Electric cars may be a popular and growing form of sustainable transportation, but they are certainly not the most widespread. It turns out that two-wheeled electric vehicles have seen much higher adoption rates in the form of electric bikes – and for good reason.
E-bikes work similarly to pedal bikes, but benefit from an auxiliary electric motor that helps the rider ride faster and farther without as much effort. They can shorten bike tours, flatten steep climbs and even offer the option of transporting a second passenger on an e-bike.
While they can’t keep up with the speeds or ranges of electric cars, they offer a whole host of other benefits such as lower costs, faster city commutes, and free parking. And so it is not surprising that sales of electric bicycles are rising steadily, so that e-bikes continue to sell massively electric cars worldwide.
Even in the US, an e-bike market that has long lagged behind Europe and Asia, over 600,000 e-bikes were sold in 2020. This means that Americans were consistently buying more than one e-bike per minute in 2020. E-bikes even sold more than two for one in the USA.
Electric bikes are, of course, cheaper than electric cars, although the latter enjoy a number of state and federal tax incentives in the US to help reduce their effective costs. Electric bikes do not receive a federal tax credit, but this could change if the laws currently pending in Congress are passed.
Electric cars also receive the most attention when it comes to infrastructure investments, federal subsidies and green electricity subsidies. Electric bike manufacturers generally have to figure it out for themselves, with little or no outside help.
And yet e-bike sales in the USA have grown strongly in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic played a role in the increased adoption rate, but it came at a time when electric bike sales were already skyrocketing in the United States.
Across the pond, European countries are seeing similar trends.
The United Kingdom Bicycle Association recently reported that 160,000 electric bicycles were sold in the UK in 2020. The group found that, with 108,000 electric cars in the UK over the same period, e-bikes outperformed larger four-wheel electric vehicles.
In fact, sales of electric bicycles in Europe are growing so fast that they are expected to exceed sales of all cars – not just electric cars – over the course of this decade.
And for many city dwellers, that day couldn’t come earlier. E-bikes not only provide a more affordable and efficient form of alternative transportation for riders, they also help make cities better for everyone. While e-bike riders can benefit directly from lower transport costs, faster commute times and free parking spaces, more e-bikes on the streets means fewer cars. And fewer cars mean less traffic.
E-bikes are widely recognized as one of the best ways to reduce city traffic, especially in cities with no effective public transportation. Even in cities with well-developed public transport, e-bikes are often the more convenient alternative, as they allow the driver to commute according to their own schedule and without route restrictions.
While electric bikes certainly cannot replace all car journeys, the growing number of e-bike styles and the emphasis on e-bike utility mean that more and more families are swapping a second car for an electric bike.
FTC: We Use Income Earning Auto Affiliate Links. More.
Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.