Startups running electric scooter rentals have used the environmental benefits of their product as a way to woo regulators and riders. A new study by researchers at North Carolina State University is adding some conditions to their claims.
While it’s easily better for the environment to choose an electric scooter over a personally owned car, researchers found that greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile for e-scooter rentals exceeded that of buses with high ridership or personally owned electric bicycles or traditional bicycles.
The biggest environmental burdens for e-scooter rentals include the impacts from materials and manufacturing, collection and distribution, charging and disposal of e-scooters. Given what we know about how long scooters last, researchers even may have given scooter companies too much credit. They studied ranges of scooter lifetimes ranging from six to 24 months. Lime executives told investors late last year its scooters last about four and a half months.