The worldwide market for electric bicycles will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.5% between 2012 and 2018, resulting in global sales of more than 47 million vehicles in 2018, according to a new report from Pike Research.
With sales expected to reach over 30 million units in 2012, electric bicycles are the world’s best-selling electric vehicles.
Rapidly accelerating urbanization, the increasing need for low-cost transportation in developing markets, and expanding opportunities for new market entrants are all helping to drive e-bicycle sales.
Despite significant business challenges outside the Asia Pacific region, the market for electric bicycles is expected to grow strongly over the next several years.
China is anticipated to account for 42 million of these e-bicycles that year, giving it 89% of the total world market. The e-bicycle market is anticipated to generate $6.9 billion in worldwide revenue in 2012, growing to $11.9 billion in 2018.
Under a more aggressive forecast scenario, worldwide e-bicycle sales could reach 51 million units and $13.2 billion revenue in 2018, the cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts.
“E-bicycle manufacturers and importers in North America and Latin America continue to struggle with a weak distribution network and modest demand,” says senior analyst Dave Hurst. “As a result, the e-bicycle market is experiencing an accelerated rate of acquisitions and business failures. Nevertheless, sales are expected to grow rapidly, with a CAGR of nearly 22% in North America from 2012 to 2018.”
The vast majority of the e-bicycles sold in China, the world’s largest market, utilize sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries. While this has resulted in extremely low-cost e-bicycles in China, it has also led to a number of challenges including e-bicycle traffic congestion, lead contamination, and manufacturers effectively ignoring laws relating to e-bicycles speed and weight limits.
Pike Research anticipates that the global penetration of lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries will grow from 6% in 2012 to 12% in 2018. Cost pressures from Asia Pacific will keep manufacturers interested in SLA batteries through this decade, but once manufacturing efficiencies have driven down the costs of Li-ion, we will start to see the decline of SLA as the battery of choice in e-bicycles.