Study: E-Bikes Are the Most Popular EV

More reasons why we are putting our e-dollars in the wrong places.

Man riding e-bike in Berlin

Visualspace / Getty Images

We often complain that e-bikes aren't taken seriously by governments or the media. Take the Hummer EV, which gets pages of stories about a waiting list of 77,000 customers. Meanwhile, American sales of electric bikes are likely to hit a million in 2022. And according to a new study from Deloitte, e-bikes are now the most popular and desirable form of electric vehicle.

Deloitte Insights on e-bike sales

Deloitte Insights

The study is from Germany, where conditions are certainly different than in North America and e-bike sales are far higher, but it is indicative of where we are going.

According to the study, two million e-bikes were sold in Germany last year and 18% of the consumers surveyed used e-bikes, compared to 7% who used e-cars. Users found them to be an alternative to other forms of transportation (46%) and "a more sustainable form of transport"(41%). They are also fun.

"According to the respondents, e-bikes convey a higher fun factor (37%) and greater usability as sports equipment (22%). The fact that the electric motor only supports the user's physical performance and does not entirely replace it differentiates e-bikes from other means of e-mobility."

However, they are not used as much for commuting because of the "perceived lack of e-bike compatible infrastructure." Over half of the respondents used their e-bikes for everyday errands, and the trend to e-cargo bikes is enabling consumers to shop for larger purchases.

Purpose of electric means of transport

Deloitte Insights

So as the graph shows, e-cars are the most popular e-vehicle for commuting and errands, and e-bikes are still more recreational. But e-bikes and e-cargo bikes are still getting a significant share and are catching up.

Distance traveled e-bike vs e-car

Deloitte Insights

Also interesting is the trip length, with a significant overlap between e-cars and e-bikes, and with many e-bikers going up to 30 kilometers (18.5 miles).

Deloitte concluded: "E-bikes are already the most commonly used means of electric transportation in Germany. Above all, a positive perception of e-bikes among a wide range of consumers suggests further market penetration." It also noted, as we have on Treehugger many times, that "additional infrastructural adjustments will be required to further increase the attractiveness of e-bikes."

North Americans might look at this and conclude that maybe we should be paying more attention to e-bikes as a way of getting people out of cars, especially in these times of expensive gas. As Micah Toll of Electrek has noted, "Riders have discovered that electric bicycles can be effective cost-cutting measures when trying to reduce personal transportation costs. Although rare, some e-bike riders have been able to completely replace their cars, sometimes saving tens of thousands of dollars in fuel, insurance, car payments, parking, and other costs."

Deloitte noted this too in one of its insights: "The rising cost of gasoline may be fueling e-bike growth in the United States and Europe. With global uncertainty lingering even after the pandemic, e-bikes seem to represent an attractive, environmentally responsible, short-distance commute option."

Other North Americans will complain they live in the country, miles away from the nearest store and they need a car. Fine, have a car. We know from Pew Research that 86% of Americans live in the suburbs and metropolitan areas, and e-bikes can unlock the suburbs because they go longer distances, flatten hills, and are usable by people of varying abilities and ages. We have said all this before, concluding that "from any basis of comparison, be it speed of rollout, cost, equity, safety, the space taken for driving or parking, embodied carbon or operating energy, e-bikes beat e-cars for a majority of the population."

Add the Deloitte study to the pile of research that will be ignored on a continent that is devoted to the private car above all. But if the governments actually put money into safe places to ride and secure places to park and actually encouraged people to switch to e-bikes, they might find that it is a far better investment than cutting and refunding gas taxes.

View Article Sources