“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” - Often attributed to Plato but likely from Ian McLaren (pseudonym of Reverend John Watson)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Alternative transport

I've determined that, at current prices in Southern California ($3.32/gallon) my daily commute costs about $9.00 in fuel alone. Clearly, regardless of anything else relating to the efficiency of my driving technique, I'm spending most of that money on moving a large vehicle (about 4000 pounds) to carry little ol' me (190 pounds). That can't be a good use of fossil fuel.

Pondering this seeming waste, I've been looking into alternative means of transport. Human power, though I could certainly use the workout, is not feasible because I'd be lucky to spend less than five hours on the road each day. So I've looked at electric scooters. The ones I'm contemplating are the EVT (Electric Vehicle Transport) Ion and Equinox models. These little scooters claim a range of about 50 miles at about 30 m.p.h.

I would have to ride it to the office and plug it in. A full recharge takes four hours so there's not a problem with time. How does the cost compare? Well, the battery pack consists of four 12 volt 40 amp-hour sealed lead acid batteries. Therefore, charging from 20% to 100% should use 4*12*40 = 1920 watt hours or 1.9 kilowatt hours of energy. Say 2 kilowatt hours, then figure that losses in the charging system and heating of the batteries would account for about 20% losses, meaning I would need 1.25 x 2 = 2.5 kilowatt hours. I'd need to do this at work and at home, so figure that I would pay for about five kilowatt hours per day. The cost, at my current rates, would be around $0.50.

So I should be able to save $8.50 per day that I am able to use the scooter. I wouldn't want to ride it in the rain, so out of about 250 work days per year, that would leave maybe 230 days where the weather would permit riding. Some of those days I might have to take care of business where the scooter wouldn't be appropriate - figure maybe one such day per week or about 50 per year. That means I should save 180 days x $8.50 per day, or $1,530.00 per year. Note that this is on fuel alone, no accounting has been made for vehicle maintainance, depreciation, etc.

Let's look into that a bit. In my Jeep, I spend about $0.145 per mile on fuel, the I.R.S. allows about $0.44 per mile deduction for business related driving. Not having a better proxy, I'll use $0.295 per mile for expenses other than fuel in my Jeep. What about the scooter? The literature says the battery pack is good for about 500 charge cycles. I'd use two charge cycles per day of use of the scooter, so I'd get about 250 days per battery pack - maybe a year and four months. That's not so bad.

What about the cost per mile? 500 charge cycles times about 30 miles per cycle gives 15,000 miles per battery pack. I don't know but I'll estimate that a battery pack costs something like $400.00, yielding about $0.026 per mile in battery costs. Let's triple that for tire replacement, bearings, controller and anything else that may go wrong and round up to $0.08/mile. Adding that to the electricity charge of about $0.50/62 miles or $0.008/mile for a grand total on the order of $0.088/mile. Thus, an estimate of the total savings on the scooter is about $0.352/mile.

So I can save about (180 days/year) x (62 miles/day) x ($0.352/mile) or about $3,928.00 per year. The link above is for a dealership in Oakland who sells the scooters for $2,450.00 so a scooter would pay for itself in about 7 1/2 months.

I can't afford not to buy one!

1 comment:

EhlersIndia said...

Sounds like a sound argument. I am working up the same debate for a scooter of my own.