31 January 2023

The current landscape

The electric vehicle industry is growing every year and significantly, the automotive sector announced that the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars will be banned by 2030 in the UK. This phenomenon has also introduced itself in urban mobility. Mintel reported that in 2020 eBike purchases made up 22% of overall UK bike sales. But what are the pull factors for consumers and businesses to purchase eBikes, and what R&D is fuelling these modern-day city shrinkers?

The bike industry has shifted in recent years to adopt new technologies including hardware such as batteries or software like GPS tracking.

The Tech behind them

What are the hardware and software developments that eBike manufacturers are investing in? Focusing on Vanmoof, their S5 model is comprised of automated anti-theft tech, electric gear shifters, built-in light units, and integrates with the Vanmoof mobile app for GPS mapping, all powered by its built-in battery unit.

So, what can we take away from this?

The R&D scope for manufacturers means the advances in bicycle technology are not limited to improved mechanics, but software development and integration. Research into reduced battery charging times is making progress as some suppliers are testing lithium-titanate batteries as an alternative to ‘traditional’ lithium-ion, which if successful could offer charging times as short as 20 minutes (battery size dependent).

Personal uses

One of the largest barriers in the way of getting consumers over the purchase line is simply the high costs of eBikes which can range from £2,000-£3,000. Government initiatives such as the ‘Cycle to work scheme’ offer support, but a substantial cost remains for an urban vehicle.

However, a consistent trend in technology is the decrease in cost improves accessibility. It could be argued that the price of eBikes will decline over the next two years as the tech behind them becomes readily available and allows for more cost-efficient players to enter the market for consumers.

Business uses

The transport industry has also utilised eBikes, companies such as Uber & Lime have implemented electric bikes in various cities across the UK and Europe. One of the positive benefits of this is the impact on air quality. Imperial London announced recently that air quality in the UK was poor after cold conditions and lack of wind lead to increased toxic air. The accessibility of eBikes around the city meant that the city’s population could avoid using traditional automotives and could utilise the services of Uber & Lime.

Hybrid models

The market has also seen new entries from hybrid eBike models. Swytch Bike is a London-based startup. They are cornering the market of customers with existing manual bikes who do not want to make the change to full electric bikes and instead would prefer to make the ‘swytch’ to a hybrid version. Their tech includes a portable battery that’s USP is its ability to fit into a trouser pocket.

However, newcomers are not the only population in this market. Established brands such as Brompton have invested in the R&D behind hybrid bikes and have produced C & P lines that transform their existing foldable bikes into eBikes.

To Conclude

Traditional eBikes are filled with R&D that will continue to evolve and improve as greater technology scope increases. The current average price point of electric bikes is high, however as the technology scope behind them evolves it could result in a price drop (due to the cost of development decreasing). For example, greater R&D into battery tech funded by Tax Credits or grant schemes could make them cheaper to produce. This can be seen from the £400m grant funding that has been awarded to electric vehicles & battery developers in the UK over the last eight years.

For any companies that are involved in the research and development behind any electric vehicle tech contact us today to find out how we can help finance your innovation funding and bring your product to market quicker

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