Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD
When we think of electric vehicles, we normally imagine vehicles like Teslas, Nissan Leafs and other similar cars. These are the vehicles that dominate the headlines, as well as the bulk of the conversation on electrification. However, there are other types of vehicles, and they appear to be doing just as well with consumers. Go to any major European city and odds are you’ll see thousands of cheap stand-up scooters rented out by the municipality for residents to hire for short trips. There are also more and more larger electric scooters and motorcycles. These might be not as obvious on the street as they tend to look like their internal combustion engine counterparts.
My first thought was, aren’t electric motorcycles diametrically opposed to everything bikers liked about motorcycles? However, on second thoughts, most motorcycles are owned by normal people looking to make short and easy trips to work or on an errand as opposed to motorbike gangs. I used to own a motorcycle for just those types of trips myself when I was in my last job. I lived seven miles from my office and the traffic was a nightmare. Using a motorcycle cut the travel time in half on a normal day. Often it could take my colleagues an hour to travel the same seven miles in cars that I could do in 20 minutes. Would I have considered an electric motorcycle? I think I would, the lower cost of running would probably have tempted me.
The delivery business has also got a boost throughout the COVID crisis. You can often see a line of scooters outside places like Domino's for deliveries. Changing over to electric could provide quite a long term saving for business owners, and the multiple short trips would be ideal for electric powered scooters. Higher performance electric powered motorcycles with engines over 40kWp are also available for longer journeys or for when driving on faster roads. Both these types of motorcycle are starting to prove popular with owners, despite being more expensive to buy. According to the latest research from IDTechEx "Electric Two-wheelers 2021-2041", sales of electric motorbikes and scooters are keeping pace with the growth in electric vehicle sales, and are expected to faster. The analyst predicts at least 50% year-on-year in 2020.
At the moment, prices for these vehicles is pretty high. The report claims that is because that vast majority of the parts have to be designed in-house to achieve the power required in such a small space, while having to accommodate the battery. They have specialised battery packs, instead of off-the-shelf ones, also because of the size. With new entrants entering the market all the time, and the market growing bigger, bringing economies of scale, the price of these vehicles will eventually fall to more reasonable levels, hopefully bringing them to a far wider potential buyer base.