Are Electric Bicycles About to Invade America?
> There are tens of millions of battery-assisted bikes on the road in China, but they barely exist here. What will it take to get people out of cars and onto these bikes that you don’t even have to really pedal so hard?
China, long defined by scenes of its masses commuting to (grim, state-owned) factories on (grim, stated-designed) bicycles, has wildly embraced the car. The Chinese automobile market will be larger than the U.S., Japan, and Germany combined by 2015, estimates Bloomberg, accounting for more than 25 million cars each year.
Yet the bicycle is making a massive comeback in the country--the electric bike, that is. Electric bike sales in China now eclipse sales of any other form of transportation. As recently as the 1990s, only about 150,000 e-bikes were sold in China. Last year, annual sales hit 25 million (92% of the global market). At least 120 million e-bikes are already on Chinese roads, and sales are only growing thanks to a combination of falling prices, improving technology (companies have to invest heavily in R&D to differentiate themselves since IP is so easily pirated), clusters of bicycle factories, and strong market demand.
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