By Jazz Walia, CEO, Tannus Tyres
In my opinion, this will be the year that e-bike usage skyrockets as consumers finally embrace technological advancements that have sparked the cycling industry into the modern age.
In a new era of city mobility, e-bikes, without a doubt, are going to become the vehicle of choice. You only have to glance at the numbers to recognise that this is more than a passing fad – the e-bike market was valued at £4.9 billion in 2018, but that figure is forecasted to have more than doubled by 2023, when it is predicted to have grown to £11.8 billion – this is according to the Confederation of the European Bike Industry and The Light Electric Vehicle Association.
While the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted many industries, it has only accelerated the market’s appetite for electric bikes. Even pre-COVID, the e-bike sector was expected to grow by double digits every year for the foreseeable future. But now, with consumers becoming increasingly health-conscious and looking for a viable alternative to public transport, the e-bike seems to tick all the boxes and the sales figures show they’re proving to be more popular than ever.
When you add on the environmental benefit and the ability to weave through traffic sweat-free, it’s easy to see why the e-bike is the most talked-about method of transport this year. This, in conjunction with mooted plans from the UK Government to boost the use of electric bikes with a taxpayer-funded scheme, is why I believe there will be a proliferation of e-bikes on our streets in 2021.
According to The Times, the e-bike funding scheme could be similar to the grants available for plug-in vehicles, which offer up to 35% discount off the purchase cost. Ministers hope the programme will help those who are less fit or older, who might be daunted by regular bikes, to get back in the saddle. They could be given up to a third off the £600-£3,000 cost of a new bike to encourage them to exercise more and leave the car at home.
When you consider that sales of electric bikes and e-scooters tripled in 2020, it does make you wonder – are we on the cusp of an electric revolution here?
My only concern is that consumers may have a problem trying to change their tyres, particularly the back one as the weight of the rider and the motor could make it vulnerable. If that starts to manifest itself, I’d be foolish not to advise dealers to start stocking our Tannus Armour inserts which give added protection, or any other similar brands because we need the public to be safe. The crazy thing is that in my eyes, we are still only seeing the tip of the iceberg here in the UK.
In recent years, electric cars have stolen the headlines and received a great deal of press coverage, but globally, electric bicycles outsell electric cars by some margin. And if the Government subsidy comes into place this year to make e-bikes more affordable as expected, then we are forecasting a 30-40% increase in demand overnight.
Such is the fanfare in the industry around the scheme that some suppliers are even worried that demand could outstrip supply in what could be the most transformative change to urban transport in modern history.
Only time will tell, but in my 20 years of experience in the bicycle industry, I can honestly say I’ve never come across such an appetite!