- Electric scooters are better for the environment than cars, but are less green than other transportation options because of emissions caused by their manufacture, transportation and maintenance, a study from North Carolina State University found.
- Researchers said scooters have greater negative impact on global warming than a bus with high ridership or electric bikes. This is due to the high environmental impact of manufacturing them — mainly in China — and from the companies' use of gas-powered cars and trucks to distribute them across cities. The study did find that riding a scooter is more environmentally friendly than driving a car that has a fuel efficiency of 26 miles per gallon.
- To reduce negative environmental impacts, the report recommends scooter companies make vehicles from more durable materials to ensure a longer scooter lifecycle and provide pick up and drop off of scooters by more energy-efficient vehicles.
This report paints a gloomy picture of the vehicles' effects on climate change — one that contrasts operators' environmentally conscious messaging.
Given that the transportation sector is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, scooter companies will be watched to see if they can cut manufacturing emissions and any other impacts from transporting the vehicles around cities.
In recent months, scooter companies have unveiled new, more durable alternatives in a bid to increase their vehicles' life span, something that this report emphasized.
In early August, Bird announced Bird Two. The company said the new version would have a longer battery life, autonomous damage sensors and puncture proof tires. Spin also announced it would roll out a new scooter model with an extended battery range and increased durability. That company says it expects to offer a "continuous iteration" of scooters to keep up with an evolving market.
But the life span of scooters remains a major issue for their long-term sustainability and their effects on climate. A report from the Boston Consulting Group released in May found that scooters' average life span is three months, often due to reckless riding.
While companies emphasized how rides on their scooters have cut carbon emissions and replaced car trips, this report indicates there is plenty to be done at the start of the process to have a greater impact on the environment.