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Pike Research forecasts annual sales of electric bicycles to surpass 47M units by 2018; Li-ion battery share to climb to 12%

Electric bicycle sales by region, world markets: 2012-2018. Source: Pike Research. Click to enlarge.

Pike Research forecasts that the worldwide market for e-bicycles will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.4% between 2012 and 2018, resulting in global sales of 47.6 million vehicles in 2018, up form more than 30 million units in 2012. Under a more aggressive forecast scenario, worldwide e-bicycle sales could reach 51 million units and $13.2 billion revenue in 2018, Pike suggests.

Pike expects China to account for 42.4 million of these e-bicycles that year, giving it 89% of the total world market. Western Europe follows in second place with 1.5 million e-bicycles sold in 2018 and a CAGR of 11.8%. The North American market will be comparatively small with e-bicycle sales of 105,682 in 2012, growing to 342,526 units in 2018. By 2018, North American e-bicycle sales are expected to near their peak, according to Pike.

E-bicycle sales volumes are being driven by macroeconomic trends such as the growth of urbanization and the increasing need for low-cost transportation in developing markets. Additionally, Pike notes, the e-bicycle market is very broad, with a number of manufacturers offering different styles including throttle-controlled drive trains (twist-and-go, no pedaling); pedal-assist electric bicycles (pedelecs); and scooter-style electric bicycles (SSEBs).

SSEBs are all throttle-controlled designs and are the most popular e-bicycles in Asia Pacific. For the most part, e-bicycles are defined by their top speed (<20 mph/32 km/h in North America and <15.5 mph/25 km/h in other regions) and operating pedals; in Western Europe, the bicycles must be pedelecs. In general, the pedelec design has not done well in markets where consumers have a choice between throttle-controlled and pedelec e-bicycles, Pike says.

The vast majority of the e-bicycles sold in China, the world’s largest market, utilize sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries. By utilizing SLA batteries, the cost of e-bicycles in China averages about $167 (compared to $815 in North America and $1,546 in Western Europe). However, lead poisoning has become a serious public health concern, resulting in crackdowns on SLA manufacturing facilities that closed almost 90% of battery manufacturing and recycling facilities in late 2011. (Many of these are expected to reopen quickly, Pike notes.) In 2011, China consumed approximately 41% of the world’s lead.

Pike Research anticipates that the global penetration of lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries will grow from 6% in 2012 to 12% in 2018. Cost pressures from Asia Pacific will keep manufacturers interested in SLA batteries through this decade, but once manufacturing efficiencies have driven down the costs of Li-ion, the market will start to see the decline of SLA as the battery of choice in e-bicycles.

In 2012, Western Europe has the largest concentration of e-bicycles with Li-ion batteries (65%), compared to 56% in North America and 4% in Asia Pacific.



Pike has I know what will NOT happen LOL


"The North American market will be comparatively small with e-bicycle sales of 105,682 in 2012, growing to 342,526 units in 2018."

What a nice eufemism: 'comparatively small'. How about 'virtually non-existent'? Dutch sales of e-bikes over 2011 were about 250.000 units.


I don't know where Pike gets their numbers but they seem to be way off. China produced and sold about 90% (close to 30 M) of all 33 M e-bikes produced-sold in 2011. If the current e-bike sale growth rate keeps up in China, the local e-bikes sale and production could reach 100 M/year by 2016. Will the rest of the world keep up and sell (or purchase from China) 10 M /year by 2016?


@anne it is euphemism.

E bikes are a great solution for hot cities. For cool or temperate cities (like most of western Europe + Japan), p bikes will do.
When it is cold, you are probably better off on a p-bike.

I am sure the Chinese could sort out the lead dumping if they added a deposit to lead acid batteries as they have on cars and bottles in many countries.

They could start it now, even without making pay up front.
If each Lead acid battery had a value of $5, there wouldn't be too many left lying around.

E bikes are great because they are so easy to park and use much less space than cars in cities.

It is a pity they don't take to them in the USA.


This is the first and only projection from Pike that I actually might believe in. Simply, because this trend has already started, which is not the case for their other projections, e.g. regarding EVs.


Twelve years ago EVs were to rule the highways by 2018.

Now it's E bikes for everyone.


In 1992, the EV1 was going to be big and by 2012 not so much. We can blame the usual suspects, but the outcome is the same.

Now we are suppose to believe that in 20 years EVs will be real big, so just forget about all that liquid fuel and join the party. That is like jumping off a cliff with no parachute...not wise.


Very true - I think most do not plan to actually jump themselves, they want every one else and the GOV to.


The idea seems to be that everyone will buy an EV, so we can forget about liquid fuels. Then everyone does NOT buy EVs, we have done nothing about alternatives to oil, then we end up with few EVs still dependent on oil...not a good plan.


Perhaps they can get the price down.


IOW, they are too damned expensive.

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