only holds about 50% of the charge it used to hold. Fortunately, lithium-ion batteries do not have a charge memory. This is a tremendous advantage, not only because it makes these batteries more dependable, but also because it saves people money in the long run.
Charge cycles. This is a general indication of a given battery’s longevity. A charge cycle is defined as the process of completely charging a rechargeable battery and discharging it by some amount. A complete charge cycle is when you take a fully charged battery and discharge it completely. Half a cycle is when you take a fully charged battery and discharge it to 50%, you get the idea. Now, here’s the key information. Let’s say you have a fully charged battery that you discharge by roughly 33% and then recharge it back to its full capacity – that’s only one-third of a charge cycle. You would need to do this three times to do a complete charge cycle. Another practical and important point is that, for example, if your e-scooter battery is being advertised as a 1,000 cycle battery, it does not mean that you will need to get a replacement after 1,000 cycles. It means that once the battery passes this number, it’s capacity will begin to deteriorate to a lesser or greater extent. Nonetheless, charge cycles are an indication of battery’s life expectancy.
Calibration. If you’ve been using rechargeable batteries in the past, you may remember being told to always completely discharge your new battery before charging it fully. This process is called calibration and was needed to extend the functionality of older type batteries. Li-ion batteries do not need calibration adding one more item to their list of benefits.
Keep in mind that lithium-ion and lithium batteries are not the same. Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable, while lithium batteries are not rechargeable.
As with most purchases, we the customers, tend to feel that the cost of goods we are purchasing is too high. To be honest, it’s perfectly understandable. Most consumers are not involved in the process of development, production, delivery and sale of goods. As a result, we lack the insight of the entire process and costs associated with it.
It appears that in today’s world market economy, the price of goods is the single most important predictor of success. Reluctantly, I must admit that it appears that the price even beats the quality of goods. I tend to believe that most manufacturers tend to sacrifice quality for price. Afterall, the price is clearly marked, while the quality of items may not be immediately apparent to the customer.
As far as e-scooters are concerned, the competition is fairly young, but with some strong contenders. I am fairly convinced that the manufacturers are selling scooters at the absolute minimum price possible. I wonder, however, to what extent this will impact the quality of e-scooters. It’s still too early to tell which brand makes the best quality electric scooters, but I’m sure we will find out in a relatively short period of time.