Electric bicycles, known to most people as e-bikes, are motorized versions of bicycles that today are shifting the future to a more wallet-friendly and eco-friendly means of transportation. With the ongoing problem of traffic jams affecting not only peoples’ budgets but also their overall well-being, it comes as no surprise that the e-bike is a prospective option for more and more people today. In addition to serious bicycle riders, even casual riders and commuters are looking into the idea, thus creating a bold impact not just for the transportation industry, but also for society in general.
China is unsurprisingly the largest e-bike market, and has been since the year 2000. Due to their traffic and pollution problems, people there have switched to regular and electric bikes for nearly two decades. Sales of e-bikes have skyrocketed from a measly 300,000 units in the year 2000 to nearly 33 million last year. In addition to solving ecologic and health-related problems, their e-bikes are generally more affordable than those available to the rest of the world, costing only around $250 to $450 each.
The price range of e-bikes in China is relatively cheap compared to that in the US and Europe, which is one of the reasons it has gotten extremely popular there, helping the country lead the worldwide e-bike revolution. China’s e-bikes cost less than $500 a piece, but unfortunately the quality is often substandard. The latter two, however, offer more durable e-bike options, albeit more expensive as they go anywhere between $1,300 to $5,200, and with several brands and models even reaching the 5-digit dollar cost. Regardless, e-bikes in both Western regions are still expected to grow rapidly.
Some of the more popular e-bike brands dominating the industry include: Pedego Electric Bikes, X-Treme, iZip, Specialized, Rad Power Bikes, and Gi Fly.
In the US, e-bikes doubled its growth in value compared to last year, reaching 31.8 million dollars in just the first six months of 2017. In Europe, they expect the e-bike market to exceed 13 billion dollars by 2024.
Compared to conventional bikes, e-bikes allow riders to travel longer distances with minimal effort and faster speed. As such, the e-bike is a practical replacement for cars, due to less space and zero emissions, leading to less traffic and pollution especially in big countries. Compared to cars, and even motorcycles and mopeds, an e-bike can provide green transportation that is energy-efficient. Cars use about 15,000 watts of electrical energy, while e-bikes only use less than 100 to 150 watts. It is projected that e-bikes will consume only 36.45 billion watts by 2020, compared to cars which will use up 3.65 trillion watts – that is a 9,900% difference that will have an impact on the environment, and people’s budgets as well.
Creating a Transportation Revolution
Experts and commuters everywhere have been looking into various solutions to worsening traffic problems for years. These include various bold ideas such as the various Hyperloop projects, as well as looking into carpooling. In fact, carpooling and ride sharing has been growing exponentially for the past few years, especially in large cities such as Boston and New York City, creating a billion-dollar industry from practically zero back in 2012. Nevertheless, the dark horse in the situation is the e-bike, in tandem with the use of bikes in general for transportation and not just exercise or recreation, thus revolutionizing transportation in an unexpected way.
What started as a bold idea of adding a small motor to aid a rider in pedaling, is now fast becoming a phenomenon not just in the US but all over the world. It has become such a successful industry, that the 32 million worldwide e-bike sales back in 2014 has blown up to 133 million in 2017. It is projected that there will be over 243 million more e-bike units sold by 2020 all over the world.
Research shows that 46% of regular bikes are used around once or twice a week, while 81% of e-bikes are used in that same frequency. In addition, 33% of e-bikes are used every day. This massive increase in bike usage, especially in e-bikes, may reduce emissions and save a significant amount of money. A study by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy suggest e-bikes could reduce emissions by 47% thus allowing up to $128 trillion saved by 2050.