Why Should I Buy an eBike: Comparing the Environmental Costs of a Roadster eBike versus a Car

Climate change is the greatest challenge facing humans today.  There is no easy, one-size-fits-all approach to tackling it; but one tactic involves changing the way we get around by reducing our dependence on cars.  

To encourage that transition, we designed the Roadster eBike to be as easy to use as a car.  We want it to be effortless and convenient to choose riding over driving.  When weighing up whether to buy an ebike to replace your car or as an alternative, one cost to consider is the environment.  

In this post, we will compare the environmental costs of a Roadster eBike versus a Toyota Corolla.  Be sure to check out our other posts looking at the financial costs and convenience costs of ebikes versus cars. 

Environmental Footprint

There are two areas that a car and electric bike will create greenhouse gases:

  1. During their lifecycle: production —> end-of-life (recycling/disposal)
  2. During their use.

Carbon Footprint From Production

When we began Tiller Rides, one of the first steps we took was to have a Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) performed on the Roadster's design to work out the greenhouse gases emitted from production. 

This is often called the embodied energy. It includes emissions from mining and processing of natural resources to manufacturing, transport and product delivery, and then recycling and disposing of the other parts.

The sources of emissions from producing a Tiller Rides Roadster

According to our LCA, the production and recycling of a Roadster produces 149 kilograms of greenhouse emissions.

In comparison, a small car such as a Toyota Corolla, produces around 8500 kilograms of greenhouse emissions in its production.

A small car produces 56 times more greenhouse emissions in its production than a Roadster. (As you can imagine, a larger vehicle will produce higher emissions.) 

Carbon Footprint From Use

Our LCA determined that if a Roadster was charged with coal-fired electricity, it would produce approximately 17.4 grams of greenhouse emissions per kilometer.

Compare that to a Toyota Corolla hatch, one of the smaller petrol cars. According to the Australian Green Vehicle Guide, the Toyota Corolla hatch produces around 140 grams of greenhouse emissions per kilometer. An automatic transmission Corolla is slightly better at 97 grams per kilometer. 

A small car has therefore 5-8 times more impact on climate change than the Roadster charged with coal power.

The environmental cost of using a car is even worse when the Roadster is charged by renewable energy.  For example, if you charge your Roadster off solar power, it produces around 0.1 grams of greenhouse emissions per kilometer – 1,400 times less emissions than the Toyota Corolla.

Comparing emissions from use


Payback Period

Another way to compare the environmental impact between a Roadster eBike and Toyota Corolla is to look at the payback period.  This considers how far you need to ride or drive to pay for the entire lifecycle of emissions.

As shown below, you would need to ride the Roadster 1,000 kilometers to offset its entire lifecycle of emissions.  Most users of a Roadster would cover 1,000 kilometers in 6 to 12 months.


Cumulative emissions from use


Final Thoughts: A Cleaner Ride

Any way you measure it, the Roadster eBike has significantly less impact on the environment compared to a small car.  This gets even more dramatic when you use renewable energy to power your Roadster. 

If you are looking for a clean, green way of getting around town, you can certainly put the Tiller Rides Roadster on the list. 

By Julian Ilich - Co-Founder of Tiller Rides