How efficient is an EV car versus an e-bike or even a e-scooter?
EVs are undeniably more efficient compared to polluting gasoline/petrol or diesel cars.
But how well does a electric car stack up for efficiency against an e-bike or even a e-scooter?? Let’s run some numbers and find out. The winner might surprise you…
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We compare the efficiency of different types of electric vehicles:
- SUV – Audi e-Tron (95kWh)
- Family hatchback – Hyundai Ioniq Electric (40kWh)
- City car – Citroen Ami (2 seat)
- e-Cargo bike – Riese and Muller (0.5kWh)
- e-MTB mountain bike – KTM
- e-scooter – Xiaomi M365
We’re assessing efficiency purely in terms of amount of m/kWh (miles per kWh of energy) to transport 1 person. And also the relative energy cost per mile using a home charging tariff of £0.15 per kWh unit.
We’re not considering factors such as number of occupants, range, purchase cost or cargo carrying capacity (although we do touch on this near the end of the podcast).
Before producing this episode we had a firm opinion of what the least efficient and most efficient EVs would be.
The SUV would be the least efficient, and unsurprisingly this turned out to be the case. We assumed the e-Scooter would be the best, because of its relative light weight (12kg) and small battery and motor. But it wasn’t.
In fact the e-MTB (mountain bike) won this race, and by a large margin. The e-scooter turned out to have efficiency fairly similar to the e-Cargo bike, which is a much larger and heavier vehicle.
But the e-MTB, in bike terms, really isn’t that efficient. It’s heavy – mine is a 2017 model – newer ones have smaller and lighter motors. The wheels at 27.5″ aren’t the biggest, and the tyres are wide and knobbly with a lot of rolling resistance. And it has the Bosch CX Performance motor which is fantastic for ripping up steep gradients, but overkill for the average commute.
A hybrid is even more efficient. Taking an example 2021 e-Bike Raleigh Motus, a 0.4kWh battery has a published 75 mile range. Let’s assume a real world 60 miles – so that’s 150 miles/kWh efficiency. 50% better than my e-MTB! And with a rack you’ll have no problem with cargo of around 20kg.
Battery Capacity (kWh)
Real World range (M)
Miles per kWh
Cost per mile (pence)
Audi E-tron 55
Riese & Muller e-CargoBike
KTM Macina Action e-MTB
Xiaomi M365 e-Scooter
SO THE WINNERS ARE…
FOR TRANSPORTING 1 PERSON: e-Bike
At 100 miles per kWh the e-bike is the most efficient by some distance. Cost to run is a micro-sized 0.15 pence/mile. However the MTB example we’ve used in our comparison is beaten by the 50% more efficient hybrid bike.
FOR TRANSPORTING CARGO: e-CargoBike
With a payload of 350kg combined with a cost per mile of around 0.25 pence it’s the easy winner. Ideal for last mile deliveries in and around cities, able to avoid traffic jams and often able to achive higher average point-to-point speeds than a car or van in congested cities (before covid lockdown..). Larger battery sizes are available for increased range.
5 people could take a journey in the SUV. Or the same 5 people could separately ride on their own hybrid e-bike. The 5 bikes would still overall have 12x better efficiency than the SUV. Add to that the proven fitness and wellbeing benefits.