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Popularity of electric bikes on the rise

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Electric bike sales are expected to triple in the United States.

What's the world's best selling electric vehicle?

Trick question. It's a two-wheeled vehicle, the electric bike. In 2012, 30 million units were sold. However, 92 percent of the world's e-bike sales come from China. What's the future of the e-bike in the rest of the world?

According to a new report from Pike Research, the market for electric bikes will increase in the coming years even in places where sales have been minimal. This year in the United States, for example, only about 89,000 e-bikes will be sold. But in the next six years sales are expected to triple, increasing to 265,000 in 2018. Worldwide, sales will reach 47 million by 2018, bringing in $12 billion that year.

“Although the e-bicycle will remain a niche product in the United States, the U.S. market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 20 percent,” said Pike's senior research analyst, Dave Hurst, in a statement. “That means it will continue to trail significant Western European markets, but increases in bicycle infrastructure in growing urban centers and the rise in popularity of alternative means of transport will make e-bikes a viable choice for thousands of new users.”

In the report, one of the major challenges cited for e-bike growth is distribution. Typically, the people who buy e-bikes are not the same customers as traditional bike buyers, so bicycle dealers are hesitant to carry the product.

The costs for the e-bike are definitely higher and they require more maintenance with an electric battery to charge. But it's no surprise that the vehicle is starting to slowly catch on in the U.S. It's a vehicle that can get you around the city quickly and is a cheaper alternative to a car.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure