Finding easier and more efficient ways to get from one place to another is every commuter’s continuous objective. So far, when it comes to private commuting, a car is the best option – drivers who own the vehicle need not stop for other passengers, squeeze themselves in between other people, or rush themselves to get to the bus stop.
Recently, however, e-bikes have been growing in popularity and are becoming a preferred alternative to cars by many. Though it doesn’t provide the same luxury and features that cars have, many use it because it’s more eco-friendly.
Let’s take a look at the environmental impact that both vehicles have.
Cars vs. E-Bike – How We’ll Compare Them
Here, we’ll discuss which vehicle is better for the environment – cars or e-bikes. In order to do so, we will be comparing the following:
- Carbon Emissions
- Energy Consumption
- Air Pollution
One car produces 400 grams of carbon dioxide per mile – which, at first glance, may not seem much. But according to the National Transportation Research Group, in 2020, New York’s transportation system “carried 102 billion annual vehicle miles of travel.“ Moreover, in a New York Daily News report, they estimated that around 4.4 million cars travel through NYC daily.
And New York City is just one busy city in the country for reference. Because on a global scale, carbon emissions are produced by cars by hundreds and thousands more – as there are 4.4 billion cars in use worldwide.
The good thing is, that more electric cars are available to use as an alternative to fuel-powered vehicles. However, even hybrid and electric cars produce carbon dioxide. According to the MIT Climate Portal, hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars produce 260 grams of carbon dioxide per mile. Meanwhile, a fully battery-operated car emits 200 grams.
An e-bike, on the other hand, has a carbon footprint of 3.2 to 8 grams per mile. Though there isn’t an accurate survey yet as to how many e-bikes are currently used by commuters, the European Cyclists’ Federation and the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry estimated that in 2019, 3.7 million e-bikes were sold. They also expect more people to buy e-bikes.
How They Compare
Whether it’s fuel-powered, hybrid, or fully electric (or battery-operated), e-bikes still produce less carbon dioxide than cars – but there are also fewer e-bikes used by people currently. Still, had the ratio between e-bikes and cars been the same, e-bikes would still produce fewer carbon emissions.
Two of the most common fuels used in cars are gasoline (petrol) and diesel fuel. That said, the average fuel consumption of a vehicle is somewhere around six to ten liters per hundred kilometers. And when cars burn fossil fuels, it also releases carbon dioxide that contributes to greenhouse gas.
Fortunately, electric cars don’t need fossil fuels to work – but that doesn’t mean they leave no carbon footprint. Typically, an electric car will use over 7,000 watts per charge. And it usually takes eight hours for it to be fully charged.
While an e-bike doesn’t run on fuel, it does need to be charged to work. On average, an e-bike consumes 200 to 500 watts of power per charge. Once it’s fully charged, which, on average, takes 3.5 to 6 hours, the e-bike can run between 20 to 60 miles.
How They Compare
Burning fossil fuel through using a fuel-powered car contributes to greenhouse gasses – but so do electric vehicles, albeit less. But if we compare the amount of power it takes to power an e-bike and an electric car, the e-bike consumes less wattage and takes fewer hours to fully charge. Therefore, e-bikes are more energy-efficient.
Besides carbon dioxide, cars also produce carbon monoxide. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, passenger cars, on average, produce about 4.6 metric tons of carbon monoxide annually.
As most people are aware, carbon monoxide negatively affects a person’s health when they inhale it, but it also impacts the environment – as it contributes to global warming; carbon monoxide makes up some of the compounds in smog that we usually see in busy cities.
Perhaps the most significant difference between cars and e-bikes is that the latter does not produce carbon monoxide – as it doesn’t have an internal combustion engine since it runs on electricity.
How They Compare
When it comes to the two modes of transportation’s effect on air quality, without a doubt, an e-bike is far superior – as it produces no carbon monoxide that can affect people’s health, the cityscape’s panorama, and the environment as a whole.
It’s worth noting that when comparing the environmental impact of both modes of transportation, we’re looking into which vehicle harms the environment less. After all, there’s barely a vehicle that leaves zero carbon footprint.
Cars are more commonly used than e-bikes. However, there’s a significant distinction between both vehicles’ impact on the environment.
|Fuel-powered cars produce 400 grams of carbon dioxide per mile. Hybrid cars produce 260 grams of carbon dioxide per mile. Battery-operated cars emit 200 grams per mile.
|E-bikes produce 3.2 to 8 grams of dioxide per mile.
|Fuel-powered cars produce six to ten liters per hundred kilometers. Electric cars consume 7,000 watts per charge – and need to be charged for 8 hours, on average.
|E-bikes need no fuel to work. E-bikes consume 200 to 500 watts per charge – typically, the average time it takes for an e-bike to charge is 3.5 to 6 hours.
|Cars emit 4.6 metric tons of carbon monoxide annually.
|E-bikes don’t emit carbon monoxide when used.
Evidently, e-bikes are more eco-friendly than cars. Their carbon emissions are far less than a car’s – as they produce less carbon dioxide that can harm the environment, leading to a greenhouse effect. Furthermore, e-bikes don’t run on fuel. This means the vehicle doesn’t have to burn fossil fuels that can also produce carbon dioxide.
Since e-bikes only need a charged battery to work, they don’t produce toxic gasses and chemicals like carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is not only toxic to humans when inhaled, but it can also negatively impact the atmosphere by contributing to global warming.
So far, there are more cars than e-bikes. However, researchers expect that the e-bike market will grow, and many will switch to e-bikes soon. And even if more people use e-bikes to commute, they will still leave less carbon footprint than cars. Anyone who wants to preserve the ecosystem and is concerned for their (or others’) health must consider using an e-bike over a car.