With 790 000 – mainly imported – e-bicycles sold, compared to 652 000 electric cars, the most popular electric vehicle in the United States has two wheels, greencarreports.com headlines. EV sales (BEV and PHEV) more than doubled from 296 000 in 2020. But e-bike sales almost did the same compared to the 463 000 of 2020, outselling electric cars for the second year.
No wonder the e-bike’s success is attracting ‘big money’. On Monday, the American investment company KKR made a take-over bid of 1,56 billion euros for the Dutch Accell Group, owner of bicycle brands like Raleigh, Sparta, Koga, Babboe, Haibike, Winora, Ghost, Batavus, Lapierre, and Carqon.
Greencarreports refers to figures from Bloomberg NEV and LEVA, the Light Electric Vehicle Association, and EVvolumes.com. The latter manages a database of world EV sales, showing 6,73 million electric cars were sold globally from January to December 2021, 108% more than in 2020. These EVs were 71 % BEVs and 29 % PHEVs.
China was the most significant market with 3 385 200 units sold (82% BEVs), an increase of 154%. According to Schmidt Automotive Research, Europe saw 1,19 million new BEVs on the streets, outnumbering PHEVs (1,02 million).
Getting Americans on the bike
Getting Americans on an electric bike wasn’t so easy in the past, but the corona pandemic was an accelerating factor to its popularity, like in other parts of the world. Apart from some world players like Trek Bicycles, headquartered in Waterloo (Wisconsin), most e-bikes in the US are imported.
Today, bicycle mode share or choosing a bike over a car in cities in the United States – even those showing a positive long-term trend – is under 3%, Treks says in its 2021 Sustainability Report. “Safe to say there’s a whole lot of opportunity for improvement here.”
Trips under six miles
According to a 2015 report, 28% of gross greenhouse gas emissions came from transportation in the US. Some 45% of those emissions were attributed to passenger vehicles, 59,4% were from trips under six miles (9,6 km), Trek states.
“Six miles! It’s not an unimaginable distance to ride, especially when you imagine great bike infrastructure. If you’re having trouble taking that leap, just look at a city like Amsterdam, which is renowned for its cycling infrastructure. There, cycling mode share tops 40% for trips under this same distance. In the colder climate of Copenhagen, bike mode share is 24%,” adds Trek.
According to the latest figures available from the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (CONEBI), in 2020, a total of 22 million bikes were sold in Europe, of which 4,6 million e-bikes. Some 80% (3,6 million) were assembled on the old continent. That number will be more significant for 2021. After China, Europe is still the most extensive bicycle manufacturer.
Netherlands’ biggest bike maker
So American investor giant KKR & Co knows where to put its money. With the take-over bid, the Netherlands’ biggest bike manufacturer Accell hopes to accelerate its growth as of 2023, especially internationally. The company will mainly focus on Europe and the United States, both good for 80% of the global market.
Although KKR is often seen as an investor who buys up companies to resell parts separately afterward, nothing will change, for the time being. Headquarters remain in Heerenveen, Ton Anbeek will stay at the helm as CEO, and the rights of the more than 3 000 employees will be respected.