- Sales of electric bikes have seen a significant increase, which started before Covid-19 but accelerated after the pandemic-induced lockdown, gaining more traction than electric vehicles
- High fuel prices due to current geopolitical tensions are certainly not hurting e-bike sales, especially in Europe and North America.
- Asia is by far the largest e-bike market, selling tens of millions of e-bikes every year; Europe follows behind; while North America brings up the rear
Over the past two years, there has been more focus on moving countries to embrace electric vehicles more than ever — to try to mitigate climate damage before it’s too late. To some, however, simply replacing cars with more cars – even if they are dramatically better for the environment – feels like a missed opportunity to reinvent cities. This is where e-bikes come into play.
An electric bike is definitely one of the most environmentally friendly rides. With an electric-assist motor and battery to add extra power to the rider’s pedaling effort, e-bikes can often travel at near-car speeds in many cities with traffic flowing into account. E-bikers can sometimes even arrive faster than motorists by using traffic-congested bike lanes.
Although e-bikes are not something foreign or new, the pandemic has definitely given rise to an e-bike boom, and in the past two years alone, e-bike sales worldwide have reached records. Same soaring gasoline prices amid ongoing geopolitical tensions spurred a rise in e-bike sales.
In the United States in particular, where the public has been slower to adopt e-bikes, new e-bike companies have reached more than one hundred thousand sales in just two yearsaccording to Electrek. To top it off, the most established e-bike companies in the United States are raising hundreds of millions of dollars in funding as investors wake up to the huge increase in e-bike adoption.
Data from the US Light Electric Vehicle Association suggests that the country imported nearly 800,000 e-bikes in 2021, a huge increase from the nearly 450,000 e-bikes imported in 2020. In 2020, e-bike sales electric cars have actually surpassed electric car sales in the United States. With this, experts estimate that the sales will reach 1 million US dollars this year, while the global market is expected to reach 40 billion US dollars at the same time.
Overall, Deloitte projected that between 2020 and 2023 alone, 130 million e-bikes could be sold worldwide. Optimistic predictions across the board just prove that it’s e-bikes – not cars – that seem to be the best-selling electric vehicle in the world. In fact, in Europe, e-bikes are even more common and should actually outpace car sales – not just EVs but all cars — in the middle of this decade.
Asia, on the other hand, is years to come of Europe with regard to the adoption of electric bicycles. To be specific, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to be the biggest market for e-bikes along with India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. and Vietnam being potential markets due to the increase in e-bike sales in these countries.
Soaring fuel prices mean more e-bikes
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the UK’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy reported that motorists experienced the largest weekly increase in fuel prices in more than 18 years following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Prices could go up to £2.50 a liter for petrol and £3 for diesel.
As for the United States, AAA reports that the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline hit US$4.17 earlier this month – the highest national average on record, without accounting for inflation. In short, fuel prices have and will allow the e-bike boom to persist, encouraging adoption as high fuel prices drive users away from traditional gas-guzzling transport.
Expensive Electric Vehicles vs. Affordable Electric Bikes
Frankly, while e-bikes can’t match the speeds or ranges of electric cars, they do offer a host of other benefits such as lower costs, faster urban commutes and free parking. These factors are enough to push sales even higher to the point where e-bikes are massively outselling e-cars globally.
For context, Tesla’s cheapest car, the Model 3, starts at around $45,000, but the typical cost of an e-bike is between $700 and $1,500. And for a country like the United States, a tax credit for e-bikes can, if approved, fuel their ascent even further.
The electric bike law is currently considered by the Senate with a 30% tax incentive proposal. The advantage is that it applies to e-bikes priced below US$8,000, which is the majority of what’s on the market. While there’s still a long way to go before the e-bike tax credit becomes law, this is certainly promising news. IIn contrast, over the past decade, the United States has spent about 10 billion dollars subsidize the purchase of electric vehicles through tax credits.