Bird Bike: Better Buying Than Renting. Bird ebike battery

Bird Bike: Better Buying Than Renting?

Renting a bicycle or an e-scooter? These days it’s possible almost everywhere. And therein lies the problem. At least for some rental providers. The market is not infinitely large and the competition is numerous. Little wonder, then, that the US manufacturer Bird is now launching its own ebike in Europe. Perhaps this is the first step towards establishing a second string to its bow.

Economically, this could be a very clever decision. When it comes to the name of its pedelec, however, Bird has not necessarily outdone itself in terms of creativity. Bird Bike. Okay. On the other hand, we don’t encounter anything absolutely unique here. This falls more into the category of simple and solid. For the very critical among you, perhaps even under the category “copied”. With the massive horizontal top tube, whose ends seem to have been taken a little too long and extend beyond the head tube as well as the seat tube, Vanmoof is already trying to set stylistic accents.

Bird Bike (left) and Vanmoof S3, … … quite strikingly similar, aren’t they?

Better than Vanmoof

In fact, this is not the only parallel between the two manufacturers. Both Bird and Vanmoof offer a frame according to the “one size fits all” principle. However, Bird has something ahead of its prominent competitor. There are two versions of the aluminium frame. The regular frame for the gents model is called the A-frame. The one with the lower entry is called, no, not the B-frame, but the V-frame.

The Bird Bike is available as a model with a regular frame and as a low-step model.

According to Bird’s assessment, this should fit people with a body height of 173 centimetres up to a maximum of 190 centimetres. Sounds like a realistic specification to us. It is not uncommon for manufacturers to bring quite a large range into play here in order to appeal to as broad a target group as possible. Once again, Vanmoof comes to mind as an example. With a geometry comparable to the Bird Bike and no additional options for adjusting the seating position, they talk about 170 centimetres to 210 centimetres.

Urban is the trump card

In line with its fleet of rental bikes, Bird introduces an ebike for regular street riding. It rolls along on 28-inch wheels with mudguards. A rudimentary Shimano derailleur with seven gears is fitted, along with a chain guard. Bikers in whose countries the bike may be ridden with a 500-watt motor can enjoy a belt drive. However, Bird then combines this with a singlespeed. In both cases, there are also rather simple hydraulic disc brakes from Tektro.

Bird takes the same approach to the headlights as Vanmoof. The front and rear lights protrude from the ends of the top tube. A skilfully integrated solution, where the LED lights are well protected and difficult to steal. The disadvantage is always the predefined setting of the angle at which the light shines, which is not to everyone’s liking, especially with the front headlight.

Intuitive and easy to handle

For the versions of the bike intended for Europe, Bird uses a motor from the Chinese manufacturer Bafang. It is located in the rear wheel hub and generates the permitted 250 watts. The battery is a removable model that can be found in the down tube. Its capacity of 346 watt hours supports you for distances between 60 and 100 kilometres. Provided you ride permanently in eco mode. The company does not specify how many additional support levels the Bird Bike provides.

A display with an LCD screen is fully integrated into the stem. You can check essential information such as the current speed, the distance covered, the selected assistance level and the remaining battery capacity. The display does not seem to be operated by touch. This is indicated by a control unit on the left side of the handlebars. Three buttons are visible: an on/off button, a plus button and a minus button. Bird remains true to its purist approach here.

Overall, the cockpit appears very clean.

bird, bike, better, buying, renting

Off to the shops

By the way, the Bird Bike will not be sold in Germany directly by the manufacturer. The Dutch company Popal Mobility Group (PMG) has secured exclusive distribution rights. In addition to Germany, PMG is also in charge of distribution in the Netherlands in Belgium and Luxembourg as well.

According to PMG, you can buy the Bird Bike in stationary specialist shops. This applies to the model with the A-frame as of now. The low-step model is to be launched on the market in spring. At least you have a few colour options. The diamond frame is available in black, blue and grey. The trapezoidal frame will probably be available in a white and a grey model. A third colour may be added. The price for the Bird Bike is 1,999 euros.

Background: Stock market giant meets family business

Bird is based in Santa Monica, California, in the USA. Economic experts put the value of the company, founded in 2017, at more than two billion euros. The operator of rental fleets and manufacturer of e-scooters has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since November last year.

Bird’s partner in Europe, Popal Mobility Group (PMG), has been active in the bike market since 1998 and is led by brothers Daniël and Aryan Popal. In addition to Bird, PMG distributes its own Popal brand as well as Keewee, Cangoo, Supersuper and BSP.

Electric Scooter Batteries

The battery is your electric scooter’s “fuel tank.” It stores the energy that is consumed by the DC motor, lights, controller, and other accessories.

Most electric scooters will have some type of lithium ion-based battery pack due to their excellent energy density and longevity. Many electric scooters for kids and other inexpensive models contain lead-acid batteries. In a scooter, the battery pack is made of individual cells and electronics called a battery management system which keeps it operating safely.

Bigger battery packs have more capacity, measured in watt hours, and will let an electric scooter travel further. However, they also increase the size and weight of the scooter — making it less portable. Additionally, batteries are one of the most expensive components of the scooter and overall cost increases accordingly.

Types of Batteries

18650 Li-ion cells, pictured above, make up an e-scooter’s battery pack | Credit: Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0.

E-scooter battery packs are made of many individual battery cells. specifically, they are made of 18650 cells, a size classification for lithium ion (Li-Ion) batteries with 18 mm x 65 mm cylindrical dimensions.

Each 18650 cell in a battery pack is fairly unimpressive — generating an electric potential of ~3.6 volts (nominal) and having a capacity about 2.6 amp hours (2.6 A·h) or about 9.4 watt-hours (9.4 Wh).

Battery cells are operated from 3.0 volts (0% charge) up to 4.2 volts (100% charge).

bird, bike, better, buying, renting

Lithium Ion

Li-Ion batteries have excellent energy density, the amount of energy stored per their physical weight. They also have excellent longevity meaning that they can be discharged and recharged or “cycled” many times and still maintain their storage capacity.

  • Lithium manganese oxide (LiMn2O4); aka: IMR, LMO, Li-manganese
  • Lithium manganese nickel (LiNiMnCoO2); aka INR, NMC
  • Lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (LiNiCoAlO2); aka NCA, Li-aluminum
  • Lithium nickel cobalt oxide (LiCoO2); aka NCO
  • Lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2); aka ICR, LCO, Li-cobalt
  • Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4); aka IFR, LFP, Li-phosphate

Lithium Manganese (INR, NMC)

Fortunately, many quality electric scooters are using the INR battery chemistry — one of the safest chemistries. This battery gives high capacity and output current. The presence of manganese lowers the internal resistance of the battery, allowing high current output while maintaining low temperatures. Consequently, this reduces the chances of thermal runaway and fire.

Some electric scooters with INR chemistry include WePed GT 50e and Dualtron models.


Lead-acid is a very old battery chemistry that is commonly found in cars and some larger electric vehicles, like golf carts. They are also found in some electric scooters; most notably, inexpensive children’s scooters from companies like Razor.

Lead-acid batteries have the benefit of being inexpensive, but suffer from having very poor energy density, meaning that they weigh a lot compared to the amount of energy they store. In comparison, Li-ion batteries have about 10X the energy density compared to lead-acid batteries.

Battery Packs

To build a battery pack with hundreds or thousands of watt hours of capacity, many individual 18650 Li-ion cells are assembled together into a brick-like structure. The brick-like battery pack is monitored and regulated by an electronic circuit called a battery management system (BMS), which controls the flow of electricity into and out of the battery.

Schematic diagram of parallel and series battery connections | Credit: Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Individual cells in the battery pack are connected in series (end to end) which sums their voltage. This is how its possible to have scooters with 36 V, 48 V, 52 V, 60 V, or even larger battery packs.

These individual strands (many batteries in series) are then connected in parallel to increase output current.

By adjusting the number of cells in series and parallel, electric scooter manufacturers can increase output voltage or max current and amp hour capacity.

Changing the battery configuration will not increase total energy stored, but it effectively allows a battery to offer more range and lower voltage and vice versa.

Voltage and % Remaining

Each cell in a battery pack is generally operated from 3.0 volts (0% charge) all the way up to 4.2 volts (100% charge).

This means that a 36 V battery pack, (with 10 batteries in series) is operated from 30 V (0% charge) up to 42 volts (100% charge). You can see how % remaining corresponds with battery voltage (some scooters display this directly) for every type of battery in our battery voltage chart.

Voltage Sag

Every battery is going to suffer from a phenomenon called voltage sag.

Voltage sag is caused by several effects, including lithium-ion chemistry, temperature, and electrical resistance. It always results in non-linear behavior of the battery voltage.

As soon as a load is applied to the battery, the voltage will instantaneously drop. This effect can lead to incorrectly estimating battery capacity. If you were directly reading out battery voltage, you’d think you had instantly lost 10% of your capacity or more.

Once the load is removed the battery voltage will return to its true level.

Voltage sag also occurs during long discharge of the battery (such as during a long ride). The lithium chemistry in the battery takes some time to catch up with the discharge rate. This can result in the battery voltage dropping even more rapidly during the tail end of long ride.

If the battery is allowed to rest, it will return to its true and accurate voltage level.

Capacity Ratings

E-scooter battery capacity is rated in units of watt hours (abbreviated Wh), a measure of energy. This unit is quite easy to understand. For example, a battery with a 1 Wh rating stores sufficient energy to supply one watt of power for one hour.

energy capacity means higher battery watt hours which translates to longer electric scooter range, for a given motor size. An average scooter will have a capacity of around 250 Wh and be able to travel about 10 miles at an average of 15 miles per hour. Extreme performance scooters can have a capacity reaching into the thousands of watt hours and ranges of up to 60 miles.

bird, bike, better, buying, renting

Battery Brands

Individual Li-ion cells in an e-scooter battery pack are made by just a handful of different internationally-known companies. The highest quality cells are made by LG, Samsung, Panasonic, and Sanyo. These types of cells tend to be found only in battery packs of higher-end scooters.

Most budget and commuter electric scooters have battery packs made from generic Chinese-manufactured cells, which vary greatly in quality.

The difference between scooters with branded cells and generic Chinese ones is a greater guarantee of quality control with established brands. If that is not within your budget, then make sure you are buying a scooter from a reputable manufacturer who is using quality parts and has good quality control (QC) measures in place.

Some examples of companies that are likely to have good QC are Xiaomi and Segway.

Swappable Batteries

Most high quality electric scooters have replaceable Lithium-ion batteries (more on that below). Many also feature Li-ion batteries that can easily be swapped out without unplugging cables or opening enclosures.

The configuration basically doubles the scooter’s available range and eliminates the need to wait for a single battery to charge before riding.

There are two main designs for standing electric scooters with swappable batteries. Stem-mounted batteries can be found on scooters like the TurboAnt X7, X7 Pro, and X7 Max.

Stem-mounted battery replacement packs are inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to remove, carry and store. They can sometimes make a scooter feel a little wobbly or top-heavy.

Other electric scooters like the AnyHill UM-2 embed their battery in a casing that functions as part of the deck. The Dualtron Storm (a scooter favored by delivery drivers and professional electric scooter racers alike) also uses this design for its massively powerful, 72V 31.5Ah swappable battery.

The replacement battery for the Dualtron Storm is pricey and heavy, at 29 lb, so it’s unlikely most Storm owners are carrying one around with them. In this case, the swappable battery enables the Storm’s rider to stay on track without swapping vehicles.

A third design for a swappable electric scooter battery is Voro Motors’ EMOVE Roadrunner, whose 48V 26.1Ah battery pack slots into the frame diagonally under the seat. The battery takes only 10 seconds to swap out and only weighs 15 pounds.

Battery Management System

Though Li-ion 18650 cells have amazing benefits, they are less forgiving than other battery technologies and can explode if used improperly. It is for this reason that they are nearly always assembled into battery packs that have a battery management system.

The battery management system (BMS) is an electronic component that monitors the battery pack and controls charging and discharging. Li-ion batteries are designed to operate between about 2.5 to 4.0 V. Overcharging or completely discharging can shorten battery life or trigger dangerous thermal runaway conditions. The BMS should prevent overcharging. Many BMS also cut power before the battery is fully discharged in order to prolong life. Despite this, many riders still baby their batteries by never fully discharging them and also use special chargers to finely control charging speed and amount.

sophisticated battery management systems will also monitor the temperature of the pack and trigger a cutoff if overheating occurs.


If you’re doing research on battery charging, you’re likely to encounter C-rate. C-rate describes how quickly the battery is being fully charged or discharged. For example, a C-rate of 1C means the battery is charged in one hour, 2C would mean fully charged in 0.5 hours, and 0.5C would mean fully charged in two hours. If you fully charged a 100 A·h battery using 100 A current, it would take a one hour and the C-rate would be 1C.

Battery Life

A typical Li-ion battery will be able to handle 300 to 500 charge/discharge cycles before diminishing in capacity. For an average electric scooter, this is 3000 to 10 000 miles! Keep in mind that “diminish in capacity” doesn’t mean “lose all capacity,” but means a noticeable drop of 10 to 20% that will continue to get worse.

Modern battery management systems help to prolong the life of the battery and you shouldn’t worry too much about babying it.

  • Don’t store your scooter fully charged or with the charger plugged in for prolonged periods.
  • Don’t store the electric scooter fully discharged. Li-ion batteries degrade when they drop below 2.5 V. Most manufacturers recommend to store scooters with a 50% charged, and top them up to this level periodically for very long-term storage.
  • Don’t operate the scooter battery in temperatures below 32 F° or above 113 F°.
  • Charge your scooter at a lower C-rate, meaning charge the battery at a lower rate relative to its maximum capacity to preserve/improve battery life. Charging at a C-rate between below 1 is optimal. Some of the fancier or high speed chargers let you control this.


The main takeaway here is don’t abuse the battery and it will last the useful life of the scooter. We hear from all kinds of people about their broken electric scooters and it’s rarely a battery problem!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do electric scooter batteries last?

Electric scooter batteries will last between 2 to 4 years and between 3000 to 5000 miles depending on storage, use conditions, and battery capacity. If you use your scooter more or store it improperly, the battery life will be shorter.

How many times can you charge an electric scooter battery?

Electric scooters can go through between 300 to 500 charging cycles before starting to lose battery capacity. The highest-quality, brand name cells may last upwards of 1000 charging cycles, if babied.

How can you maximize electric scooter battery life?

You can prolong battery life by storing the scooter charged to 50%, charging it with a C-rate below 1, and not operating the scooter when it is too cold (below 32 F°) or too hot (above 114 F°).

When storing for prolonged periods of time, make sure to top the batteries periodically. When storing for very long periods of time, make sure to charge them periodically so they are not being stored completely discharged.

Learn more about how to maximizing battery life.

Can you replace electric scooter batteries? Is it worth the cost?

Yes! you can replace the battery in your electric scooter, though it may not be cost effective. Batteries are one of the most costly components of the electric scooter. Even a small 250 watt hour battery, like that from an M365, costs around 150 US or about ⅓ the cost of the entire scooter!

For common scooters like the M365, there are many video tutorials online of the replacement procedure. It’s not that difficult if you are mechanically inclined, but the novice may find it difficult.

Emerald Bike vs. Bird Bike | Which Ebike is Better?

This post may contain affiliate links and we will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link. Read the Disclosure Policy.

Are you looking for a fun and convenient way to ease your daily workout but don’t know where to start? Or are you a professional looking to stay active without exhausting yourself as you juggle a career or kids? If so, consider investing in an electric bicycle! Ebikes a re revolutionizing the cycling industry, allowing riders of all ages and ability levels to enjoy an outdoor hobby without any worries. Whether you live rurally or travel often, people everywhere are searching for convenient solutions to stay active alongside their loved ones. Not only is it one of the best modes of urban travel, but it’s perfect for everything from chaotic city commutes to pizza delivery.

We know that selecting an ebike out of the hundreds on the market can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first one. It’s not worth risking your safety — or a precious paycheck — on a product that doesn’t work. Luckily for you, we’ve done the research and found the best ebike brands on the market: Emerald Bike and Bird Bike. But which one is the best option? Whether you’re looking for the best design features, a cost-effective model, or prioritize eco-friendliness. several things must be taken into account when selecting which bike is right for you. Is their technology reliable? What about ease of use and affordability?

We’ve detailed everything in this head-to-head comparison piece—Emerald Bike vs. Bird Bike; which ebike is better? In this blog post, we break down the top two ebike brands to help you make an informed decision about which model will benefit your life the most!


Emerald is a revolutionary bike for those looking for a portable model that’s flexible for your lifestyle. From its foldable frame to a dependable Samsung battery, Emerald provides an all-in-one product to address every area of your cycling needs. Their product is an “electric pedal-assisted cycle” ( EPAC ), which is an increasingly popular and eco-friendly alternative means of transportation. With the combination of peddling power and electric assistance, you can cover further distances faster! Long-distance commutes and steep hills become no challenge — all while cutting your carbon emissions and saving on the cost of gasoline. And the best part? You can own this high-quality bike for an unbeatable price, especially if you take advantage of Emerald’s presale offer (up to 300 off).

The Bird Bike is a well-known electric bike brand, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best. Similar to Emerald, Bird’s model is all-electric with a built-in pedal assist system to make cycling easy and convenient. While they happen to include a built-in bike alarm, Bird lacks all of Emerald’s best features (foldable design, dependable power. hydraulic disc brakes, etc.) that make it a reliable source of transportation in the long-term. The base model will set you back at least 2,500 – not to mention any expensive add-on accessories – but their website isn’t clear on pricing.


The primary difference between Emerald Bike and Bird Bike is portability. Emerald offers an innovative folding design that allows riders to transport it easily, while the Bird Bike is not foldable. Owning a foldable ebike is preferred over a standard frame due to portability and convenience. Emerald’s model offers cyclists the opportunity to transport the bike easily and store it in places where traditional e-bikes cannot fit, such as small apartments, vehicles, or buses.

Y ou can also transport your foldable ebike on public transport without worrying about limited space. For commuters or anyone who regularly needs to move their bike around but still wants the power and convenience of an electric bike, a foldable design is non-negotiable.

Emerald | Bird Bike


Next to portability, everyone should invest in a reliable ebike, or they’ll regret it once the repair bills start rolling in. What makes an ebike reliable? Here are a few features to look for: a name-brand battery with dependable power and hydraulic disc brakes.

Of the two brands, Emerald is the best option for reliability. Outfitted with a name-brand Samsung battery, riders can enjoy up to 25 mph speeds for 70 miles before needing a charge and have the most dependable power. Easily remove the battery and charge for 4-6 hours to prepare for your next adventure. Plus, Samsung batteries are known to last up to 5 years, or 500 charge cycles. Bird Bike, however, does not have a quality battery, so it can only travel at 20mph speeds at a maximum of 50 miles.

Keep in mind that the lifespan of an ebike battery can vary depending on a number of factors, including usage patterns, storage conditions, and environmental factors. Proper charging and storage practices can help extend the battery’s life.

Hydraulic disc brakes are another reason why the Emerald Bike is more reliable than Bird. Bird, on the other hand, has cable-actuated brakes. While Hydraulic brakes may be more expensive than cable-actuated brakes, many riders find that the benefits they offer make them a worthwhile investment.

Here is a list of reasons why hydraulic disc brakes are generally considered to be superior to cable-actuated brakes:

  • Better stopping power: Hydraulic brakes provide more stopping power than cable-actuated brakes because they use a close hydraulic system to transfer force from the brake lever to the brake caliper, which is especially important for high-speed or heavy-duty cycling applications.
  • Improved modulation: Hydraulic brakes allow for more precise and controllable braking, as the hydraulic fluid transfers force more smoothly and uniformly than a cable system. This can be especially useful in off-road or technical riding situations where quick and precise braking is required.
  • Less maintenance: Hydraulic brakes require less maintenance than cable-actuated brakes. Since hydraulic systems are sealed and self-contained, there is less opportunity for dirt and debris to get into the system and cause problems. Additionally, hydraulic systems are self-adjusting, which means they don’t require regular cable tension adjustments like cable-actuated brakes do.
  • Consistency in all weather conditions: Hydraulic brakes are less affected by weather conditions, which can be especially important in wet or muddy riding environments. Cable-actuated brakes can be more affected by dirt, moisture, and temperature changes, which can impact their performance.


Another way to determine if the Emerald Bike or Bird Bike is best for you is by checking the tires and derailleur. Ebikes designed with fat tires (Emerald) offer several advantages over generic ebike tires (Bird)—but it’s worth noting that they may be heavier and more expensive than standard tires, so riders should consider their specific needs and priorities when choosing a tire option for their ebike. Here’s a list of four advantages that a fat ebike tire offers:

  • Increased traction: Fat tires have a larger contact patch with the ground than standard tires, which means they can provide more traction and stability, especially in loose or uneven terrain. This can be especially useful for off-road riding or other situations where traction is a priority.
  • Improved stability: The larger volume of air in fat tires provides more cushioning and shock absorption, which can help to improve overall stability and ride comfort. This can be especially important for ebikes, which may be heavier and faster than traditional bicycles.
  • Better flotation: The wider footprint of fat tires allows them to “float” over soft or loose terrain, rather than sinking in and getting stuck. This can be especially useful for riding in sand, snow, or mud.
  • Lower rolling resistance: While fat tires may seem like they would be less efficient than standard tires, the large volume of air in the tires actually helps to reduce rolling resistance. This can result in a more efficient ride, as less energy is required to maintain speed.

Emerald touts a name-brand Shimano derailleur. A properly functioning derailleur can ensure efficient power transfer from the rider’s legs to the e-bike’s motor. With the ability to fine-tune the gear selection, riders can maintain a consistent power output and avoid wasting energy. They may require occasional maintenance, but the benefits they provide can make them an essential component of an ebike.

Overall, derailleurs are important on an ebike because they allow for a wide range of gear options, ensure efficient power transfer, and can be fine-tuned to suit a rider’s specific needs and preferences. That’s why it’s important to choose a bike like Emerald that uses name-brand parts.


Emerald and Bird have a lot in common when it comes to their ebikes’ safety features. While proper maintenance is crucial for safety, each brand includes added features that make them even safer. Both bikes include front and rear lights that will increase visibility during low-light hours. Emerald is outfitted with a loud horn, while Bird has a bell to help riders navigate traffic or alert pedestrians of their presence.

One feature that Emerald does not include, however, is Bird’s Anti-Theft Alarm. The Anti-Theft Alarm is a “fully-integrated alarm system with a 120-decibel alarm sound that helps keep your bike safe and gives you peace of mind,” according to the Bird website.

Each brand also allows users to track everything from including speed to battery life using electronic dash displays embedded on the bike handlebars. Emerald’s display is located on the right handlebar, while the Bird display is located in between the handlebars. The LCD dash informs users of their speed, distance, pedal assist mode, battery life, and more.

Emerald Bike vs. Bird Bike: Which Ebike is Better?

So, Emerald Bike vs. Bird Bike—which is better?

Of course, you should use your best judgment to make the final call, but at this point, it’s obvious which ebike is worth your hard-earned cash. Emerald offers great portability, reliability, efficiency, and safety. All of these factors are important when you’re choosing an electric bike. Bird may seem like a good option at first, but they simply don’t measure up to Emerald. So don’t waste your money on Bird – invest in an Emerald Bike today!

Understanding the risks of swappable e-scooter batteries

Swappable batteries might sound like the sustainable answer to maintaining e-scooters; here, Bird’s Chief Vehicle Officer Scott Rushforth examines why they can create more problems than they solve.

Why are Bird and other scooter operators not using swappable batteries?

There’s a reason swappable batteries haven’t yet become the norm in the shared e-scooter industry.

On the surface, it may seem as though they present a simple solution to complex micromobility operations. Instead of transporting entire scooters to be recharged, fresh batteries can be popped in and out of a vehicle, cutting back on lost time, lost revenue and costly service trips. Or at least that’s the idea.

The truth is that the road from promise to reality is long, and much like swappable electric car batteries, current swappable e-scooter batteries have yet to prove themselves as a secure, environmentally-friendly solution. importantly, they come with significant safety and sustainability risks that must be taken seriously. It’s notable that the only two micromobility operators that engineer their own vehicles have chosen not to rush into swappable tech until it’s 100% safe.

In order for the technology to live up to its environmentally-friendly potential and safely justify widespread adoption, there are critical tests that swappables will have to pass in the coming years. These are just a few of them.

The safety test

It’s a general rule of engineering that the fewer moving parts there are, the fewer opportunities there are for friction, damage and risk. The same principle applies to battery technology.

Every time a rider or staff member manipulates a scooter’s battery, there are multiple opportunities for damage to occur both to the vehicle and to the battery pack. Drops, mishandling and exposure to the elements and poor storage conditions are not only possible hazards; they’re reasonably expected outcomes based on what we know of human error and the rugged realities of micromobility. Each accidental bump, jostle and collision compromises the integrity of the battery casing and increases the likelihood of premature failure.

This kind of battery failure is more than just an environmental concern. Lithium ion batteries are an energy-dense power source that rely on stable conditions in order to function safely. Damaged cells, faulty connectors, compromised casings and water and dust intrusion can have dangerous real-life consequences. Serious safety considerations such as these must be taken into account when weighing the merits of integrated batteries—with reinforced enclosures and IP-rated waterproofing—against their swappable counterparts.

When designing an EV, battery safety needs to be the top priority, and swappable batteries significantly increase the safety risks.

The tamper test

Vandalism and theft are an unfortunate reality of the shared micromobility industry. As time has gone on, however, operators like Bird have reduced or nearly eliminated such behaviour for the good of both the community and the industry.

Because batteries are often a target of theft, our team has designed reinforced enclosures that require special tools to open. This makes unauthorised access extremely challenging for would-be vandals, and it helps keep our fully-waterproof batteries even more protected in the event a scooter becomes submerged.

Shared scooters with quick-release baseboards or grab-and-go battery slots, however, offer no such protection. These vehicles are, by design, built to give easy access to their batteries in order to facilitate an efficient swapping process. This is a potentially serious problem, and the data on battery protection from theft and vandalism will need to be clear, copious and convincing before any industry-wide push for adoption can reasonably be enacted.

bird, bike, better, buying, renting

The environmental test

Battery production is one of the most carbon-intensive parts of e-scooter manufacturing, which in turn contributes the most carbon to a scooter’s overall lifetime emissions. Proper disposal and recycling present an environmental challenge, meaning that the fewer batteries produced overall, the better. And while it’s easy to think that, no matter which model you use, one scooter built equals one battery manufactured, that’s actually not the case.

E-scooter operators using current swappable technology require around 1.5 battery packs per vehicle. That’s because, for every fleet of scooters in service, a given number of additional batteries must be simultaneously charging in order for the system to operate efficiently. Conservative estimates indicate that a fleet of 50,000 vehicles requires as many as 75,000 batteries to be manufactured. The actual number is likely higher for reasons we’ve discussed above.

Bird scooters, on the other hand, are equipped with integrated, waterproof (IP67 or IP68), high-capacity batteries with a 50% extended range enabling each one to be paired with multiple chassis frames during its lifespan. This means that less than one battery is required per scooter, dramatically reducing each vehicle’s total lifetime emissions long before the first ride is ever taken.

It helps to look at the discussion in the broader context of other swappable battery devices. In the case of smartphones, consumer-swappable batteries were abandoned by manufacturers in order to improve design and, critically, allow for increased water resistance. For electric cars, Rapid increases in battery duration and charging speeds caused Tesla to abandon swappables. Today, 12 years after the first Roadster was released, the question remains open and industry-wide consensus on swappables isn’t close to being reached.

Similarly, data surrounding the safety, sustainability and viability of swappable-battery e-scooters is far from conclusive. For all their promise, they remain unproven and so must be approached objectively and with deliberation. According to a recent OECD-ITF report: “The actual impact of battery swapping on energy and GHG emissions/pkm depends on the details of how it is designed and implemented… For example, swappable batteries can be targeted for theft and may be subject to a higher risk of damages related with their handling processes or water infiltration.”

Bird prioritises safety above all else. We’ll continue to investigate and test swappables as we’ve done with all new innovations: with the well being of our riders, our communities and the environment front and centre. As long as emerging technologies offer the potential for more efficient operations and cleaner, healthier cities, our team will remain on the cutting edge of the research necessary to implement them safely and responsibly.

Leave a Comment