E-Bikes: A market full of innovation

It won’t come as a surprise that the electric bike market is booming, but that it is projected to grow from 29.2 billion USD in 2022 to 62.25 billion USD in 2030 might surprise you.

Which markets are particularly interesting?

China, of course, is at the forefront of this boom, in terms of annual and total numbers of manufactured e-bikes, sold e-bikes, and the number of e-bikes out and about.

But following close behind China and the Asia-Pacific region is Europe, accounting for around 20% of the market. The European E-Bike market has grown a lot in the past years. In 2009, only around 500,000 electric bikes were sold in Europe. That number has jumped to 5 million in 2021, which is an increase of 1000 percent in just 12 years.

Though Germany, France and Italy are in the lead in Europe, places such as the Netherlands, Denmark and other Scandinavian countries are not far behind. For example, we see that in 2021, more than half of all bikes sold in the Netherlands were electric.

Despite being able to see where e-bikes are popular, the global market is still very fragmented when it comes to e-bike production and selling, with no clear brand leader in the industry. The most influential companies seem to be Giant, Merida, Trek, Riese & Muller, and M1 Sporttechnik, with Giant Bicycles expected to become the most dominant player. One reason for this might be the company’s strategic location in Taiwan, giving it easy access to China and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region. As well as their manufacturing plants in Hungary and the Netherlands. Which gives it easy access to the European continent as well.

What are some notable innovations within the E-Bike industry?

There are many interesting innovations within the global e-bike market, such as e-bike rental services(from which I personally benefitted whilst cycling around a mountainous island this summer!) and e-bike conversion kits.

One area that has witnessed a significant surge in popularity is e-MTB – electric mountain biking – which is set to grow at an accelerating rate of 10% during the coming years from 2020-2027, furthered by a rise in adventurous sports and tourism.

Mid-drive motors are also becoming increasingly popular, by offering higher torque and performance compared to traditional hub motors, as well as being easier to be serviced and maintained, due to simply being removed from the e-bike by replacing nut bolts. Placed at the e-bike’s centre of gravity, they also offer better handling of the e-bike through better bike weight distribution.

Apart from these innovations, the focus will be on two innovations that are making big waves in the E-Bike industry.

Electric Cargo Bikes:

According to The Guardian, van journeys have increased by 25% in the past decade, partly due to increased online shopping. This is both bad for the environment and for us. Statistics from the Department of Business, Transport and Industrial Strategy show that in 2018, the average emissions for vans were 262gCO2/km compared to 140gCO2/km for a diesel car, and 154CO2/km for a petrol car.

E-cargo bikes are a good option, with one Dutch study concluding that they are a great alternative for around 20% of deliveries. This is because they take up less space on our roads, don’t emit greenhouse gases, are cheaper, reduce delivery times and receive better reviews from customers. It’s a no-brainer, so no wonder that delivery and courier services are turning more and more to them.

The Bicycle Association also reported that as much as 30% of van deliveries could be shifted to e-bikes straight away, and this is only going to increase with changes in how cities are designed and how delivery companies operate. For example, instead of having large, out-of-town distribution centres, many online retailers such as Amazon are opting for smaller warehouses that are closer to densely-populated areas, leading to a ‘micro’ inner-city logistics network that are ideal for electric delivery bikes.

One reason that e-cargo bikes are cheaper is that aside from certain costs (including petrol, insurance, and license fees, to name just a few), e-bike users don’t have to pay the ‘congestion charges’ that are imposed in various European cities, as well as splurging out significantly less to buy and repair than vans and other modes of delivery transport.

Though e-bikes can be used for delivery across many different sectors, a study by The University of Antwerp has highlighted the following as the possible sustainable market segments of e-cargo bikes in the future: the gig economy (to deliver app-based services such as those provided by Deliveroo and JustEat); courier services; UCC partner (to deliver packages from urban consolidation centres, or UCCs, to nearby consumers); postal; service vehicles (to act as the main means of transport for small-scale service providers, such as plumbers, electricians or bike repair technicians); and delivery services, such as flower shops, bakeries and grocery stores.

This all means that e-cargo bikes could replace millions of deliveries conducted by cars and vans in big cities, which would be a great thing for everyone involved.

Circular Bikes:

Another big innovation in the e-bike market comes from making E-Bikes more circular. This can be done in various ways, such as through recycling materials for example. Roetz bikes in the Netherlands have another way to reduce the one million wasted bikes per year, believing that no bike should be designed to end up in a landfill after use. This is an ecologically conscious approach, as such Roetz is fueled by a desire to harm the planet less (all the while by offering a quality produce, of course). That’s why they are, to quote Roetz bikes, redesigning “the concept of a bike as a linear product into a circular product … A product that, in collaboration with continuous monitoring and service, will last forever.”

Roetz bikes’ idea is simple: you choose your first bike configuration out of a set of models, and then keep tweaking it with updates. Your bike is constantly monitored through its smart nervous system, which alerts you to failures before you are aware. And any services or upgrades are always on the next day. You can keep reconfiguring it with new models so that it always has the latest state-of-the-art.

Never have to buy another e-bike and minimize harm to the planet. Sounds great, right?

Apart from Roetz Bikes, what other startups are interesting?

Dutchfiets – Dutch circular bikes made from recycled and recyclable plastic, with sustainability as their guiding light.

Phatfour – quality hand-built Dutch bikes, with headquarters in Amsterdam. Phatfour bikes are notable for their slick, minimalist designs and fat-tires. Furthermore, you can also book a test ride directly through their website at one of the many bike dealerships they collaborate with!

Upway – France’s first online platform for refurbished electrical bikes, offering very affordable prices ranging from 20 to 60% cheaper than new models, and with delivery to your home! Each e-bike is reconditioned by a professional mechanic: an expert who checks 20 points and replaces everything that needs to be replaced, guaranteeing your bike for one year.

Leopard Tech – a company that offers manufacturers and cyclists with innovative solutions for bicycle anti-theft, GPS tracking and IoT connectivity. According to them, “The Leopard Lync is a smart security system designed to fit all types of bicycles. Providing real time theft monitoring, movement detection & anti-theft alarms .” It works by detecting any unauthorised movement, triggering a loud 109 dB alarm to sound to deter thieves. If this happens, the system will send you an instant alert to check on your bike, while 4G connectivity and GPS tracking keeps your bike secure in any location. Plus, the battery lasts up to 4 weeks in normal riding conditions!

Swugo – A good example of Dutch circularity is the company Swugo. Swugo creates drop-in motors and smart batteries to turn regular bikes into e-bikes in no-time! Cost-effective smart batteries can be used on their own or within a battery network. And you can instantly exchange an empty battery for a full one at a swap station, completely eliminating charging or range anxiety. Control algorithms maximise availability and battery life. And batteries only operate when authorised, so no need to worry about them getting stolen.

These are just some of the many innovative companies active in the E-Bike market. Which is becoming more and more global, just like the translation industry.

So, what are you waiting for? Ditch that old-school vehicle for a state-of-the-art e-bike!

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