The costs of owning vs renting a scooter

Lime Scooters burst onto the scene last year with a rush of media attention and made a whole lot of fanfare about a ‘new’ mode of transport. New Zealanders rushed to embrace them, race them, and find creative ways to destroy them. Pedestrians feared them, short-hop commuters loved them, and with good reason. They are fun, accessible, and ‘cheap’. Well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad (as Meatloaf once said). They ain’t cheap. They (currently) cost $1 to ‘open’ them, and 30 cents a minute to use it. It’s $18 / hour. If you had the exclusive use of it for 24 hours, or used it an hour a day for 24 days (roughly a working month, doing a daily commute), that’s $432! If you used one long-term, say for year, at 24 days a month, only an hour a day, that’s $5,184….

Will prices drop? Doubtful. Rumour is, Lime, Bird, and Uber (with their Jump brand of rideshare scooter) are losing money rapidly as it is. How come, when they are so popular? Because research has shown the average scooter lasts just 28 days. It’s a hard life, being a rental scooter. Estimates are that each scooter costs around $550 (USD), and actually loses the company $285 over its lifespan. So why are they even here? Floods of Venture Capital money has poured into the rideshare industry (Lime has a market value over $1Bn), but nobody seems to be worrying if they will ever see that back! You can read more about that here . In summary, then, rideshare scooters need to charge more to stay around.

What’s a scooter fanatic to do? well, let’s look at the numbers for buying your own. Let’s say you have no cash, and you finance the lot through a consumer finance agreement with no deposit. Let’s say you go for a top-end scooter like the Inokim OX Super, and even chuck in a good helmet for another $100. Total spend $3000. That will cost you $35.10 a week over 2 years (at 16.95% interest), almost exactly 2 hours A WEEK of riding a Lime scooter (costs 2 x $18 = $36 for 2 hours)! That scooter you have bought will always be ready when you are, nobody will ride off on it leaving you stranded, and it is a better scooter in every single way than a rental. Better brakes, proper tyres, 3 times as powerful, actual suspension, and looks the business. 2 years later you own it outright. Charge it for free at work. You might have spent another $100 on some new tyres after a couple of years. No contest.

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