Electric cars may be getting more headlines and attention, but there's another vehicle that realistically stands to win the popular vote: the electric bicycle.
While many business and supply chain people are closely monitoring the electric car trend waiting for a bump in sales and car manufacturers are busy introducing new e-cars that will expand their portfolio, there's another quieter movement happening globally that may not yet be on component suppliers' watch list. It's the growing global reach of electric bicycles and its near-term market potential.
Electric Bikes Worldwide Reports (EBWR) says there are 200 million electric bicycles being ridden globally today, and the market could grow to two billion by 2050. EBWR pegged worldwide e-bike sales at 35 million 2015. That's 70 times more than the 500,000 electric cars sold in 2015, noted this Cycling Industry article.
Even within the bicycle community, e-bikes appear to be gaining ground, at least in terms of their presence on trade industry exhibition floors. Paul Willerton writes in Electric Bike Report, of Eurobike 2016, a trade show recently held in Germany: “2016 marks a turning point in that it was the year the eBike reached parity with the rest of the cycling industry. Equal floor space, basically. From almost nowhere eight years ago, eBike's have bridged the gap completely.”
The car/bike crossover
Not surprisingly either, automakers are eyeing the two-wheel mobility space, which hints at the idea that electronic component suppliers may also want to take a closer at what's happening there. Savvy design engineers and supply chain professionals may already be looking into how to better serve this niche with the idea that that the early bird gets the worm.
Why? Well, for starters, Eurobike 2016 was said to have its biggest number of automotive industry visitors, according to the Electric Bike Report article mentioned earlier. Bigger automotive attendance suggests that urban mobility trends could be more likely to show up on the automotive industry's strategic agenda and next-generation product development plans.
Then, there was was the late-2014 news about a licensing agreement between Ford Motor Co. and e-bike company, Pedego. That article quotes Pedego co-founder Don DiCostanzo saying that a e-bike the “gateway drug” to an electric car, meaning that e-bike users may eventually transition to other e-vehicles.
EBWR, cited above, also suggests that there may be an e-bike business paradigm shift underway, correlating with auto development trends. The organization notes that “Auto makers, and auto suppliers, are entering the two-wheel business with expanded technology and marketing options…[and] The collision avoidance technology explosion in the four-wheel market will be adapted to e-bikes making them virtually collision free eventually. E-bike sales will then explode also.”
All signs seem to point to a viable market opportunity with room for growth. Do you see it the same way?