Future cities are in constant motion and evolving at hyper change towards becoming fully connected smart cities. This growth comes with many positives and challenges. One of which will be major traffic congestion, dense living and a demand for a more localised lifestyle. Enter e-Bikes or more commonly known as Smart Bikes, they are the two-wheeler for the smartphone generation. Fully charged and fully connected. Smart bikes are a combination of battery powered electric motors and pedals which make cycling absolutely effortless. And most now come with smart-phone docks that allow a user to access platforms such as Strava.
In this article we focus on the impact e-Bikes will have the automotive world. Already, we are seeing major auto manufacturers such as Audi, Peugeot, Mercedes Benz, VW and Ford jump onto this trend. Whilst there has been major skepticism for their reason to create e-Bikes, it is obvious that these companies are looking to diversify towards our changing urban environments.
The smart generation-care less about owning cars and houses but prefer to ride bikes. A decline in automotive sales and an increase in bike sales across the globe have forced the automotive industry to look into expanding into new markets. The e-Bike market out sold the eAuto market in recent years, about 40 million compared to a staggering 112,000. There are currently more electric bikes than electric cars on the road today. Globally, China has the biggest eBike market with approximately 36 million, followed by Europe with over 2 million, Japan at 550,000 and the U.S with an estimated 220,000.
In the case of McDonalds, when they were blamed for contributing to obesity auto a decade ago, it forced them to search for a solution to this problem. As a consequence it opened up a whole new category for their business to expand into. Now, they still sell burgers but offer a wider menu option. So what does this mean for auto manufacturers? Its quite simple, diversification equals survival. And by expanding their model ranges to include eBikes, they automatically increase their reach to a new type of customer and tap into the next generation of customer.
A modern example of this is the Smart For-Us created by Mercedes Benz. The Smart For-Us combines the design and practicality of a sustainable, compact vehicle which carries 2 smart bikes at its rear. Geared up to traveling longer distances than that of eBikes but still allowing people to explore a greater range of locations by bike. This solution taps into a few different markets instantly, designers who like the look of the vehicle, cyclists and the smart generation.
- Governments and local councils need to start investing in transport infrastructure that caters for the growth in bicycle as a primary source of transport
- Storage facilities need to be put into place across cities
- Should governments look at creating lanes on freeways or above freeways for the growth of cycles
- Offices and employers need to incorporate charging stations and areas for storing the bikes while employees are at work
- Autonomous e-bikes will see a new wave of sharing within the smart city environment