E-BIKES SUCCESS STORY ROLLS ONWARDS AND UPWARDS - BUT WHERE NEXT?

According to the latest market figures from the German Bike Industry Association (ZIV), for the first time over one million e-bikes were sold in Germany in 2019 – the exact number was 1.36 million. The growth curve for electric bikes continues to increase. Experts predict that the success story is set to continue in coming years – but argue that infrastructure needs to change.

The ZIV projects that the market share of e-bikes could rise from the predicted 35 per cent to as much as 40 or 50 per cent. This would translate into around two million e-bikes sold in Germany per year. Bosch also says that every second bike sold in Germany might soon have an electric motor.

“Medium term, there is no sign of stagnation in the e-bike market. Short term, we’re expecting further dynamic growth,”

E-systems providers are optimistic about the future – especially given that e-bikes are only starting to pick up speed in other European countries.

 

There is now virtually no bike collection without electric drive models. E-mountain bikes for kids and e-gravel bikes are both trends at this year’s EUROBIKE. Cargo bikes and their ongoing success would also be hard to imagine were it not for electric motors. This continuing extension into new areas and new target groups is helping to keep bikes in the media and support the e-bike’s position as a solution to contemporary problems such as air pollution, lack of space and road congestion. 

However, the continued success also depends on infrastructure improvements.

“In order to guarantee the success of e-bikes, we need a modern cycling policies and above all an intelligent bike infrastructure.”

“Improvements are needed. Maybe e-bikes will provide the lever to drive further change.” This includes an extensive network of wider bicycle lanes, charging stations and theft-proof bike parking. These are preconditions for the e-bike mobility concept to prevail and bring about sustainable transition of transport. “These issues need more momentum and above all more emphasis,” comments Michael Wild.

E-bike products might appear fully-developed, but for the future there is still real potential especially when it comes to connectivity – something that has now been recognised. For example, e-bike manufacturer Riese & Müller offers a special chip on its e-bike fleet that helps prevent theft and that will in future be used to carry out software updates and send emergency messages via smartphone in the event of a crash.

 

This constant technicization is also bringing new players into the market, who are in turn introducing innovative changes. Greyp from Croatia is one such example. The team headed by founder Mate Rimac sees itself not as a bike manufacturer, but as a digital technology leader. 22 of its 70 employees are IT experts. Mate Rimac, sometimes referred to as the Elon Musk of the Balkans, actually focuses his company Rimac Automobili on developing high-quality e-cars. They came to e-bikes more by coincidence. By applying technical developments from the automobile sector, the company has produced an e-mountain bike that raises eyebrows rather for its digital technology than for its riding characteristics. For example, if the bike is stolen then the drive system shuts down and can only be re-started by the owner’s smartphone. In addition, the e-bike has integrated cameras to film a ride. This will soon be able to be live-streamed via diverse social media channels. A built-in eSIM chip makes this possible by providing constant connectivity via the Internet. The user’s smartphone serves as the display and can also be used to perform cloud updates and system improvements. Moreover, the e-bike is sold by Deutsche Telekom who provide the eSIM chip. The future of e-bikes is beginning.