What began in 2008 continued in 2009: Exotic two-wheelers became an everyday sight as pedelecs and e-bikes became ever more respected in Europe––by the media, trade and consumers. The latter group seems to be ready to switch to the new means of transport, which gives hope in times of climate crisis. The activities of ExtraEnergy also took on a new dimension in 2009.
A year has passed in which electric bikes have turned from a curiosity into a well-respected product. At least, that was the impression created by the media in Europe. In Germany, where the market is taking off now and occupies the second place in terms of growth after the Netherlands, well-known newspapers, TV and radio stations and websites reported on pedelecs and/or e-bikes almost on a weekly basis.
2008 was the year in which the German media started to pay attention to electric two-wheelers and reported on them regularly and positively. In 2009 this trend became even more pronounced. A couple of years ago, the industry could only dream about such publicity.
The increased popularity of light electric vehicles was not only noticeable in the public sphere, it was also reflected in sales figures in Europe. ExtraEnergy estimates sales to have grown by 40 percent in Europe's leading market - the Netherlands - in 2009. In Germany sales rose by 30 percent from 2008 to 2009. In the first six months of 2009, Bovag (Dutch Association of Enterprises concerned with Mobility) measured growth in the Netherlands at 41 percent.
At the start of the year, Frank Jamerson and Ed Benjamin, editors of the Electric Bikes Worldwide Reports, predicted 725,000 electric bikes would be sold in Europe in 2009. Looking back, ExtraEnergy now judges their forecast to have been spot-on.
The Trade benefits
The general attitude of the bicycle trade towards electric bikes changed fundamentally. While many dealers avoided these products in the past, because they were "complicated and often caused problems", dealers now benefitted from additional turnover. Today, a growing number of committed dealers in Germany and other European countries sell a wide variety of brands and provide customers with good advice.
Hope in Times of Climate Crisis
The growing acceptance of the new bicycle species reflects the change going on in people's minds. This change revealed itself in a recent opinion poll by the German news magazine "Stern Online", when 76 percent of 1,496 participants said they regarded the electric bike as a serious alternative to a car. Only 4 percent said an electric bike (or cycling at all) was not their thing.
In the political environment the question whether electric bikes can really reduce, or replace cars, or car trips, was often discussed. The survey confirmed there was such a potential for substitution. The lacking political leadership on climate issues shifted the responsibility to act to local governments, NGOs and to everyone else. Therefore it was even more encouraging to note that people are ready to change to new, CO2 saving vehicles.
ExtraEnergy Taking Lead
Over many years ExtraEnergy worked hard for the continuous growth of the LEV market. For the non-profit organization 2009 was a very busy year, during which all available resources were dedicated to a very large number of very versatile projects. New partnerships were concluded and long-term commitments made with the Munich Fair Company and the Degen Mediahouse Publisher, as well as the testing partners SLG and velotech.de. Partnerships were also concluded with the participants of the GoPedelec! project, which is supported by the EU.
The supporting pillars of the organization - testing, trade show presentations and publications - reached new dimensions in 2009. For the first time, ExtraEnergy conducted two tests in one year with a total of 60 pedelecs and e-bikes. With new high-tech measuring equipment the test and its results climbed to new levels of quality and trustworthiness.
At Eurobike the entire open ground at the East entrance was dedicated to electric bikes and filled with the ExtraEnergy test track. A highlight of the huge test course was the 48 brand-new check-in booths for the participating manufacturers. At the premiere of BIKE EXPO in Munich, ExtraEnergy started a new cooperation. From 2010, ExtraEnergy will be official partner of BIKE EXPO and be responsible for the electric bike section of the new bicycle trade show.
In terms of publications, time-consuming preparations got underway in 2009 which will come to fruition in 2010: an entirely new website and a print magazine with three issues per year and two special editions in English.
The BATSO project took a big step in the direction of safe lithium batteries in cooperation with TÜV, when a new test laboratory was opened in Shenzhen, China for battery safety testing. At the same time, ExtraEnergy's support of the EnergyBus standard was running at full power. First samples of the universal connector family for batteries, chargers and other electric LEV components were presented at Eurobike.
Alongside all these projects - and the LEV Conference in Taipei and TEST IT Track at many events - ExtraEnergy successfully defended its position in two court cases and invested immense amounts in new testing technology and its new trade show performance.
In addition, ExtraEnergy visualized the step into a new age of mobility with a new logo. In order to be able to grow with the market and face the new challenges, ExtraEnergy extended not only its testing capacities, but also its team.
To read what ExtraEnergy has up its sleeve for 2010, click here.
Copy: Susanne Bruesch and Hannes Neupert
9 January 2009