Size of E-Bike market question

Clark

Member
I'm completely new to e-bikes, learning about them by chance from my college roomate 6 months ago - who commutes to work out west on an optibike. I'm getting ready to buy my first e-bike to use for work purposes mainly and I'm just curious, does anybody have reliable information as to the number of e-bike users in the U.S. who use e-bikes for commuting or work purposes? I read this article on Harley unveiling their first electric motorcycle.

Specifically: "The venture is a risk for Harley because there's currently almost no market for full-size electric motorcycles. The millions of two-wheeled electric vehicles sold each year are almost exclusively scooters and low-powered bikes that appeal to Chinese commuters."

Are the numbers of e-bike commuters or just e-bike users so low that a writer at that level, I assume he researched, would completely overlook the American market? Just wondering.

Clark
 

James

Well-Known Member
I read that article this morning too! I thought the same thing about the "scooters and low-powered bikes" comment... pretty weird. I know that the Chinese market is still the biggest by a pretty wide margin, but isn't Harley Davidson's biggest market North America?
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
More and more companies are getting into hybrid transportation and electric. I just saw this great BMW commercial for their new electric and everyone knows about the Tesla Model S and prior Roadster. Other electric motorcycles include those from ZERO.


Regarding electric bicycles... I've read that in the US ebike adoption is growing and I've heard some estimate that it is growing faster than normal bike sales (so it's not a larger number of sales, just a category that is expanding more as people discover it). I've also heard people at conferences estimate that 1 in 3 new bikes sold in Europe are now electric assist. I'll try to add more supporting statistics here but I can say that I've seen massive growth in the ElectricBikeReview.com website... but that may be due to my own effort gathering reviews and creating this forum. Two and a half years ago this site received ~400 visits a day and now it receives ~2,200.

Bicycle retailers that I know have said that some major brands are selling out of all the bikes they make each year and have experienced 200%+ growth year over year from 2013 to 2014. I've heard this directly from some brands (not the figure, just that they are doing very well and experiencing growth).
 

Clark

Member
Pete at Electric Bike Report has a good article regarding ebike sales numbers in the USA. 15 million bicycles sold yearly, 173k+ ebikes sold 2013, looks like they researched #'s as best they could.

I cannot imagine these numbers won't grow fairly steadily, given population growing older, need for alternative transportation and move towards populated cities. I think the bigger players in the industry need to come together - as an industry - Remember those commercials for beef I think Sam Elliot did the voice work and it ended something like what's on your plate? (big picture of a beautiful Porterhouse).

Anyway it was brought to you by the Cattleman's association or whatever, my point being they got together all joining this association to spread the cost out to get the word out about beef at a time of lagging sales. Can't the big players and little, form an association, pool their money and put the word out about ebikes? I'm telling you I found out about them by accident, when i talk to people about them they look at me like I have a third eye on my forehead.

EBR is great, Court does a great job, but for the unwashed masses out there it will take a sizable marketing campaign to gain any serious market penetration - if it's at a little over 1% of the market now with zero mainstream ads, imagine what could happen with a decent national advertising campaign 5%? 10%? I'm new to this but the biz seems to have a bad biz model.

Clark
 

DashRiprock

Active Member
"..I'm telling you I found out about them by accident, when i talk to people about them they look at me like I have a third eye on my forehead...EBR is great, Court does a great job, but for the unwashed masses out there it will take a sizable marketing campaign to gain any serious market penetration - if it's at a little over 1% of the market now with zero mainstream ads, imagine what could happen with a decent national advertising campaign 5%? 10%? I'm new to this but the biz seems to have a bad biz model. Clark
I got into this by accident also and believe (at least from my short observation) that it is the competitive nature of the industry, lack of funds available at the average manufacturing level to look beyond same and frankly the resistance of dealers to get on board with ebikes. I had one dealer claim to me that they would never offer them and another not even advertise that they serviced ebikes in the first place (authorized service shop for an ebike manufacturer) let alone list them as an 'option' when describing all the bikes out there (in detail) on their website.

Lastly, it is my belief that a lot of these distributors have been burned by bad designs, crappy materials, old technology and simply the cost of servicing these things without getting paid..forever (warranty expectations from not properly exercising a battery alone; let alone chasing bad wires/connections would frustrate me).

People want to have a light duty motor on an even lighter duty drive supported by the lightest frame possible made out of the least expensive material possible...drive it just as fast as possible (hitting obstacles at a good clip now)....and have it cost what/let alone have it be 'warrantied' for how long(?).

Agreed that the segment needs marketing in a big way...yet I'm not just so sure (yet) that the average mechanically/electrically challenged 'American' (at least) can handle their expectations properly enough (let alone grasp much of the above) to not piss off even more dealers/manufacturers despite the technological improvements (evidently) surrounding ebikes the last few years alone.

I can't imagine a much tougher business to be in right now despite what should be the best time to be in this business.