Report: Here come the two-wheel electric vehicles
The Kalkhoff Pro Connect Wave e-bike
The media may be breathlessly reporting about electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf, the Chevy Volt and the Tesla Roadster, but a report out this week from Lux Research highlights a quietly growing electric vehicle market that’s poised to roar in the next five years: electric bikes and scooters.
Researchers at Lux Research report that the market for batteries for so-called e-bikes and scooters will grow from $6.4 billion in 2010 to $10.9 billion by 2015. That’s the largest segment of the overall electric vehicle power storage market, which is projected to grow from $7.7 billion in 2010 to $14.5 billion in 2015.
Such numbers aren’t surprising to Eric von der Heyden, who with his partner Geoffrey Wagner formed Greenlight Bikes LLC in February to import and sell German-engineered e-bikes.
Based in Portland, the company has the exclusive license to sell Kalkhoff e-bikes in North America.
After introducing them in 2007, Kalkhoff will sell 80,000 of their bikes in the European market this year, von der Heyden said. His plans for Greenlight are much more modest given the nascent market for bike commuting in the United States. He’s aiming to surpass 10,000 sold — the bikes are priced in the neighborhood of $3,000 each — by Greenlight in two to three years.
“We’re kind of figuring this out as we go along,” he said. “Portland is the perfect place to start the business. Even though we’re selling across the country it’s important for us to be successful here.”
Von der Heyden said he signed on with Kalkhoff because it is the top brand in Europe, but virtually every bike maker is introducing an e-bike model. Electric bikes are hugely popular in China, where 20 million e-bikes were sold last year.
In March, the Sightline Institute of Seattle published a special series on e-bikes. One article cites the Northwest’s strong bike culture, where fixed-gear riders are heroes, as a potential detriment to widespread adoption of motor-assisted bicycles.
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