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E-Scooters Can Be Greener

After the scientific article from North Carolina State University (NCSU) claiming that e-scooters have rather high environmental impacts in especially the production phase and the use phase last year [1], EY reported a drastically reduced environmental impact from Voi’s latest e-scooters [2].

Whether e-scooters are green or not has been on the debate in the media since the very first day they hit the European market. The report from NCSU claims that 50 percent of an e-scooter’s total environmental impact over its lifetime comes from the production phase: mining aluminium and manufacturing all the vehicle components. The report claims a 202 g CO2 equivalent per passenger per mile impact from e-scooters [1].

A half-year later, EY’s new report Micromobility: Moving cities into a more sustainable future suggests something different. The report highlights that micromobility has started to change the way city dwellers move through cities. Besides, by studying the data from Voi’s e-scooters in Paris, EY showed that Voi’s new e-scooters now have an environmental impact of 35 g CO2 equivalent per person per kilometre, which is on par with many public transport alternatives. Moreover, the adoption of swappable batteries and the use of cargo bikes to handle charging have significantly reduced emissions by 51 percent during the usage phase.  

EY pointed out that e-scooters are used four times more frequently than e-bikes. Since the launch in California back in 2017, e-scooters have travelled across 53 countries and left footprints in 626 cities. A combination with other public transport options in one trip is common, according to Voi’s users. Today, there are over 20 million users across Europe [2]. 

 

Personal Comments

With an accumulated 30 million trips across the continents in two years, e-scooters must have been one of the most fast-growing transport modals in this decade. One of the shortcomings of NCSU’s article is that it lacks the multimodal perspective and also the shared model versus privately-owned vehicles. By putting more focus on these perspectives, EY’s report found a drastic tenfold reduction of emissions with Voi’s operation and showed a significant improvement in the environmental impact when users do combine their trips with public transport options.

Since the production is still responsible for the largest part of the total environmental impact, prolonging the lifetime of e-scooters and compensating with low emission operation is crucial. Voi’s achievement in reducing emissions of their fleets in Paris is remarkable. I hope they would be able to expand this measure to other cities and even inspire other competitors to together bring a greener profile for e-scooters.

 

Written by Anne Faxér, RISE.

 

Sources

1. 2019-08-12. Trendy e-scooters might not be as green as they seem.

2. 2020-03-16. EY Report on Micromobility Shows VOI’s Latest Scooters Have 71% Lower Impact on the Environment.