E-Bikes Are the Most Attractive Mode of Transport in Germany

A study from Deloitte says they beat e-cars and scooters.

E-Biking in Bavaria

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A Deloitte study looked at the various modes of e-mobility in Germany to find e-bikes are all charged up and leading the pack. While German cities are very different from North American ones, some interesting issues raised in the study are universal.

The most surprising finding was the number of e-bikes: 18% of the respondents stated they used an e-bike, compared to an also impressive 7% who said they use an e-car. E-bikes were considered practical compared to regular bikes because of the reduced physical exertion and extended range. Another benefit of e-bikes over e-cars is that they are not just transportation but also fun. This apparently makes them the most "attractive" form of an electric vehicle.

e-bike attractiveness


"According to the respondents, e-bikes convey a higher fun factor (37%) and greater usability as sports equipment (22%)," the study reads. "The fact that the electric motor only supports the user's physical performance and does not entirely replace it differentiates e-bikes from other means of e-mobility. In contrast to other means of electric transportation, e-bikes are commonly used for sporting purposes (40%) as well as for recreational tours and excursions (67%)."

However, they were used less than e-cars for commuting, with users complaining about a lack of e-bike-compatible infrastructure and, of course, weather. 

In North America, we often hear that you need a car to run errands but in Germany, just over half of the e-bike users managed to do so. However, 68% of the e-car users did, probably "due to the ability to transport larger items such as beverage crates." The study noted; however, that "the trend of electrified cargo bikes and/or trailers enables consumers to also use e-bikes for larger purchases."

E-bike trip length
Trip length by means of electric transportation.


Perhaps the most interesting numbers are those for the distance traveled. E-bikes are used for trips with a median length of 15 kilometers (9.3 miles), significantly less than the 25-kilometer (15.5-mile) median trip length for the e-cars but still a big number for a bike trip.

The study stated:

"E-bikes are already the most commonly used means of electric transportation in Germany. Above all, a positive perception of e-bikes among a wide range of consumers suggests further market penetration. The combination of higher ranges (compared to conventional bicycles), more environmentally conscious transportation (compared to cars with internal combustion engines), and sportive activity meets current consumer demands and distinguishes e-bikes from other electric transportation."

They also noted the need for better bike lanes: "Additional infrastructural adjustments will be required to further increase the attractiveness of e-bikes if this type of electric transportation becomes more widespread."

Trip length in USA
The average trip length in the U.S.

Department of Energy Efficiency

This bodes well for North America, which has lagged behind European countries in e-bike uptake. The U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency said: "Data collected on one-way household trips show that the majority (59.4%) of vehicle trips were less than six miles. In fact, three-fourths of all trips are ten miles or less." So the argument that the U.S. is bigger and the trips are longer really doesn't wash.

Others tell us that it is too hot or that the infrastructure is terrible, but according to NPR, cities in Texas are investing in bike infrastructure. Even Dallas, which is considered the worst city for biking in the country, is rolling out 1,100 miles of bike lanes. E-bikes are wonderful in hot weather because you don't work as hard, and you get the breeze while you move.

For the e-bike revolution to take off, we need good affordable bikes, safe places to ride, and secure places to park. It's also apparent that we need better regulation of e-bikes to ensure they all meet the UL 2849 standard to eliminate battery fires like those happening in New York City.

But look at Germany. Deloitte concluded: "The overall success of e-bikes can be expected to continue both in terms of further penetration of e-bikes in the bicycle market and in terms of total sales. Additionally, the potential of corporate bike leasing and better e-bike availability after recent supply problems could drive e-bike sales figures in Germany even further. Thus, e-bikes could extend their lead in the short and medium-term due to their current advantages over e-cars and e-scooters."

This seems likely to happen in North America as well.

View Article Sources
  1. "E-Bikes Are Charged Up." Deloitte, 2022.