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Barcelona study shows interesting results EC v ICE

Electric scooters have a whole-life emissions output one-fifth of the equivalent 125cc machine.

That’s the verdict of a new study conducted by the Barcelona School of Industrial Engineering, comparing the lifecycle emissions of a Suzuki Burgman 125 and a Torrot Muvi electric scooter, based on typical commuting use in the Spanish city.

Electric two-wheelers have zero emissions at the tailpipe but there have been question marks over their lifecycle emissions, which take into account manufacturing and disposal, especially of the battery. This cradle-to-grave approach has been studied for cars many times, but seldom for two-wheelers.

The Burgman and its electric equivalent were found to have very similar global warming equivalent emissions for their disposal and recycling, but the Torrot had lower emissions on maintenance (244kg CO2 equivalent vs 402kg) and manufacturing (506kg vs 634kg). The electric scooter’s biggest advantage was in emissions from riding over its lifetime (650kg vs 6,670kg). If all electricity was generated from coal-fired power stations, the Torrot’s emissions would have been higher, but in 2020 only 2% of the UK’s electricity generation came from coal.

“Fascinating, this goes some way towards answering the biggest question mark over EV (Electric Vehicles) versus ICE (Internal Combustion Engine). The battery question & electricity generation question have been the biggest whole life emissions concerns about Ebikes” said BMF Chair Jim Freeman. He goes on to say “If this is consistent over the whole range of bikes, not just urban scooters, it’s a game changer. As it is, the ongoing inroads made by Escooters in the commuter sector makes perfect sense.”

The full study is available to read here

Written by Peter Henshaw

Top photograph courtesy of Suzuki  and Torrot