‘You could get a car for that!’ someone will inevitably say, if you point to an e-bike costing £1,000 or more. And they’re right: you could. Yet the e-bike is the better option for getting to work…
Even if the secondhand car and the e-bike are the same price, the e-bike will be cheaper to own and run. Let’s assume a commute of five miles each way, which is 50 miles a week, for 48 weeks a year.
Car costs (approx):
- Purchase price £1,000
- Vehicle Excise Duty £140
- MOT £55
- Insurance £485
- Servicing £200
- Finance £50
- Fuel £375
- Total: £2,305
Fuel costs assume 35mpg – reasonable in urban areas – and petrol at 120p per litre. Finance is the cost of a £1,000 loan over one year at the best available rate according to comparethemarket.com.
E-bike costs (approx)
- Purchase price: £1,000
- Vehichle Excise Duty £0
- MOT £0
- Insurance £80
- Servicing £100
- Finance –£250
- Fuel £5
- Battery depreciation £100
- Total: £1,035
Insurance is optional for the e-bike; £80 is what you might pay via Cycleguard (cycleguard.co.uk). Finance is a negative figure because you would save that amount if you got the e-bike through Cyclescheme as a standard rate taxpayer. Fuel is peanuts: it’s about 10p to recharge the battery, which would last about 50 miles per charge. Batteries need replacing after three or more years, so that’s factored in.
It’s better for you
An e-bike only provides assistance when you pedal. So each working day, you’ll be getting an hour of gentle exercise (10 miles at 10mph) or 40 minutes of moderate exercise (10 miles at 15mph). In a car, you’d be getting no exercise. If your e-bike commute burns a mere 200 calories a day, that’s 48,000 over the year. A pound of body fat is 3,500 calories, so you’d lose nearly a stone!
It’s better for the environment
Car exhaust fumes are a mix of toxic gasses. Carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming, is just one. There’s also carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, hyrdocarbons, and particulate matter. Air pollution in the UK is linked to 40,000 deaths per year. E-bikes produce no roadside emissions and only a tiny amount from electricity generation, although that could be via wind or solar if you pick your energy provider carefully. Cars are also responsible for congestion and noise pollution. E-bikes aren’t.
It’s more convenient
Cars may have a higher top speed than an e-bikes but they spend more time at a standstill. Most of our big cities have average traffic speeds of less than 10mph in the centre and under 15mph within five miles of the centre. An e-bike will cruise at 15mph and you’re more likely to maintain it because you can take quieter, quicker routes. What’s more, a bike will take you door to door, with no need to hunt for (or pay for) a parking space.
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