E-bikes have made immense progress in the recent ten years; starting from heavy machines, they evolved into modern jets for different types of riders ranging from the daily commuters to professional bikers. Each of them is taking advantage of cutting-edge motors, while most of the drive systems have been produced by five dominant manufacturers: Bosch, Bafang, Yamaha and Shimano a Brose. Tamara Winograd, Vice President of Marketing, Communications & Brand Management, from the Bosch eBike Systems unveils what stands behind the revolution.
How have the eBike motors evolved in The last 10 years? Can you name the most significant improvements that helped to make eBikes so popular?
The popularity of eBiking results in a mixture consisting of social and technical developments which influence each other. On the one hand, individual mobility needs have been changing for a while. More and more people prefer a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, and by using a pedelec, they can implement these needs. Plus, it is a recreational pleasure and a lifestyle symbol. On the other hand, technical solutions have accelerated this trend, the differentiation of the portfolio, different drives and different batteries depending on use and need. Then the motors have become lighter and more compact, which means they better integrate into the frame design. Power density has increased as well as battery capacities and features such as the Bosch eBike ABS have a positive impact on safety.
Do you have some interesting data that could describe how the eBike market changed in recent years? Who is a typical eBike user in the EU, and what segment of eBike business is now the fastest-growing?
The European eBike market has grown continuously over the last years. We have constantly seen growth rates of around 20 per cent and more per year since 2014. For instance, in 2019, about 3.6 million eBikes have been sold in Europe – a rise of 23% compared to the previous year.
The trend continues from old to young, also the sport and leisure use cases have developed rapidly. For a couple of years, urban mobility has also been developing quite strongly. All in all, the trend now goes through the most diverse use cases. Thus, a precise forecast is difficult. But recently we saw that many people have rediscovered bicycles and eBikes as individual means of transport and use them for nature trips, this has also been accelerated by COVID-19.
What can we expect in the upcoming years? Where do you see the eBike industry in the next decade?
We want to continue to set trends and remain a pacesetter in the industry. Two important topics are close to our hearts: connectivity and safety. The connected biking solutions from Bosch add a digital dimension to the riding experience. Through smartphones and the internet, the pedelec is further connected and offers eBikers additional benefits from digital services, including navigation, fitness data or security features such as the digital theft protection “Lock”. The focus is on digital solutions because they enable individual mobility that gets people to their destination with more flexibility and less stress. Furthermore, the eBiker wants to feel safe while riding, and that is why we attach great importance to diverse safety topics and solutions as well. We expect the markets to grow continuously in the coming years and expect that every second bicycle sold in the European core markets will be an eBike in the next five years.
Is your company somehow involved in building recharging infrastructure in European cities or in mountain resorts?
In selected tourism regions, we have installed charging stations for eBikers. These are ideal for people who make long, frequent journeys with their eBike. The PowerStations are offering six secured lockers to place and charge the battery. All Bosch batteries can be charged. An overview of regions in which PowerStations are available can be found here. However, we are currently working on cooperation with external partners and will not expand the PowerStations any further. We will keep you updated.
There are many controversies regarding using eBikes in both traffic and at the trail intended for MTBs. E-bikers are sometimes accused of remapping motors, breaking speed limits, pushing regular cyclists on single trails or damaging turns and jumps by being too heavy. Do you have some policy to calm down the emotions?
Whether mountain bikers or hikers, pedestrians or eBikers, they all share the same need. In the city, it’s about getting from A to B safely and comfortably, and outdoors people want to relax, enjoy nature, have fun and stay fit and healthy. We are firmly convinced that the eBike is part of the solution to fulfil those wishes.
In the city, it relieves traffic congestion and contributes to a sustainable mobility shift. For a safe coexistence on the road, however, the bicycle infrastructure must be developed further. We are also committed to responsible eBiking that complies with laws and regulations. We send a clear signal here with our anti-tuning software, which recognises and prevents manipulation.
Whether in the city or outdoors, it is essential to treat each other with mutual respect and understanding.
We believe that everyone has the right to actively enjoy nature, on a mountain bike, on foot or on an eMTB. If everybody follows the trail etiquette and takes care of each other and nature, the spirit of the trail comes to life. We want a harmonious togetherness in the forests and mountains so that hikers, mountain bikers and mountain e-bikers get what they are looking for; active-healthy exercise or active-sporting activity.