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E-bike or Electric Car

Would an e-bike be better for your commute than an electric car? We compare the two to help you choose.

Published on 17 August 2023 | 0 min read

Eco-conscious commuters have more choice than ever, thanks to an influx of affordable electric cars (both new and second-hand) and the recent boom in e-bikes.
Whether you’re sold on making the switch to electric, or just want to explore more affordable options to sometimes expensive and unreliable public transport and unpredictable petrol prices, this article will help you explore the market and find the option best suited to you.

E-bikes: an active electric commute

E-bikes have a battery pack built into the frame and an electric motor that kicks in when you pedal to help reduce effort, especially on hills.
Legally compliant e-bikes can only provide this electric boost when the pedals are turning, and nly up to speeds of 15.5mph, though you can obviously go faster when going downhill or if you have the legs for it. These can be ridden by anyone over the age of 14 and are legally the same as a regular bicycle so don’t require tax, registration or any sort of licence. Any e-bike with a ‘twist and go’ throttle or capable of powering itself without you turning the pedals falls into a legal grey area between these electrically assisted pedal cycles (EAPCs) and electric mopeds and motorbikes, the latter requiring the relevant level of licence along with tax, insurance and a registration. If in doubt stick to an e-bike conforming to the EAPC regulations to be sure you remain the right side of the law.

Benefits of e-bikes:

• When compared to cars, most e-bikes are cheaper to buy, run and maintain – legally compliant e-bikes don’t need taxing or insuring either.
• E-bikes can often be charged from home using standard domestic electric sockets, and as the batteries are smaller, they cost less to charge. • E-bikes are great for navigating congested urban areas and avoiding traffic jams, as they can take advantage of bike lanes and shortcuts. • They have the same health and lifestyle benefits of regular bikes, though the assisted pedalling can make it a bit easier.

Drawbacks of e-bikes:

• E-bikes aren’t as physically demanding as pedal bikes, but you do need to put the work in when using them.
• You’ll still be pedalling in all weather, so you’ll need to clothes and gear to stay dry, cool and warm at different points of the year. • As e-bikes are heavier than traditional bikes and usually have sturdier frames, they can be trickier to carry around. • While the battery capacity of e-bikes has improved significantly in recent years, it still doesn’t compare to that of electric cars (though the bike will work even when the battery is flat).
Interested? You can learn more about e-bikes here.

Electric Cars: an automotive revolution

The choice of electric cars has exploded over the past few years, and is set to continue with the arrival of new, affordable brands and an increasingly healthy second-hand market. From city drivers to SUVs, there’s now an electric car out there for pretty much everyone.

Benefits of electric cars:

• The battery capacity and driving range of electric cars has improved over the past few years, meaning many trips are possible on a single charge.
• Electric cars are generally safer and more comfortable than bikes, protecting you from the weather and traffic. • Electric cars are much better suited to carrying passengers and loads. • Electric car batteries have much larger capacities, so they can cover considerable distances before needing a recharge, making them better suited for long commutes and road trips. • There’s a huge choice on the market now, including many second-hand electric cars.

Drawbacks of electric cars:

• In most cases, electric cars will cost more to buy, run, maintain and repair than e-bikes.
• You’re not getting the exercise benefits of pedalling a bike. • Electric cars can get stuck in traffic, and finding parking spaces can be difficult and expensive, especially in city centres. • The UK’s charging infrastructure is still work in progress, so you might need to plan your trips around charging station availability – particularly on longer trips.
Learn more about electric cars, and find expert reviews of the latest releases on Auto Trader.

Choosing the right one for you

We list a wide range of both e-bikes and electric cars on our site, but which one best suits your lifestyle?
Ultimately, the choice between an e-bike and an electric car comes down to your specific needs and preferences. Remember to factor in your daily commute distance, standard weather conditions in your area, charging infrastructure in your area, your budget when making your decision. If you're looking for an affordable, eco-friendly option for short commutes, an e-bike could be the right fit. But if you need a vehicle for longer distances and desire more comfort and features, an electric car might be the way to go. Start your journey here: • Choosing an e-bike. • Electric cars on Auto Trader.