As a way to get from here to there, bicycles have a lot to offer. Biking is good for your health. It’s good for the planet. It’s cheaper than driving or public transit. Getting people out of cars and onto bikes eases traffic congestion, too.
But, for a host of reasons, not everyone can bike for transportation. Electric bicycles will expand the number of people who can — by making cycling easier, a bit quicker and less sweaty (which matters if you are commuting to work.)
Outside of the US, electric bicycles are doing really well–much better than electric cars, it turns out. Can they make it America? That’s the topic of my story which has just been published on the excellent YaleEnviromment360 website.
Here’s how it begins:
Most Americans know about Tesla, the Chevy Volt, and the Nissan Leaf. But what about Evelo, the eZip Trailz, and the Faraday Porteur?
The first three are, of course, electric cars. They benefit from a lot of media attention and generous government subsidies, including a $7,500 tax credit for buyers in the United States. The latter are electric bicycles, and they attract neither.
Yet Americans bought as many electric bicycles as they did electric cars last year. About 53,000 electric bicycles were sold, according to Dave Hurst, an analyst with Navigant Research who tracks the industry. Electric car sales came in at 52,835.
Globally, electric bicycles outsell electric cars by a wide margin. An estimated 29.3 million e-bicycles were sold in 2012, with perhaps 90 percent of those selling in China, which has more electric bikes than cars on its roads. E-bicycles are popular in Europe, too, selling about 380,000 a year in Germany and 175,000 in the Netherlands in 2012. By comparison, about 120,000 electric caris were sold worldwide.
You can read the rest of the story here.
I hope electric bicycles find a market here. They should appeal to young people in bike-friendly cities and to aging baby boomers (like me!) I tested an e-bike from Evelo last week (here’s my account), and I’m hoping to check out some other models soon.