While two-wheeled transport remains the primary means of transport for millions of people in China and other parts of Asia Pacific, most consumers in North America and Europe have remained committed to their passenger cars.
Now, however, high gasoline costs, improved customer perception, and government incentives are all contributing to a growing demand for motorcycles and scooters – including those powered by electricity.
Particularly in areas where the population is increasingly moving into cities, where large vehicles are often impractical and expensive to own, operate, and park, density has become a driving force for the e-motorcycle and e-scooter markets. According to a recent report from Pike Research, sales of these vehicles will rise sharply in Europe and North America over the next six years.
In Western Europe, for example, annual sales of e-motorcycles will essentially double each year through 2017, the cleantech intelligence firm says, with some countries, such as Italy and France, seeing compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) of greater than 120%.
The nations of Eastern Europe will see even more explosive growth, with e-motorcycle sales increasing by 138% annually from 2011 through 2017. CAGRs for e-motorcycles in North America will surpass 71%.
By far the largest market for e-motorcycles and e-scooters is China, where Pike Research forecasts that 2.3 million and 13.5 million vehicles, respectively, will be sold by 2017. This growth is driven by the huge existing market for two-wheeled vehicles and by the fact that many e-scooters are sold as bicycles, so they do not have to be registered. China, however, is a relatively mature market; the CAGR for e-motorcycle sales through 2017 will be under 2% and, for e-scooters, under 5%.
The total number of e-motorcycles and e-scooters on the road, worldwide, will increase from 17 million in 2011 to 138 million by 2017.[source: Pike Research]