Italy's electric bike boom
With gas prices near $10 per gallon and some of the most congested cities in Europe, Italy is finding a strong market for electric bikes.
Bikes in general are making a strong comeback in Italy, a country where biking as a form of personal transportation (instead of just recreation) lags behind many other European countries. But this year, for the first time since World War II, the country had more bike sales than car sales. And e-bikes, battery-powered bikes that assist with pedaling, are becoming increasingly popular in Italy, the Wall Street Journal reports:
"Interest has been phenomenal, and potential buyers were lining up to check out the bikes," says Franca Camplone, head of renewable energy company Enel Green Power SpA's retail sales, who expects 50,000 electric bicycles to be sold overall in Italy this year, compared with practically none five years ago. The company began selling the bikes in September and has launched a campaign to promote e-bikes as Christmas gifts.
"We are speechless over the number of people who have showed up at our store buying or inquiring about a bike," said Valerio Verrino, owner of Ecovia, an electric bicycle shop near the Colosseum.
While car sales are down more than 25 percent over the last year in Italy, e-bike sales are expected to grow 10 percent.
Worldwide, e-bikes are the most popular form of electric vehicle. This year alone, 30 million are expected to be sold, with China dominating the market. However, Pike Research predicts e-bike sales in countries outside China -- as we're seeing with Italy -- to grow steadily in the coming years.
Electric Bikes Go on a Roll in Rome [Wall Street Journal]
Photo: Flickr/Sally Anderson1