While electric bicycles have been around since the 19th century, the mass appeal of e-bikes has just begun to take shape.
A decade ago, electric bikes were more or less viewed as a novelty items in America, like a toy you could show off to your friends. That is no longer the case. In only a few short years, the e-bike industry has exploded, and customer demand is at an all-time high.
Commuters from across the country are yearning for a less expensive, time saving, and environmentally conscious way to travel. Millions have already made an investment and achieved freedom from car dependence. We know that the market for e-bikes is picking up steam right now, but what does the future of the e-bike industry hold?
Sales Are Projected to Grow
If the explosion of China’s e-bike industry is any indication of growth in America, then the market should rise quickly and isn’t likely to slow anytime soon. A recent report by Navigant suggests that industry sales will approach $24.4 billion by 2025. This should be very attractive for investors, which will lead to better technology, lower prices, and wider availability of e-bikes and other electric vehicles.
Innovations in Technology Will Lead to Better Batteries
Massive improvements in batteries have already occurred in the last decade. Lithium ion technology has allowed the advancement of electric cars and lightweight electric vehicles around the world.
Having a better way to store energy will make electric bikes capable of charging at lightening speeds, and will also improve power, speed, and range. If people can travel faster and farther on their e-bikes, it will become a more practical and necessary investment for individuals living in suburban and even rural communities.
E-Bikes Will Be “Smart”
One of the biggest deterrents for people hesitating to purchase an e-bike is the fear of being injured. Some cities have banned lightweight electric vehicles altogether because of the prevalence of cyclists disobeying traffic laws and frequent collisions with cars or pedestrians.
Many high end electric bikes have amazing features and phone apps, but the e-bike industry of the future will be more in depth in its focus on safety. For instance, local traffic laws and ordinances may be heard when approaching a red light or traffic sign. The app may alert you when a tire is at risk of becoming flat, automatically sound a horn when approaching pedestrians or cars, or immediately calling 911 in the event of an accident. This will help make it easier and simpler for new riders to obey city laws, and help prevent unnecessary injury.
Urban Dwelling Millennials Will Likely Ditch Cars and Cabs
As mobility options become more diverse, and city streets become even more congested, there will likely be a massive shift in the way younger people get around. It’s already become evident that many millennials are changing their driving habits. According to a University of Michigan study conducted in 2014, over 23% of people ages 20 to 24 chose not to get a driver’s license. That’s up from only 8.2% of men and women of the same age group in 1983.
In less than a decade, when those same twenty somethings are in their mid to late thirties, there is a good chance they’ll be getting to and from the office with alternative forms of transportation. Even if they live far enough to commute, they may choose the bus or subway and opt for a folding electric bike to make efficient use of the last few miles from the station to their home or workplace.
Cities Will Need to Adapt
As demand for e-bikes rise, metropolitan areas will need to take a second look at their current infrastructure. They will likely be accommodating as many lightweight electric vehicles as motor vehicles, and bike lanes will become more prevalent and take up much more of the roadway.
Perhaps sidewalks and other pedestrian pathways will be altered as well to make way for scooters, hoverboards and whatever else the future has in store for us. The U.S. may need to look at some of the innovative ways that Europe has adjusted to the trend. Major cities from Ireland to Italy are creating plans to ban private cars completely by establishing “car-free” zones. As public transportation improves, it may be unnecessary to drive a car in the city at all.
Sustainably Powered Charging Stations Will Become the Norm
When communities reach the point where e-bikes and similar vehicles take over the streets and sidewalks, there will be a huge demand for places where people can charge their rides. While many of today’s e-bike users can get away with discreetly charging at the office or local coffee shop, in the future, there may be millions of people in any given city who need a mid-day charge. The high demand could drive up the cost of traditional energy sources, such as coal burning power plants.
Thankfully, innovative companies like Tesla are already creating better ways of bringing solar and wind energy to individuals. Hopefully by the time electric bikes become a necessary part of life for everyone, cities will have already built sustainably powered charging locations. These stations will have wind turbines or solar panels and people will be able to hook up to an outlet for a few minutes and quickly be on their way.
As climate change, carbon emissions, and epic traffic jams continue to warn us that the glory days of the car industry are coming to a screeching halt, more people will be eager to make the switch themselves. The times are changing fast, and while many markets sit uncomfortably in limbo, waiting for the new generations to choose their destination, it seems that the e-bike industry and companies like Genesis will be moving forward, helping humanity make the transition towards a more sustainable future.