Motability Scheme customer using powered wheelchair

Mobility scooter range: How far can yours travel?

When it comes to scooter battery range, one of the most common questions that people ask Motability Scheme dealers is “how far can my scooter travel on a full charge?” There is no one-size-fits-all answer for this because it depends on many factors.

Because battery range can be quite complex in this sense, manufacturers will usually confirm that figures are totally dependent on these different factors and also that it’s important to remember that range figures are always maximums. But as a scooter user, it is always helpful to understand what this means for you in practice before deciding which scooter to lease with the Motability Scheme.

How manufacturers calculate range

According to Jeremy Fletcher, UK regulatory and special build manager at scooter manufacturer Sunrise Medical, mobility scooter ranges legally need to be tested to strict rules set out by the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO).

In the test, each individual type of scooter is driven through a number of circuits in one direction and then again in the opposite direction (to take into account any small inclines). Battery range is calculated by measuring the amount of power used in the driving and putting this into a formula given in the ISO standard, along with distance travelled and the battery rating.

Although the testing is very thorough, as Jeremy Fletcher explains, things are more complex in practice: range can be affected by far too many variables to be certain. These variables are the age of the batteries, how well they have been recharged, the ground travelled (hilly or flat), user weight, the outside temperature, the average speed, as well as how the scooter is used (stop-start vs cruising).

Motability Scheme customer on scooter

Manufacturers use a very technical method to decide the range of scooters as accurately as possible

The battery rating, known as C5, is the charge capacity of the battery for a usage time of five hours, as declared by the battery manufacturer, expressed in amp–hours (aH). This aH measurement is usually shown when you read the technical specification for the scooters offered by the Motability Scheme, in the “battery” section. Finally, range testing aims to be as reliable as possible, with broadly average measures, so it is done with a load of 100kg (15.7 stone) at a temperature near to 20ºC.

How you look after your batteries is important too

Your battery is the powerhouse of your scooter. If it isn’t providing the power you need then you won’t be going anywhere! For this reason, you need to be battery savvy, ensuring you really understand how to look after it properly. Fortunately, we have already published some information on how to make your scooter battery last longer, however here are the most important tips you need to remember.

If your scooter has gel batteries (most scooters do):

  • Fully charge them to begin with
  • Recharge them when the battery gauge shows a low charge
  • Recharge them once a week in any case
  • After around 20 charges, when the batteries have reached their full capacity, change tactics and charge them when you have finished with the scooter for the day, then every two months let the batteries discharge as you did when they were new before recharging them
  • Never allow batteries to run completely flat

If your scooter has sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries then the guidelines are slightly different:

  • Once again, fully charge them to begin with
  • Recharge them when you have finished with the scooter for the day or if you are unable to do this, charge them once a week
  • Every two months, let the batteries discharge until the battery gauge shows a low charge
  • Never allow batteries to run completely flat

Scooter batteries are very complex and it’s better to be prepared. It’s reassuring to know that the Motability Scheme makes life simple as each of its scooters comes with insurance as well as breakdown cover and assistance with Motability Assist. If you have any problems with the performance of your scooter’s battery, contact your Scheme dealer and ask them to check it. If it’s faulty, it will be replaced as part of our worry-free package. Find out if you can join the Motability Scheme with our eligibility checker.

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