E-bikes, not electric cars, may hold the key to greener transportation

By CBC News, January 10, 2020

Gregor Macdonald, a Portland, Ore.-based journalist and author of the ebook Oil Fall, has been chronicling the way electric cars have been disrupting the petroleum industry, which of course relies heavily on people driving gasoline-powered vehicles.

But Macdonald admits he slept on a development that might have an equally significant effect on oil demand and, consequently, carbon emissions.

"I consider myself to be someone who's very on top of these trends, and I have nearly missed the e-bike explosion because it's happening so fast," said Macdonald. "It's blown up in the last 12 to 18 months."

Suffice to say Macdonald is now up to speed on the e-bike surge. These devices — which still have pedals, but also contain a rechargeable battery and can hit speeds of 25 km/h — have seen tremendous growth in recent years. In a report released in December, market research firm Deloitte said it expected global sales of 130 million e-bikes between now and 2023.

That outlook is a lot more bullish than the one for electric cars. For example, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, whose projections are generally seen as more optimistic than those of other research firms, sees the number of electric cars worldwide hitting the 130 million mark closer to 2030.

Electric cars have long been viewed as the most effective way to decarbonize the transportation sector, but Macdonald believes people are waking up to the benefits of a smaller, stealthier ride. For one thing, they're cheaper: Whereas the lowest-priced electric car is about $30,000, a new e-bike is in the $1,000-$5,000 range.


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