The future of the electric car? The electric bike!

Most car manufacturers involved in electricity now produce or co-produce e-bikes. A natural development?

With the pandemic increasing demand, sales of electric bicycles are exploding to such an extent that manufacturers are struggling to keep up, which has the effect of extending delivery times, sometimes by several months. In France, 660,000 UAEs (electrically assisted bicycles) were sold in 2021 compared to 515,000 in 2020, an increase of 28% over the previous year. In value, the increase is even more striking, as it stands at + 15% to 3.4 billion euros. As a result of this good health, the electric bicycle now represents 24% of the market in volume and 59% in value.

So yes, electric bikes are popular, and it may be that this success attracts greed among … automakers.

An attraction that is not entirely new when we know that Ford, in full transformation towards its goal of becoming a “smart mobility company”, for example, had already been approved for an assisted bike in 2014.

But the trend seems to be growing in recent months, so much so that announcements on the subject are following each other at a steady pace. Thus, car giants such as BMW, Volkswagen, Seat, Peugeot and Skoda enter the market for electric scooters and bicycles.

And they are not alone. Even in the German premium we go with his battery-powered bike. Porsche, for example, already has its range of super eBike Sport and eBike Cross, and has just invested in successive two-wheeler manufacturers, in Croatia with Greyp Bikes and in Germany with Fazua (for the latter it is a redemption after an interim period of entry into the capital up to 20%). Audi has been on the move for ten years since its first electric mountain bike concept – already connected via WiFi – was introduced in 2012. A very elitist strategy, however, as the German brand at the time only offered an “e-tron Bike” model. in a limited edition of 100 copies for … € 15,300. The machine is no longer in the catalog, and it has been radio silence ever since, if we put aside this fun four-wheeled electric scooter, which appeared in secret, and this, more conventional, designed by Segway, still available for sale (but which only has Audi brand, and which is absolutely nothing groundbreaking).

If we continue this small inventory, from Bugatti to Mercedes via Aston Martin or Toyota, not to mention Peugeot, slightly different from a historical manufacturer of bicycles, we find VAE or electric scooters in the catalog of almost all major manufacturers. A movement that follows almost parallel to their transition to electromobility. Moreover, even motorcycle manufacturers like Harley-Davidson and Ducati go into it, although this whim of the bike in their case seems more natural.

In short, we could still quote many of those kinds.

Why this sudden enthusiasm among the car manufacturers for the little electric queen?

Big cities in particular are finding it increasingly difficult to navigate by car. Governments are well aware of the need to reduce CO2 emissions, and the electric car contributes greatly to this, at least in terms of use. It is to be expected that initiatives aimed at improving air quality in the big cities will be even more in the future, which will of course be at the expense of cars (even electric, are we betting on?) And in favor of soft mobility. Although the automotive industry is unlikely to die out completely, manufacturers should consider expanding their offerings and looking for other ways to increase revenue.

But before the lure to profit – which is still marginal compared to the monumental revenue that the car generates – it is probably first and foremost a matter of image. Of course, I see you coming when we talk about image in the field of eco-mobility, the suspicion of greenwashing is never far away. But it’s not so sure. The bicycle, a fortiori electric, is an object of merchandising and communication that carries a message that is perceived as sympathetic. In addition to the image of “pure” mobility that generally affects young people and urban dwellers, VAE symbolizes a new lifestyle consisting of eco-responsibility, an attraction for technology and individual freedom and traffic. Values ​​that are in line with the car manufacturers’ discourse in full transformation towards electromobility.

On the other hand, this offer, which is very opportune to be added to the catalog of manufacturers, allows them to give themselves another chance to keep their customers in the lap by offering them something other than a single car. do someadditional sales Offering a branded bike can not hurt and it can even serve as a substitute selling point for the banal dealer discount.

Finally, to show that we are able to offer advanced pedelecs – even if we do not manufacture them – in the brand’s colors is a sign of know-how, which customers are certainly not insensitive to. There is a certain “fetishism” that encourages many motorists to become real consumers / ambassadors for their favorite manufacturer, and pushes them to buy accessories and derivative products as long as they show the brand logo, for the simple pleasure of feeling like belonging to a Community .

This enthusiasm among car manufacturers in the transition to soft mobility electromobility is therefore likely far from being anecdotal and may even in the longer term form a full part of their industrial and commercial strategy, showing a continuity between two modes of transport. often prone to oppose.

It strikes me how most people I know who own an electric car, in my personal or professional relationships, also own an electric bike that they use every day.

A continuity of applications that may soon make us cyclists.

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