Why Electric Bikes Are Becoming More Accessible
Mar 24, 2021
Ebikes have a longer history than you might think. The first patented ebike came in December of 1895 when a man named Ogden Bolton Jr. invented a battery-powered bike with a motor mounted in the rear wheel. This sparked ongoing interest in electric bicycles from much of the late 1800s, with other inventors trying to build off of Bolton’s creation. Interest was not long-lasting however, and developments of electric bikes waned during much of the early 1900s.
About 90 years later, manufacturers once again began experimenting with electric bikes throughout the late 1980s and early ‘90s. Now, in 2021, ebikes are again captivating public attention – especially with a growing interest in alternatives to both cars and public transportation.
The ebike industry is only expecting to grow. Deloitte 2020 insights predicted an ebike bull market, with the biggest surge happening between 2020 and 2023. This is not just driven by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic either; the bike community as a whole is on the rise, and ebikes provide a fix for many common issues associated with cycling as a primary mode of transportation.
As interest in ebikes grows, we are already seeing technological innovations – such as a drop in lithium ion battery prices – that allow for less costly production. As a result, ebikes will be more affordable and therefore more accessible to the average commuter.
Public Interest Is Taking Off
One driving factor in the growing electric bike market is an increased interest in ebikes overall. Part of this began with the ebike rideshare craze.
Prior to rideshare and bike rentals becoming so popular, many people had little chance to try out an ebike. They were seen as a luxury item that only a small portion of the population could enjoy. Now, there are more than 1,000 bike sharing programs worldwide. People have gotten a small taste of an ebike and are increasingly interested in purchasing one of their own.
Ride sharing was already driving ebike popularity when the COVID-19 pandemic began. This created a worldwide surge in interest in alternative forms of transportation. Commuters who lacked access to cars became increasingly wary of public transportation due to crowds. Ebikes could take commuters farther and further than traditional bikes and helped amateur bikers get over tough terrain.
While the pandemic-related surge in interest led many to wonder whether ebikes would be a short-lived trend, industry experts felt otherwise. A growing interest in all types of electric vehicles – including electric cars – is likely to continue to fuel the ebike revolution.The tech website The Verge predicts electric bikes will become the top-selling electric vehicle in the coming decade.
The Market Is Growing
The market for electric vehicles in general is growing fast. Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts there will be between 10 and 12 million electric vehicles sold worldwide by 2025. The International Energy Agency claims that number will rise to 125 million by 2030.
With innovations happening with electric vehicles in general, it stands to reason ebikes will follow suit and follow a similar trajectory of other electric vehicles in terms of accessibility. For example, Tesla is already in the process of rolling out more affordable electric cars so more drivers can opt for zero-emission vehicles.
It is not just Tesla either. Electric cars as a whole are a growing trend. Major companies like Ford and GM are investing billions of dollars into research and innovations that will help them create affordable electric vehicles.
As the bike community as a whole takes off alongside all this, we can expect innovations from electric cars to bleed over into ebikes. In fact, as much is already happening.
Prices Are Dropping
With increased research into the logistics of powering an electric vehicle, ebike battery technology has reaped the benefits. Ebikes were once primarily powered by lead-acid batteries, but a shift to lithium-ion technology has emerged in recent years. In fact, by 2023, a majority of ebikes are predicted to be powered by lithium ion (li-ion) batteries.
Why the change? Previously, lead-acid batteries were the cheapest variety and frequently used in ebikes. As the price of li-ion batteries has been steadily trending downwards for years as manufacturers find more efficient means to produce them, they are becoming the preferred choice for ebike manufacturers.
With more and more brands producing electric bikes and electric vehicles in general, companies worldwide will find more cost-effective means to produce parts. With manufacturing costs going down, companies can actually make more money selling their bikes for less. With an unprecedented demand for ebikes, providing lower-cost options can tap into whole new markets.
The Bottom Line: Why Electric Bikes Are Becoming More Accessible
There has never been more widespread interest in bike commuting. As we move into a more health and environmentally-conscious world, consumers are seeking convenient ways to move from place-to-place while both avoiding crowds and reducing their carbon footprint. Ebikes give riders of all levels a mode of transportation that frees them from the burden of cars, trains, and busses.
Luxury items have a way of becoming more commonplace as time goes by and public interest grows. Even something as everyday as a television set was once a commodity few could afford. Now, they are in nearly every living room. As the ebike revolution marches forward, ebikes are poised to become both increasingly popular and increasingly accessible.