In a new report, Navigant Research forecasts that global annual sales of e-bicycles will grow modestly from 31.7 million units in 2014 to 40.3 million units in 2023 under a base scenario—a CAGR of 2.7%. Navigant expects China, the market leader, to reach 28.8 million e-bicycle sales this year under the base scenario, representing 91% of the total global market. In 2023, Navigant expects China to have 85% of the total market.
This growth in demand is expected to result in revenue for global e-bicycle sales of $13.5 billion by 2023. Under Navigant Research’s aggressive scenario, in which e-bicycle become a stronger alternative to passenger vehicles in urban environments, global e-bicycle sales could reach as many as 44.4 million units annually by 2023.
Navigant forecasts faster growth for North America, Western Europe, and Latin America (6.8%, 12.3%, and 9.5% CAGRs, respectively). Western Europe is currently the second-largest e-bicycle market (behind China), with nearly 1.2 million sales in 2014 expected to increase to just over 3.3 million by 2023. North America has surpassed the Middle East as the third-largest market in the world, and Navigant expects e-bicycle sales in the region to grow to nearly 286,000 units by 2023.
Innovative emerging trends in the e-bicycle market have helped position the industry for increased market growth, the report observes. Among other trends, combined throttle-control and pedal-assist models; electric cargo bicycles (e-cargo bikes); all-in-one retrofit kits and wheels; 3D-printed bicycles; and the use of e-bicycles in police patrol and various security industries have all contributed to a growing market with strong potential.
While numerous countries in Western Europe and Asia Pacific have developed mature e-bike markets due to strong commuter cultures that utilize e-bicycles for transportation purposes, e-bicycles still represent an emerging market in North America, where they have largely been treated as a novel type of sporting equipment rather than a vehicle for transportation, the report says.
Market forces shaping the global e-bicycle industry include:
Growing acceptance of e-bicycles as the fastest and cheapest way to adopt electric transportation;
Increasing usage of bicycles for commuting purposes;
Growing urbanization is pushing consumers toward alternative forms of transportation;
Increasing maturity of products is encouraging acceptance of e-bicycles among those who may not have considered them in the past;
Increasing quality and affordability of lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries;
Continuing government support for sustainable transportation in key markets;
Overall long-term increase of liquid fuel prices and air pollution concerns; and
Rebounding economy in North America and, to a lesser degree, Europe.
Demographically, e-bicycle riders have been shifting toward younger populations, the report says. While the e-bicycle was previously relegated to older generations (aging baby boomers), the past few years are showing increasing interest from those under age 40 in both North America and Western Europe.
Several industry participants interviewed for this report stated that young professionals utilizing e-bicycles for commuting are expected to play a significant role in shaping the growth of the overall e-bicycle market in those two regions.
While sealed lead-acid (SLA) batteries continue to be the largest segment of the market due to their low cost and popularity in the Asia Pacific region, the market share of this chemistry is expected to significantly decrease due to the environmental and performance advantages of Li-ion batteries, the report finds.