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There’s little doubt that an e-battery is a climate-friendly alternative to the dirty petrol engine. One passenger vehicle spews out four metric tons of CO2 per year. When installed in a e-bike, a battery produces only a fraction of this. 0.2 tonnes, in fact!
However, with many countries facing rapidly rising electricity prices, cyclists have been left wondering whether they can afford such to charge such clean, green option. Is it simply cheaper to hit the petrol station?
Well, we’ve done our research and charging a e-bike remains an exponentially cheaper process than filling up your tank. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of e-bike charging costs, as well as the factors that can affect these.
We’ve even included a side-by-side comparison with a Tesla electric car for those considering ditching diesel and petrol all together.
Factors that Affect E-Bike Charging Cost
The cost of charging an e-bike is not an exact science. With most of the world’s electricity generated by fossil fuels, the price of electricity depends on global supply and demand. War in Ukraine, harsh winters and post-Covid recovery has all seen this demand rise markedly. However, there are a few variables you can look at when working out how much a full e-bike charge will cost.
It’s far to say that the past few years have seen the electricity market rocked by world events. The pandemic saw wholesale gas prices jump by as much as 300% as countries raced to kick-start their economies after a sluggish couple of years. In Europe, the long war in Ukraine has led many governments to introduce sanctions on Russian fuel, pushing up prices.
To further compound these issues, late 2021 saw the collapse of 31 domestic electricity suppliers in Europe. In the UK, between 2021 to 2022, prices inflated by as much as 90%.
The cost of charging your bike is also dependant on the mechanics of the bike itself. Smaller batteries require charging more often but take less time to reach full capacity. A small 300W battery will take 4 hours to charge, whereas a 600W needs 6 hours. In the UK, as of October 2022, electricity is capped at £0.52 per Kilowatt/Hour, equating to a cost of between £2-4 per charge.
On a full charge, a full 300W battery can take you anyway 25-80km on a single charge, depending on how rigorously you use the pedal assist. For many cyclists, that’s a whole week of commuting.
The better you care for your e-bike’s lithium-ion battery, the more efficiently it will store electricity. This has a massive bearing on how long it takes and much it costs to charge. To prolong performance, owners should never ride their e-bike with a depleted battery. It quickly degrades the fuel cells. It also means that when you charge, the power jumps damagingly from very low to very high.
Battery manufacturers also recommend storing their products out of direct sunlight and heat, and with a charge between 40 – 80% to maximise efficiency.
Depending on the tariff you’re on, charging your battery will be cheaper at certain periods of the day. These are known as ‘peak’ (typically during the daytime) and ‘off-peak’ periods (10pm – 8am). These periods are determined by energy demand. When consumers want to use more electricity, providers decide to charge more per KwH. At night, there are, of course, fewer devices being powered on.
Charging a battery during off-peak periods, then, can reduce the cost of charging an e-bike. However, remember that any unattended charging device can be a fire hazard.
Average Cost to Charge Electric Bike
The cost of charging a standard lithium-ion battery can’t be pinned down exactly. However, for UK consumers, the cost hovers somewhere between £0.40 – £1.22 for a full charge on average. More rugged bikes, such as electric mountain bikes, will require a larger spend per charge, but will take you much further and faster than a bike with a smaller battery.
One leading battery manufacturer, Bosch, claims that in its lifetime, one of their batteries would last an equivalent of one and a half journeys around the world.
To calculate the cost of charging your electric bike, you need to multiply the kilowatt-hour capacity of your battery by the price your electricity supplier charges per KiloWatt Hour. For example, if your battery capacity was 0.3KwH and your electricity tariff was 0.52KwH, a full charge would cost £0.16.
Electric Car vs Electric Bike Charging Cost
Conversations about e-vehicles often centre around the popularity of electric cars. Since being introduced to the market in 2008, they’ve been touted as the clean alternative to traditional motoring. However, the fact remains that electric cars are large vehicles, requiring both regular maintenance and a longer period hooked up to your mains electricity.
This all means they’re not exactly cheap to charge. Below, we’ve created a table comparing two gold-standards of their respective markets: the Tesla Model S and the VanMoof e-bike.
|Tesla Model S||VanMoof e-bike S3|
|Battery Capacity||100 KwH||0.5 kwH|
|Cost of full charge in UK (2022)||£52||£0.26|
|Cost of full charge in USA (2022)||$15||$0.07|
|Cost of full charge in EU (2022)||€23||€0.11|
How Much Does it Cost to Charge an Electric Bike?
The cost of charging an e-bike is determined by electricity prices, which are, in turn, determined by a range of global events. A uncertain new world order means an uncertain forecast for your monthly bill. However, at around £0.40-1.50, charging an e-bike is still dramatically more affordable than filling up at the petrol station or charging an electric car.
What’s more, e-bike owners will likely be some of the first to benefit from the shift towards renewable energy. Cleaner, greener, cheaper electricity will decrease a reliance on fossil fuels, hopefully lowering the cost of a single charge even further. In fact, the World Economic Forum report that renewables are the single cheapest form of electricity available.
So, if you’re considering ditching fuel, e-bikes are a serious alternative – even in the face of volatile electricity costs.