The market for electric bikes is revving up

  • AFP
  • Updated: Mar 23, 2015 12:41 IST

Interest globally for personal mobility solutions for negotiating increasingly congested and polluted urban areas is leading to greater sales of electric scooters and electric motorbikes, particularly in emerging markets.

According to the latest study by Navigant Research, published Friday, sales aren't about to explode, but interest and demand are stable and continuous.

Combined annual sales of e-Bikes and e-Scooters are expected to hit 6 million by 2024. Considering that sales are forecast to hit 5.3 million over the course of 2015, the number isn't particularly high.

However, it indicates that even though electrically powered scooters and motorbikes are more expensive and limited in terms of range than gas-powered alternatives, they are starting to find a niche -- that is getting bigger.

What's more, China is historically the world's biggest market for electric bikes, and, while demand in the country is beginning to diminish due to slowing economic growth, the growing demand from other nations is offsetting this drop.

"Although purchase prices remain relatively high and the availability of vehicles is limited in some regions, e-motorcycles and e-scooters offer an affordable, efficient mode of personal transport for motorists, particularly in booming cities of the developing world," says Ryan Citron, research analyst with Navigant Research.

Electric scooters make up the lion's share of the electric bike market, and that is expected to remain unchanged over the next 10 years. In 2015, a potential 4.1 million e-scooters will be sold, compared with 1.2 million e-motorbikes. As well as being lighter and more affordable, electric scooters are also more widespread than motorbikes in terms of companies making them.

We're just taking the initial steps towards serious e-Motorbikes that offer the same performance and feeling as gas-powered bikes, and the few that are on the market such as Zero Bikes or the Lightening, or about to come on to the market like the Harley Davidson LiveWire, carry a hefty premium. Still, a US-built premium hog could stimulate demand for an electric motorbike in the US and Europe in the same way that Tesla has made electric cars aspirational with the Model S.

Increased interest will lead to increased competition in the marketplace and this in turn, according to Navigant could spur on innovation and breakthroughs necessary to make bikes more attractive to more people either through lower prices or better battery technology that enables an owner to travel faster and further between charges.

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