Navigant Research Blog

Electric Mobility Devices Make a Splash at CES

— January 26, 2016

Car driving fastThe International CES, the global consumer electronics show held every January in Las Vegas, exhibits the latest technologies and trends in the electronics industry. This year, electric mobility devices formed one of the major trend lines of the conference, as cities are increasingly looking for new ways to reduce traffic congestion while consumers are simultaneously considering innovative options for cutting down on their commute times.

At CES, Oregon-based Arcimoto introduced its new all-electric 3-wheeled motorcycle, with a top speed of 80 mph and up to a 130-mile range. Currently, 3-wheeled vehicles are often used to reduce air pollution and congestion in cities while hauling cargo for deliveries. Rapidly evolving 3D printing technology is now being combined with electric motorcycle manufacturing, as Energica demonstrated with its debut of a 3D-printed e-motorcycle called the Ego. The streetbike has tremendous acceleration, able to go from 0 to 100 km/h (or 0 to 60 mph) in less than 3 seconds. The Ego’s top speed is 150 mph, and an 80% battery charge can be achieved in just 30 minutes. Electric bicycles (E-bikes) were trending at CES, and exciting new advances in hover boards, electric roller-skates, and electric skateboards were also on display.

Perhaps most notably, e-scooter company Gogoro unveiled its home-charging solution for customers who wish to forgo the company’s citywide battery swapping networks and charge their batteries at home. This product fills what perhaps was the last remaining hole for Gogoro, which now looks primed to expand its battery swapping network from Taipei to large European cities, beginning with Amsterdam in mid-2016. The company’s Go Charger holds two batteries and plugs into a 110V outlet. Two versions of the charger will be offered, with one version charging the batteries in 2.5 hours and the other taking 5 hours for a full recharge.

Cheapest, Quickest Way to Adopt Electric Transport

All signs are pointing toward the electric mobility device industry continuing to expand in 2016, as these vehicles are often significantly more affordable than full-sized electric vehicles. In fact, sales of e-bikes, e-scooters, and e-motorcycles are each expected to individually outpace the sales of electric cars this year, in some cases by a wide margin.

Electric Vehicle Global Sales Estimations: 2016

Ryan Blog Table

(Source: Navigant Research)


E-Bikes Pave the Way for German Bicycle Highways

— January 5, 2016

Tightrope_webGermany recently opened its first 5 km (3 mile) bicycle highway, with plans set to expand the highway to over 100 km (62 miles) of track. Bicycle-only highways are more expansive and favorable to cyclists than simple bike paths; the highways are 4 meters (13 feet) wide, have several bike lanes, and are well lit and cleared of snow in the winter. Gone are the days of bicyclists dealing with irregular speed bumps, cars driving into bike lanes, and the startling situation of a bike lane merging with a bus lane.

Safer and Better for the Environment

In addition to serving as a much safer way for cyclists to commute, the German regional development group RVR estimates that the new bicycle tracks will remove 50,000 cars from the road every day—drastically reducing traffic jams and urban air pollution. Overall, the bicycle highway will connect 10 cities and four universities, running largely along unused railroad tracks. Nearly two million people live within a mile of the bicycle highway and will be able to use it for their daily commutes.

E-Bikes are Key to the Infrastructure Expansion

While Germany undoubtedly has a rich history of traditional bicycling, it is also the largest electric bicycle (e-bike) market in Europe, with 480,000 e-bikes sold in 2014 according to the trade association BOVAG. Sales of e-bikes are growing steadily, accounting for roughly 12% of all bicycle sales in Germany—with the e-bike market achieving 17% year-over-year growth in 2014 compared to 2013.

E-bikes help commuters travel longer distances and easily conquer hilly terrain; advantages that are helping more and more German commuters make the switch from cars to cycling. The high adoption rate of e-bikes in the country is contributing to the need for all cyclists to have more safe and private roadways for commuting. As most cities around the world search for ways to reduce the number of cars on the road, they can look to Germany for some basic best practices. Bicycle highways both incentivize and create the necessary infrastructure in order for bicycles and e-bikes to play a major role in urban mobility. Keep an eye out for the upcoming update to Navigant Research’s Electric Bicycles report for more on this topic.


Renewed U.S. Tax Credit Gives E-Motorcycle Market a Boost

— December 29, 2015

An important federal tax credit for electric motorcycles (e-motorcycles) expired at the end of 2013, but has just been reinstated as part of the enormous $1.1 trillion spending package approved by Congress in December 2015. The federal tax credit will offset 10% of the purchase price for qualifying plug-in two- and three-wheel vehicles (must have a top speed of at least 45 mph and a 4 kWh battery or larger). The maximum credit available to consumers will be $2,500 and the credit will apply retroactively to all e-motorcycle purchases since January 1, 2015.

This effort, reportedly spearheaded by California-based manufacturer Zero Motorcycles and non-profit Plug In America, will likely serve as a sales boost for the e-motorcycle industry in the United States. However, e-scooters and e-bikes do not receive the same tax advantages since these technologies generally have a top speed limit of 30 mph and 20 mph, respectively. So why are lower speed electric vehicles (EVs) left out of the incentive regime?

Highway-Capable and Gas-Powered Vehicle Replacement

Part of the reason is likely due to the fact that only on-road or highway-capable vehicles are considered to be worthy of tax credits, based on the larger volume of emissions being avoided from these vehicles. Another explanation specific to e-bikes may be that the technology is seen as replacing bicycles (already a clean technology), not cars. However, this assumption may not be entirely accurate.

A consumer survey conducted by the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC) demonstrates that the primary reason respondents bought e-bikes was to replace some car trips (see Figure 1 below). Additionally, the main reason cited by respondents for using an e-bike was to commute to work or school (see Figure 2). The survey from OTREC suggests that e-bikes are used for commuting and to replace car trips much more than lawmakers think or even recognize. Speaking from personal experience, my e-bike replaced both my traditional bicycle and my gasoline-powered car—with the primary purpose of using the e-bike as a commuting vehicle.

While the tax credits are welcome news for the e-motorcycle industry, e-scooters and e-bikes continue to be under-incentivized and under-utilized technologies in the United States. If the primary goal of tax credits for all EVs is to replace or reduce the number of gas-powered vehicle trips, then e-scooters and e-bikes should be considered in the future.

Figure 1: OTREC Survey Respondents’ Primary Reason for Purchasing an E-Bike

Ryan Blog Fig 1

(Source: Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium)

Figure 2: OTREC Survey Respondents’ Main Purpose for E-Bike Trips

Ryan Blog Fig 2

(Source: Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium)


New Business Models and OEM Products Grow the Electric Power Two-Wheeler Market

— November 30, 2015

The electric power two-wheel vehicle (e-PTW) industry is expected to achieve stable and continuous growth during the coming years as new business models and several large OEMs permeate the market. According to Navigant Research, global annual sales of electric motorcycles (e-motorcycles) are expected to grow from 1.2 million vehicles in 2015 to 1.5 million in 2024, while sales of electric scooters (e-scooters) are expected to grow from 4.1 million to over 4.4 million.

Gogoro Brings Battery Swapping to Europe

In the e-scooter market, battery swapping startup Gogoro is transforming urban mobility by offering its e-scooter customers a battery swapping network, removing the range anxiety common to most types of electric vehicles (EVs). Gogoro has sold over 2,000 of its e-scooters over the past few months in Taiwan (using an infrastructure base of 90 GoStation battery swap stations), and the company has raised an additional $130 million in Series B funding from Panasonic (its battery supplier) and the National Development Fund of Taiwan.

Forbes reported that Gogoro will be expanding its program (which is currently only in Taipei, Taiwan) to Amsterdam in early 2016. As a city with narrow streets, a general lack of available parking, and a government looking for ways to reduce the number of four-wheel vehicles on the road, Amsterdam is a great fit for the electrification of two-wheelers. Aligning with Amsterdam’s smart city initiatives, Gogoro is aiming to become more of an energy company rather than solely an e-scooter manufacturer. The company’s GoStations are cloud-connected and are expected to coordinate with electricity grid demand in Amsterdam, charging batteries only at times when energy demand is low.

Gogoro is becoming a disruptive force in the industry, and the company has now raised over $180 million since being founded back in 2011. If the company’s business model can prove successful in Amsterdam, there’s no limit on the number of large European cities that could benefit from congestion-reducing e-PTWs.

OEMs Show New e-PTW models

Large OEMs are unveiling new e-PTW products that will serve an important role by increasing product availability in key markets. The sleeping giant in the industry, Honda Motors, plans to launch an electric scooter in 2017. This will be the first time Honda will sell an e-scooter to consumers, as its previous EV-neo e-scooter was a short-term project (2010-2013) that focused on leasing e-PTWs to fleets. Sales are expected to be concentrated in Japan, China, and other Asian countries where population density is creating congestion and air pollution problems. Meanwhile, BMW Motorrad unveiled a new e-motorcycle concept called the eRR. This high-performance motorbike is a further expansion into e-PTWs since BMW first released the C Evolution Maxi-Scooter back in 2014.


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