Move over cars, e-bikes are taking over!
E-bikes have been around for a while, but they are really coming into their own now.
Why is this?
A market filled with technological innovation
E-bikes are increasingly becoming a contender for replacing cars, motorcycles and, of course, regular bikes. This is due to many factors. But one big thing that has changed is the technology. E-bikes were always a green option, which we will go into later, but their changed technology has really upped their game, meaning that manufacturers have been able to change their targeted demographic from people who didn’t feel comfortable moving solely due to their own power, to all kinds of commuters.
Connected e-bikes now have a SIM module that enables them to send and receive data through the cloud even when not connected to a smartphone, remote diagnostics, built-in navigation, anti-theft systems, social media connectivity, automatic emergency calls, and oversized fat tyres to better handle potholes and bad weather– basically, everything that commuters need to replace cars (minus a roof over their heads and passenger-carrying ability). E-cargo bikes also have added storage capacity.
Not to mention, E-bikes are now matching car speeds, have a much longer range than before, and offer a good replacement for those who want to avoid using public transport (heightened due to the COVID pandemic). And, of course, the real draw during these times of economic austerity is that they are much cheaper to buy and much cheaper to run than cars. As e-bike enthusiasts say, they are not heavy bikes, they are light vehicles.
A cheaper alternative to driving a car
At $1,000 for a solid entry-level electric bike, e-bikes are affordable. You can get a base model for under $1k, a midrange for $3k and a luxury for $10k, such as the one from Porsche, if you really want to splash out. But none of them even come close to what you would pay for most cars.
E-bikes are also mindbogglingly cheap to run, coming to around $30-50 a year, rather than paying double that amount monthly if you were to drive a car! Of course, this depends on the cost of electricity, where you live and how much you use your bike.
Less strain on the environment
It’s no surprise that e-bikes are much better for the environment. This has always been a selling feature, alongside their cost. They help reduce greenhouse gases related to transportation, which accounts for about a fifth of the global greenhouse gas emissions.
Manufacturing E-Bikes is a lot greener as well– something that really comes into play when in comparison with cars. Even electric cars require far more resources than e-bikes do to construct and operate, and there’s no need to mention that regular cars do too.
As well as being better for the environment in terms of carbon footprint, they are also better for our mental health, making us happier that we are thinking about our planet (and our continued existence on it), as well as being a slightly healthier alternative. Of course, using an e-bike is not exercise in the way a regular bike is, but it is still more exercise than sitting behind a wheel in a car; and, through pedalling, it puts you in the mindset for exercise. It also gets you outside and into fresh air (and even if you live in a polluted city, it’s probably fresher than the stale polluted air that’s regurgitated from the outside in a car).
Unlike a regular bike, the e-bike’s extra boost feature means you can easily be on time without breaking a sweat – great for those morning office meetings! The fact that such people – and not only those with mobility issues – are turning towards e-bikes shows that perceptions and awareness of e-bikes have changed massively over the years. According to Rachel Hultin, Director of Sustainable Transportation at bicycle advocacy group Bicycle Colorado, e-bikes are an “indicator species of a healthy transportation system”. By this she means that an area where commuters feel safe to use e-bikes is probably a safe environment to work and live.
What are the major markets for E-Bikes?
Unsurprisingly, as leaders in e-bike manufacturing, the Asia Pacific region is also a world leader in terms of the e-bike adoption. China, at the forefront with more than 90% of the world’s e-bike production continually sees over 30 million a year in e-bike sales – this is partly cultural but also due to more bike-and-pedestrian friendly infrastructure. In comparison, Europe saw 5 million in sales in 2021, and in the same year, Americans bought double the quantity of motorised two-wheelers than fully electric cars, with overall e-bike sales tripling between 2019-21.
But it’s the Middle Eastern and African e-bike market that is set to really kick off. It is still currently in the early stages of adoption but is expected to develop at the quickest rate in future years, due to the rapid development of micro-mobility infrastructure in the area.
In total, global e-bike market size was valued at 35.69 billion dollars in 2021 and is expected to reach at a CAGR of 12.6% from 2022 to 2030, and 52.37 billion dollars by 2030. Key companies are: Yamaha Motor Company, Yadea Group Holdings Ltd., Merida Industry Co. Ltd., and Pedego Electric Bikes.
What can be done to further improve E-Bike adoption?
The number one thing to do is to have better bike infrastructure through a crisscrossing network of specific bike lanes, like Italy’s bicipolitanas, or “bike subways”, or Minneapolis city’s routes. It’s not surprising that people feel vulnerable pedalling next to a car moving at more than 40 miles per hour or more; As someone who regularly cycles, I certainly do. This is a huge deterrent to using e-bikes, especially as faster speeds (compared to a regular bikes) make moving next to cars even riskier. Of course, as well as making new bike routes separate from other vehicle routes, states, cities, counties, and municipalities need to make sure that e-bikes are legal to ride in the first place (nod to New York City, which has had a problem with e-bike use by delivery workers).
As well as more bike lanes, better bike parking is also needed. Many people, understandably, are worried about just leaving their expensive bike on the side of the road. Many businesses often offer free car parking to employees but hardly any facilities for cyclists, especially those using e-cargo bikes. This needs to change. Employers can offer a “parking cash-out,” a financial incentive not to drive (saving the employer money on providing car parking), or just more bike parking spaces. Another great idea would be having bike parks like below the train station in Utrecht, the Netherlands, which can accommodate over 12,000 bikes.
We also need to make e-bikes even more affordable than they already are, especially for low-income households. An example of making E-Bikes more affordable is France’s “e-bike for clunkers” programme, which offers up to 2,500 euros toward an e-bike purchase for those trading in a car.
One option, which also lets users try e-bikes out on test runs, is to have e-bike libraries or rental schemes. These offer people the chance to try out an e-bike without buying one. Examples include non-profit organisation Local Motion, who run public e-bike libraries in Vermont, and some e-bike subscription services like Dance, who let you rent bikes monthly. The purpose of these types of services is to increase e-bike use, not necessarily to increase e-bike sales, but British researchers found out in 2017 that such schemes can also result in potentially increased sales: they offered 80 people in Brighton a free e-bike for up to eight weeks. The average participant drove 20 percent fewer miles while they had an e-bike (even in the United States, almost 60 percent of car trips are under six miles), and afterwards 70 percent of them said they wanted one of their own.
A bright future ahead for E-Bikes
All the evidence is pointing to an ever-growing e-bike market. They are environmentally sustainable, quick, easy-to-use, practical, equipped with state-of-the-art technology and all mod-cons, cheap to manufacture and run, and economically lucrative for manufacturers and countries. And not to mention, a lot of fun, especially in good weather!
With a fast-growing market also comes an increase in demand for translation of course. At YTranslations, we offer high-quality translations technical translations for E-Bike related content and documents.