Both pedal bicycles and electric-assist bicycles are important alternative forms of transportation, helping to reduce private car use. But electric bikes have long been the quickest growing category of two-wheelers. This year Germany is set to hit a major milestone that will see e-bikes outsell pedal bicycles for the first time.
Germany has spent years enjoy a leadership position in the European electric bicycle market. Not only is it home to several top brands of electric bikes, but most mid-drive electric bike motors used in Europe come from German manufacturers such as Bosch and Brose.
According to the German Bicycle Industry Association, sales of bikes in Germany reached a new record of €7.36 billion last year, or roughly US $7.8 billion. E-bikes made up nearly half of that total, but now the group is forecasting that German riders will buy more e-bikes than conventional models this year.
Electric bicycles have already proven incredibly popular in Germany, with surveys taken last year showing more than twice the adoption compared to electric cars in the country.
According to a Deloitte study, survey respondents in Germany were 2.5 times as likely to report using an electric bicycle compared to an electric car. Approximately 7% of respondents reported driving an electric car while 18% used an electric bicycle.
Other countries in Europe have also seen high rates of e-bike adoption, with similar trends of e-bikes outpacing electric car usage. Interestingly, some analysts predict that e-bikes in Europe could even outnumber all cars, electric or combustion engine-powered, by the end of the decade.
The Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (CONEBI) expects the size of the European e-bike market to grow to around 7 million units by 2025.
Other experts have even loftier predictions, projecting around 10 million e-bike sales per year by 2025, according to Bike Europe.
The outpacing of cars by e-bikes could be further accelerated by a shift away from private car ownership predicted by PWC, which forecasts as much as a 25% drop in car ownership in the next five years.