Electric bike vs car: The environmental benefits of using an electric bike instead of a car

Updated: Mar 6, 2020

The Tiller Rides Roadster is an electric bike specifically designed to be as easy to use as a car. By integrating all the needed features that others call accessories, the Roadster is a convenient car (or second car) replacement - especially for trips within five kilometers of home or to work if it isn’t too far away.

As a car replacement, it is interesting to compare the Tiller Rides Roadster with the Toyota Corolla on several key fronts that people consider important when choosing how to get from A to B - environmental footprint, cost, and convenience.

This Post from the Bridge looks at the environmental comparison - other posts will compare at cost and convenience.

Environmental footprint

Climate change is the greatest challenge facing humans today. There are two areas that a car and electric bike will create the climate change causing greenhouse gases:

1. During their production (and recycling/disposal)

2. During their use.

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

A breakdown of the sources of emissions from producing a Tiller Rides Roadster
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 therefore produces 56 times more greenhouse emissions in its production than a Roadster and a larger car would be even more.

Footprint from use

While the embodied energy is an important consideration, for a car the emissions from use are 5 times the emissions from production.

Our LCA determined that if a Roadster was charged with coal fired electricity, its emissions per kilometer would be around 17.4 grams of greenhouse emissions per kilometer.

According to the Australian Green Vehicle Guide, the emissions from driving the smallest petrol powered Toyota Corolla hatch are around 140 grams per kilometer.

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

The car looks even worse when the Roadster is charged from renewable energy, for example by charging during the day when rooftop solar is working. In this case, the Roaster produces around 0.1 grams of emissions per kilometer - 1400 times less emissions than the Toyota Corolla.

A graph comparing emissions from use between the Tiller Rides Roadster and a Toyota Corolla
Comparing emissions from use

Payback period

Another way to compare the differences between the environmental impact of the Roadster vs the Corolla, is to work out how far you would have to ride it instead of taking the car to pay for its entire lifecycle of emissions.

As shown in the graph below from the Life Cycle Assessment, you would just have to ride the Roadster 1000 kilometers instead of taking a small Corolla to offset for its entire lifecycle of emissions. Most users of a Roadster would cover 1000 kilometers in 6 to 12 months.

A graph showing the cumulative emissions from use when comparing a Tiller Rides Roadster with a Toyota Corolla car.
Cumulative emissions from use

A cleaner ride

As the above assessment shows, using a Roadster for everyday transport has significantly less impact on the environment compared to a small car - especially when charged with renewable energy.

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

Pre-order the Tiller Rides Roadster

Learn more about the features on a Tiller Rides Roadster


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