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Research: Zero Emissions? Think Again. Electric Scooters Contribute CO²

Electric scooters are coined as being emission free but we have revealed their true environmental impact. Want to find out more? Keep reading.

We calculated the CO² per kwh for delivered electricity and combined this with the time needed to charge an electric scooter to travel one mile. This revealed the amount of CO² released to produce the electrical charge needed per mile when riding an electric scooter. The amount of CO² released per mile was then multiplied by the total miles traveled on electric scooters to uncover the environmental impact in 2018.

146.21 Grams of CO² Released Every Mile on an Electric Scooter

Electric scooters may not directly emit emissions while being ridden but they do contribute to greenhouse gases once you factor in the environmental impact of charging the scooters.

Shared electric scooters, on average, take 6 hours to fully charge and have the battery power to be ridden for 20 miles. This equates to a charge time of 18 minutes per mile. Combined with the 487.37 grams of CO² emitted per kwh, the electricity needed to charge a scooter per mile results in the release of 146.21 grams of CO².

Electric Scooters Contributed 9,308 Tons of CO² in 2018

There are more Americans riding micromobility devices today than at any point in the past.

In fact, the National Association of City Transportation Officials revealed that 84 million trips were taken on shared micromobility in 2018, more than double 2017 figures. With the widespread popularity, 38.5 million of those trips were taken on electric scooters.

As U.S. citizens increasingly opt to travel by the ‘last-mile’ alternative to traditional transport methods, the number of hours needed to charge the scooters continues to increase to keep up with demand.

Electric scooter riders average 1.5 miles per trip and when combined with the 38.5 million trips, approximately 57.8 million miles were traveled on electric scooters in 2018. The extensive use of electric scooters has therefore, had a direct effect on the environment resulting in the release of 9,308 Tons of CO², equivalent to the energy use of an average house for 650 years.

Electric Scooters Contribute 59% Less CO² Per Mile Than the Average Car

Although electric scooters contributed 9,308 Tons of CO² in 2018, this is far less than what the potential environmental impact could have been if electric scooters were not introduced. If those 57.8 million miles were completed by traditional transport methods (cars), the amount of CO² emitted would be more than double (22,720 tons).

Despite not being a completely clean method of transportation, they contribute 59% less CO² compared to the average car in America (356.91 grams of CO² per mile).

Josh Frisby, founder of Electric Scooter Insider comments:

“Electric scooters don't emit pollutants from their tailpipes but that doesn't mean they don't contribute to pollution. The source of the pollution comes from the environmental impact of producing and delivering the electricity needed to charge the devices.

So, when considering the environmental impact you can look at it in two ways. The first is by tailpipe emissions where electric scooters can claim to have zero emissions. On the other hand, when you factor in the CO² per kilowatt-hour, electric scooters do, in fact, contribute to greenhouse gases, albeit 59% less than the CO² released through gasoline consumption.

Currently, 17.1% of U.S. electricity generation comes from renewable sources but as the popularity of electric vehicles grows, it becomes ever more important that the U.S. invests in greener ways to generate electricity to reduce CO² emissions.”


Josh Frisby
Josh Frisby

From basic budget and feature-packed commuters to all-terrain trailblazers and ultra-performance behemoths, I've spent the last 5 years testing every type of electric scooter. All of the scooters that I review are put through a rigorous review process so that I can clearly distinguish where one is better or worse than another. See how I test electric scooters or check out my guide to the best electric scooters. Contact me anytime:

Electric Scooter Insider