The next decade is going to be defined by a revolution of battery-powered transportation, and the vehicle that will lead the charge won’t be the Tesla Model 3 or even the wildly polarizing Cybertruck. And it definitely won’t be an electric scooter.
It will be an electric bike.
For years, electric bikes were relegated to niche status in most countries. Between 2006 and 2012, e-bikes represented less than 1 percent of all annual bike sales. In 2013, only 1.8 million e-bikes were solid in all of Europe, while customers in the US bought a measly 185,000.
But things started to shift, thanks to improvements in lithium-ion battery technology, pricing, power, as well a growing movement in cities to shift away from gasoline-powered cars to zero-emission vehicles. Now, analysts are saying they expect e-bike sales to enter warp speed over the next few years.
Deloitte, which released its annual technology, media, and telecommunications predictions last week, says it expects 130 million e-bikes to be sold globally between 2020 and 2023. It also noted that “the number of e-bikes on the roads will easily outpace other e-vehicles by the end of next year.”
I had to rub my eyes after I read that last part. It seems preposterous on the surface, given American attitudes toward cars (love ‘em! bigger the better!) and the media hype surrounding new EVs, especially from companies like Tesla. Also, Americans tend to view bikes more as recreational vehicles than as legitimate transportation, something you use in fair weather, not in the rain and snow like the Dutch. In the US and Canada, only about 1 percent of the workforce commutes by bike today.
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