Sales of electric bikes were already booming in Australia. Then Covid hit.
According to Bicycle Industries Australia general manager Peter Bourke, ebike sales have ballooned from around 9000 in 2017 to an estimated 50,000 this year so far.
“Those numbers are going up dramatically,” he told The Fifth Estate.
Now that regulation is up to the EU standard and consistent across the country, the only thing stopping ebike take up is supply. Bourke say most stores and suppliers have massive waiting lists.
The pandemic has helped spur interest as people look for a safe way to commute that avoids public transport. Normal bikes have also seen a jump in popularity since Covid, with many suppliers running out of stock completely.
But Bourke says that before Covid, push bike sales had stagnated. Ebikes, on the other hand, were flying off the racks even before the pandemic hit.
“Half of all bikes sold are ebikes now, and we know they are growing and will keep growing.”
While ebike use in Australia is typically “sports orientated”, with people enjoying the help up hills to go mountain biking or the ability to keep up with a fitter partner on a leisurely weekend ride, Bourke expects more people to use ebikes for a sweat-free commute once more people return to the office post-pandemic.
He’s not sure Australia will ever quite reach the 50 per cent bike commuters split seen in The Netherlands but says that a few more regulatory changes could help grow these numbers.
One is increasing the speed restrictions from 25kmh to 32kmh, which helps capture a bigger commuter market as more people can make it to make it to work in under half an hour if they can go faster.
Bourke also says ebike sales are only one part of the equation, with lease and share models becoming more popular.
He says that while the shared bike scheme have hit a few roadblocks, there’s still potential for these schemes in Australian cities, with the electric versions solving the common issue of bikes ending up at the bottom of hills in cities that aren’t flat.
A model that seeing even more promise is longer term rentals, especially for delivery drivers. Sydney based startup Zoomo, which recently received financing from the CEFC, leases ebikes exclusively to delivery drivers.