The electric bicycle is growing in popularity, offering a sporty and environmentally friendly way to get around. While it has a lower carbon footprint than a car or even a bus, the use of rare metals in the manufacture of its battery raises questions, at a time when the exponential demand for metals is coming up against a shortage.We have analysed the impact of three different ways of using an electric bicycle: on-demand hire, monthly hire and buying.
On-demand hire is ideal for occasional use of electric bikes, or for experimenting with this mode of transport before choosing a longer-term option. D Among its ecological advantages is the excellent occupancy rate of the bikes - which can theoretically be used at any time of the day or night. It also offers great flexibility of use. However, its limitations include a limited lifespan (only 1 to 2 years on average) due to sometimes harsh treatment of users or theft. Vélib claims that 4,000 bicycles are stolen or privatised each year, representing 15% of the total fleet, and that this limitation is compounded by high maintenance and repair costs, particularly for rental services that do not use stations, such as Uber Jump, whose bicycles are collected individually and then recharged by agents in a lorry.
Other companies, such as Véligo and Décathlon, offer a monthly hire service. This more expensive option is suitable for regular use, while avoiding a large initial outlay to purchase the bike, and also has the advantage of making users responsible for the upkeep of their vehicle, which considerably increases its lifespan and saves the company maintenance costs. The way it works remains flexible, as users can activate or deactivate their subscription according to the months that suit them best for their rental.
The final option, which is ideal for the long term, is to buy an electric bike. The user is solely responsible for the maintenance of his or her bike, which guarantees harmonious use and an optimised lifespan of up to 8 or 9 years before the battery is changed - and much longer beyond that. However, it is important to ensure that the bike is used frequently over a long period. An electric bike bought new but left in a garage for most of the year will have difficulty achieving its ecological profitability.
We have studied the carbon footprint of each of the 3 modes of use, with horizons of 1 year, 6 years and 9 years.Here are our assumptions for one year:- The number of journeys is 1,800 for the on-demand bike, 700 for the monthly hire bike and 500 for the purchased bike.- The lifespan has no impact, as the bikes all last beyond one year.In this configuration, the electric Vélib has the best short-term results thanks to its excellent occupancy rate.
Over 6 and 9 years, monthly leasing and even purchasing are the best options for optimising the vehicle's lifespan.