Is buying an e-scooter still worth it?

E-scooters are some of the most popular personal mobility devices in Singapore, as evident from a number of new e-scooter companies like Telepod, Neuron, Beam or Lime. However, buying your own may not be in your best interest unless you've considered the following things.

Personal mobility devices (PMDs) are very common on the streets of Singapore. E-scooters are particularly popular due to their portability and convenience. In fact, more than 85,000 e-scooters were recently registered with the Land Transport Authority.

With this in mind, our team identified key considerations for those fascinated by this up-and-coming transportation trend.

1. ABIDING BY THE LAW 

The government announced a fine of $2,000 and potential jail time up to 3 months for those riding their e-scooters on footpaths. This limits e-scooters to mere 440km of shared paths compared to 5,500km of footpaths in Singapore starting Jan 1, 2020.

Additionally, a handful of parks also prohibit the use of PMDs within their confines, making it difficult for leisure-oriented users to fully indulge in their hobbies. Consequently, you may want to thoroughly check laws and regulations regarding PMDs in Singapore to prevent getting fined or even jailed for improper use.

2. RENTING VS BUYING 

If you're still interested in e-scooters despite the aforementioned regulations, you may be better off purchasing rather than renting. For instance, the purchase price of most e-scooters is less than 1 year's worth of rental fees.

Based on a modest estimation of 2 10-minute rides per day for 5 days a week, a year's use of sharing platforms' services would cost up to $1,200.

PHOTO: ValueChampion

On the other hand, the average price of the top scooters on Lazada is just $696.50. Therefore, it is in your financial interest to simply buy an e-scooter if you plan to use it for your primary mode of transportation, given that you will be able to recoup your fees in less than a year.

Casual riders, however, may be better off renting rather than buying.

PHOTO: ValueChampion

3. MAKING A GOOD PURCHASE 

For those that plan to buy an e-scooter, it is important to consider a number of factors. First, owning a scooter may not be as convenient as using rental platforms.

For example, if you rent a scooter from a platform like Beam, you do not have to worry about parking, maintenance, or charging. Fortunately, should you purchase an e-scooter, the increase in your electricity bill is negligible at roughly 23 cents per charge.

PHOTO: ValueChampion

Second, you should pick a scooter that fits your needs as a rider. For example, it is useful to consider the duration and terrain of your expected rides. For instance, if you happen to live near a hill, you may want to purchase a scooter that has a higher maximum climbing angle.

Similarly, if you spend a lot of time on your scooter, you may want to consider the product's maximum distance.

PHOTO: ValueChampion

Lastly, you'll want to consider the company's warranty and quality assurance policies. E-scooters have recently faced heavy scrutiny due to their potential to catch on fire or otherwise malfunction.

As a result, we encourage you to purchase your scooter from trusted brands with good quality assurance, warranty, and return policy, even if it may be a bit more expensive than others.

PHOTO: ValueChampion

4. STAYING SAFE

Once you've made your purchase, you must become a responsible owner. Although e-scooters are undoubtedly becoming a mainstream method for first and last mile transit, many are still getting used to this new mode of transportation.

In fact, per reports from Tan Tock Seng Hospital, accidents involving personal mobility devices have been increasing year over year. While the increasing number of PMDs likely contributes to this increase in accidents, you should exercise your utmost caution on your e-scooter on the already populated roads of Singapore.

We suggest two ways in which you can effectively reduce your risk from owning an e-scooter. First, you should always wear a helmet. Unlike bicycle riders, e-scooters are not required to wear a helmet in Singapore. However, studies show that helmets can reduce the risk of injuries to the head by at least 45 per cent.

Additionally, you should consider obtaining insurance for yourself and your vehicle. Despite your best efforts, accidents can occur and in such an event, you want to be insured. Some insurances offer as much as $300,000 for your liabilities or even the loss of your device.

THINK CAREFULLY BEFORE JUMPING IN 

In sum, buying an e-scooter can be a viable financial decision for those who frequently use sharing platforms. However, make sure to consider the regulatory environment and safety concerns mentioned in this article before doing so.

PHOTO: ValueChampion