Bikes on SteroidsElectric bikes are too often overlooked when people look for green ways to get around, and that's a real shame, because they are absolutely great. Thanks to their electric motors that assist the rider, they can make bike-commuting more accessible to people living in hilly area, or people with longer commutes, or those with physical problems that make regular bikes too difficult to use.
According to a new report from Pike Research, "the worldwide market for e-bicycles will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 7.5% between 2012 and 2018, resulting in global sales of more than 47 million vehicles in 2018. China is anticipated to account for 42 million of these e-bicycles that year, giving it 89% of the total world market. The e-bicycle market is anticipated to generate $6.9 billion in worldwide revenue in 2012, growing to $11.9 billion in 2018."
The graph above is a bit tricky to read, but I think that if you look at the scales on the right and left, you can see that the colored bars exclude Asia-Pacific, and that the yellow line is on a whole other scale and represents the much larger fraction of e-bikes that are sold there.
North-America is starting from a much lower base, but it is forcast to grow at 22% compounded per year between 2012 to 2018.
An important transition will be away from lead-acid batteries to the much cleaner and better performing lithium-ion models:
The vast majority of the e-bicycles sold in China, the world’s largest market, utilize sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries. While this has resulted in extremely low-cost e-bicycles in China, it has also led to a number of challenges including e-bicycle traffic congestion, lead contamination, and manufacturers effectively ignoring laws relating to e-bicycles speed and weight limits. Pike Research anticipates that the global penetration of lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries will grow from 6% in 2012 to 12% in 2018. Cost pressures from Asia Pacific will keep manufacturers interested in SLA batteries through this decade, but once manufacturing efficiencies have driven down the costs of Li-ion, we will start to see the decline of SLA as the battery of choice in e-bicycles.