Urban Cycling News

Trendwatch: The Rise of E-Bikes in 2024’s Commuting Landscape

Crowd cheering on an e-bike rider

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With the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, few could predict the ripple effects it would continue to have in the future, both heartbreakingly sad and surprisingly optimistic.

One of the unexpected impacts of the pandemic was a seismic boost in the sale of electric bikes.

According to a report by Fortune Business Insights, the decline in public transport use in 2020 due to fears of spreading the coronavirus encouraged an uptake in the use of electric bikes. The Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA) backs up these claims, reporting that the imports of e-bikes increased by 76% and 80% in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

LEVA estimates that the global electric bike market will grow from $43.32 billion in 2023 to an impressive $119.72 billion by 2030, with a healthy compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.6%.

Man riding e-bike

E-Bike Sales Will Grow in 2024

The global market intelligence agency Mintel predicts that bicycle sales will climb by 12% in 2024, with an estimated 2.1 million bikes set to be sold in the UK. The e-bike market will be right at the front of the queue as data shows that Brits will prioritize buying electric bicycles over the next 12 months.

“Nearly a fifth (19%) of those who plan to purchase a bicycle plan to buy an e-bike,” Mintel reports.

In Germany, e-bike production “has increased by 70% since 2019, and sales have nearly doubled from 4 billion euros in 2019 to 7.36 billion euros in 2022,” Cycling Industry News reports.

A man and a woman riding e-bikes

E-Bike Growth Spans Worldwide

LEVA revealed that a large-scale E-bike Monitor study estimated that the Dutch own 14.2 billion euros worth of light electric vehicles, including e-bikes and e-scooters.

“The study concluded that 42% of Dutch individuals over 18 own one or more light electric vehicles, equating to 6 million LEV riders and 6.2 million vehicles.”

In India, the adoption of e-bikes soared by 39% from 2022 to 2023, according to government data. “The Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles reported that sales of electric two-wheelers in India rose to 846,976 units in the 2022-23 fiscal year, a two-and-a-half-fold increase from the previous year’s 327,900 units.”

sketch of a woman riding an e-bike

Why Buyers Are Opting for E-Bikes Instead of Electric Cars

E-bikes are becoming increasingly popular for various reasons, especially compared to electric cars.

E-Bikes Are Cost-Effective

E-bikes are significantly more affordable than electric cars. Their initial purchase price is much lower, and they are cheaper to maintain. This makes e-bikes an accessible option for a broader range of people.

It costs less than a dollar to charge an electric bike, meaning you can travel for less than 1 cent per mile. Charging an electric car to full, meanwhile, ranges from $10 to about $50. It might work out cheaper than gas, but not by the margins you can save with an e-bike.

E-Bikes Have Smaller Environmental Footprint

Although e-bikes and electric cars are greener alternatives to gasoline-powered vehicles, e-bikes have a smaller environmental footprint. This is because they require less energy to charge and operate. The production of e-bikes also tends to have a lower environmental impact due to their smaller size and the fewer materials required.

National Geographic reports, “E-bikes are a powerful tool on the road to sustainability. When it replaces trips made by a car, an individual e-bike can reduce CO2 emissions by 225 kilograms each year. That’s equivalent to the emissions produced by one passenger flying economy from Philadelphia to Chicago.”

E-Bikes Have Health Benefits

Riding an e-bike provides physical exercise, which can improve cardiovascular health, fitness, and overall well-being. Even though e-bikes offer electric assistance, users still engage in physical activity, especially when compared to the passive nature of driving a car.

While e-bikes burn fewer calories than traditional bicycles per mile, studies have found that people with electric bikes cover, on average, 4x more distance than people with normal bicycles.

E-Bikes Are Easier to Navigate and Park

E-bikes are more maneuverable and easily navigate through traffic, making them ideal for urban environments. They can be parked in bike racks or small spaces, avoiding the hassle and expense of finding parking spaces that cars face, especially in densely populated areas.

In a busy city, finding a parking spot can be hard. Streets are full, and parking lots take up room that could be used for parks or houses. Studies have also found that parking spots may actually cause congestion. Traffic jams make getting around slow. Even with electric cars, these problems stay the same. 

E-Bike Offer Accessibility and Practicality

E-bikes can be used on bike lanes and paths where cars are not allowed, offering more direct routes and accessibility to areas that might be off-limits to vehicles. This makes e-bikes a practical choice for commuting and running errands. Additionally, e-bikes are easier to store than cars, requiring less space in a garage or shed.

Two women riding electric cargo bikes

The Top E-Bike Trends of 2024

The Integration of Smart Technology

E-bikes are likely to see increased integration of smart technologies, including GPS navigation, theft protection (such as GPS tracking), and performance tracking through integrated apps.

Another potential perk is that e-bikes could soon communicate with other vehicles. “The enhanced safety benefits of V2X wireless tech – vehicle-to-vehicle communication – have long interested both auto and e-bike manufacturers, and 2023 saw Bosch, Trek, Shimano, Gazelle, and BMC among 19 companies commit to an ecosystem of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2X) communication technology,” Electric Bike Report reveals.

E-Cargo Bikes Gaining Popularity

Another significant trend is the rising popularity of e-cargo bikes, which are becoming an increasingly attractive option for personal and commercial deliveries in urban environments. E-cargo bikes are designed to carry heavier loads and more passengers, making them a practical solution for families and businesses. According to The Verge, we live in the “golden age of electric cargo bikes.” 

Andrew J. Hawkins, the transportation editor at The Verge, writes, “It feels as if the industry and the government have simultaneously woken up to the enormous potential of cargo e-bikes to replace car trips and improve the environment, and honestly, it’s about time.”

Improved Battery Technology and Range

Battery technology is expected to improve, offering longer ranges and shorter charging times. Innovations in battery composition and management systems may allow e-bikes to travel further on a single charge, making them even more viable for longer commutes and reducing range anxiety among users.

E-bike Subscription Services

Following the car-sharing and subscription services model, e-bike subscription models might become more prevalent. These services offer users access to e-bikes for a monthly fee, covering maintenance and swapping models as new ones become available. This model could appeal to consumers looking for flexible transportation options without the commitment of ownership.

The ascent of e-bikes in the urban transportation landscape in 2024 is a testament to commuters’ changing attitudes and priorities worldwide. The pandemic’s lasting legacy on transit habits has proven to be a catalyst for the e-bike boom, a trend bolstered by the collective pursuit of health, efficiency, and environmental stewardship. The impressive growth of the e-bike market is reflective not only of a shift in consumer demand but also of a broader recognition of the need for sustainable urban mobility solutions.

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