To be convincing, new technologies need to be experienced. For electric vehicles, experience has shown that the test ride is the argument with the greatest persuasive power.
After just a few circuits of the test track, even skeptics become grinning electric bike riders. Furthermore, the new fans often include people who hadn’t ridden a bicycle previously for many years.
The experiences of ExtraEnergy, garnered since 1997 on Test IT Tracks worldwide, coincide with the results of other studies. Han Goes from Q Square Consultants has confirmed its persuasive power in a survey which questioned test riders before and after their test rides. 50 % of all of those asked, after a test ride and a brief presentation, could envisage themselves buying a pedelec. Larry Pizzi, chief executive of Currie Technologies in the USA, has also confirmed this value from his sales figures. He says that the chance of a sale rises by 50 % if the customer has first had a go on the bike.
The report “Electric two wheelers – effects on mobility behaviour” from Switzerland opines that the potential of pedelecs as a new means of transport be achieved in a different way. The authors recommend that Light Electric Vehicle (LEV) promotion should focus on heavily motorised households, because LEVs are particularly good at replacing the (short) urban car journeys typical for this group. So it’s no longer ‘just’ cyclists who should be addressed; the electric bike should also be portrayed as a car alternative.
Electric mobility is in and green
The pedelec trend has already been bolstered by the increased costs of car driving and a growing environmental awareness, expressed in changing mobility habits. A Eurobarometer survey of European transport legislation from 2007 showed that 56 % of EU citizens are trying to save petrol by walking or cycling more. An increased shift from cars to pedelecs and e-bikes would significantly reduce transport-related CO2 emissions, of which 50% in the EU are caused by personal car transport.
Pedelecs have especially promising potential to shift people from cars to bikes because they eliminate ‘peaks’ such as hills, headwinds or simply the effort of cycling. Car drivers also experience a hitherto-unknown sense of fun with this new way of getting around, if they are only given the opportunity.
The Test IT Show
Test IT Tracks are test tracks which are installed at trade shows and other events, and where pedelecs and e-bikes of all sorts can be test ridden. The construction includes curves, straights and an almost 20 m long ramp with 10% gradient. So the benefits of the new vehicles, for example assistance on hills, can be experienced.
While previously these Test IT Tracks were implemented individually, in 2011 ExtraEnergy marshalled its forces and set up the Test IT Show. Now three mobile test tracks are travelling throughout Europe with strong partners on board: eight manufacturers are making their products available to the European public. The Test IT Show is part of the Go Pedelec! EU Project. Alongside the European events, the Test IT Show includes trade shows, festivals and more. This all reinforces a shift in focus for pedelecs and e-bikes from a purely cycling public audience towards the wider population, including those not interested in cycling.
So it’s not just for cycling or tourism trade shows: cities, towns and regions, shopping centres, companies or even private individuals could all become Test IT Show venues. All you need is some space; the rest, including ramps, vehicles and advice is all brought along by ExtraEnergy and its partners.
You can find details of future events at:
Copy: Nora Manthey, prepared within the EU GoPedelec! project: GoPedelec! Handbook (German version)
Picture: ExtraEnergy e.V.
>> Go Pedelec! Handbook in Czech, Dutch, English, Hungarian, and Italian
Translation: Peter Eland (www.electricbikemag.co.uk)
Online release: Angela Budde
10 January 2013