Tuesday, March 20, 2012
E-Bikes are Coming
Love at First Sight from PiMobility on Vimeo.
As I was walking into my building today, a gentleman was walking out with a folding electric bike. I asked him how he liked it and he said he loved it, even with its $1200 price tag. I would assume that we are going to see more of this with gas prices getting nearer to their July, 2008 high of $4.11. And the end of this particular uptick may not be over yet, as tensions with Iran and an improving economy are blamed for pushing prices up. (Robert Reich says its Wall Street speculation driving up prices.)
The price for a trip to fill the tank has risen 17% just in this year. (The increase is also spurring more support for oil drilling.) Somewhat ironically but also logically, prices for hybrid and high-MPG cars are also rising. The AAA has estimated that the cost of car ownership has climbed to more than $8,000 a year. That's enough to purchase between 3 and 4 electric bikes (the cost to charge an e-bike will vary by region but is estimated to be around $.20 per charging cycle, or, at a charging cycle each day, around $65 per year).
Obviously, an e-bike is not a mini-van, but when you see all the single-person cars out on the roads, you've got to wonder...why have sales of e-bikes lagged in the U.S.? Pike Research says the market for two-wheeled e-bikes should grow around 9 percent each year through 2016. However, in spite of sales outlets at places such as BestBuy, e-bikes in the U.S. just don't have an established channel. Small independent dealers are also out there, yet not able to have much media reach.
Sales in the U.S. are expected to be about 250,000 ebikes annually, far below Chinese and European sales. The range of pricing on e-bikes is very wide, from the $399 electric conversion kit from Currie Technologies to the $2,100 Giant Twist to the $5,669 Picycle (featured above).
What will it take to get you to switch to an e-bike?