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

Updated: Mar 6, 2020

By integrating all the needed features that others call accessories, the Tiller Rides Roadster is a convenient car (or second car) replacement for many everyday trips - especially for trips within 5 kilometres of home or to work if it isn’t too far away.

As a car replacement, it is interesting to compare a Roadster and a small car 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 compares the cost of using an electric bike vs a car for everyday urban transport. We also have other posts that compare environmental footprint and convenience.

Running cost comparison

The car - Corolla

To help their one million+ members understand the true cost of motoring in Western Australia, the RAC (WA) have calculated the cost per week of owning a range of cars.

According to the RAC calculations, the running cost of a new Corolla over the first five years of its life is approximately $37,000 or $143 per week. This calculation assumes that the car is owned from new, bought with a car loan, has comprehensive insurance, is serviced regularly, drives 12,000 kilometres per year in private use, and is sold five years later for around 50% of the purchase price. Below is an extract from their calculation.

RAC running costs calculation for the Toyota Corolla
RAC running costs calculation - Toyota Corolla

The electric bike - Roadster

To work out the approximate annual running costs for an electric bike we performed the same calculation for the Tiller Rides Roadster using the same assumptions the RAC used for the Corolla - it is insured, bought with a loan, does 12,000 kilometres a year (which is a lot of riding) etc - and in addition, included a battery replacement at 36,000 kilometres (600 charges at an average of 60 kilometre per charge).

The result of this ‘apples for apples’ comparison is that the total running cost over the first five years for a Roadster would be around $7,525 or a weekly cost of $28.95. It is important to note here that most people don’t ride an electric bike this far in a year, buy one with a loan or insure it, so the actual cost of owning a Roadster would be much less than this.

Running costs calculation for the Tiller Rides Roadster
Running costs calculation - Tiller Rides Roadster

Other costs

To do a more comprehensive cost comparison, it is worth also considering other costs associated with using a car such as parking and health.

Parking costs

One of the most appealing things about using an electric bike in a city is that you don’t have to pay to park it. In comparison, a car needs to be parked in some form of car park which either costs the driver or the company who owns the parking space.

If you work in the central business district (CBD) and you the driver has to pay, it can cost around $10 - $17 per day for parking (based on rates in our home city of Perth, Western Australia). If you need to park your car five days a week, the cost of parking adds up to around $50 - $85 a week or $2300 - $3910 per year.

Health and wellbeing costs

Another great benefit of using an electric bike for getting around your a city or town is that you can integrate mild exercise into everyday activities. The level of exercise can be controlled by the assist level setting meaning that you can do very little or a lot of exercise depending on how hot and sweaty you are prepared to get.

What I have personally found is that even though it is much less effort to ride a Roadster as compared to my regular push bike I use the Roadster a lot more than I ever used my regular bike. The combination of a little bit here and a little bit there throughout the week means that I can maintain a good fitness level.

Kick the gym

By integrating exercise into everyday activities, an electric bike can mean that you no longer need to do intentional exercise. For those who do their regular exercise at a gym, this can mean ending that gym membership.

According to research by Canstar, the average Australian does not get the most out of their gym membership because of a lack of free time. By enabling you to get from A-to-B and do some exercise at the same time, an electric bike is the perfect solution for a time poor person. With the average gym-going Australian spending around $780 a year on their ‘under utilised’ gym membership this is a significant cost-of-living saving.

Medical cost savings

It is impossible to put an accurate price on the cost of being unhealthy but we all know that staying fit and healthy is much cheaper than the opposite. A quick bit of googling can easily find a host of articles about the cost of poor health because of increased spending on medical costs and losses in income earning potential. While these articles all make a range of cost predictions all estimates are in the thousands of dollars per year.

Health system costs

In an attempt to put a number on the costs of poor health to a countries medical system, in 2017 the World Health Organization published a report on the costs of unhealthy diets and low physical activity. What they found was that poor health costs Australia around $100 per person per year or $2.4 billion in total annually.

Take a six month long holiday every five years

Let’s assume for a moment that you are fit and healthy, don’t spend over $700 a year on a gym, don’t spend over $2,000 on CBD parking and only have a small car (no electric bike). Let’s also assume that you earn the average Australian income of $80,000 and so have a take home income of around $63,000.

If this is you, the $30,000 saving in running costs you could make by using an electric bike instead of your car for most of your everyday transport would equate to having a six month long holiday every five years. That’s an interesting thought to have next time you are sitting in traffic watching the ever increasing number of electric bikes ride past...

By Julian Ilich - Co-Founder of Tiller Rides

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