This is a guest post from Ed Benjamin, Senior Managing Director of eCE and LEVA Chairman.
The electric bike industry enjoyed a successful year in 2013. Here is recap of what happened in some of the most important markets.
Electric bikes sales in China grew, but slowly. There is now an estimated 170 million electric bikes in use in China and the replacement of aging electric bikes is around 25 million units a year.
This is in addition to the replacement of lead acid batteries in the fleet that is a stunning 300 million sets of 12V SVRLAs per year. Today, almost all lead acid batteries are recycled and are made in safer factories due to crackdowns from the Chinese Government.
Europeans showed how much they love electric bikes in 2013. The German market is now bigger than the Dutch market, electric bikes are selling well in nearly every EU member state with great, but not grand sales coming from France, the UK, Switzerland, Spain and Austria.
According to our records there are 264 brands of electric bikes offered in the EU at this time. In addition, Bosch has made an impressive successful move into the EU market and is the most popular and demanded drive system supplier.
Although still small, the USA electric bike market doubled from 2012 to 2013 and is now about as big as Holland’s market. Over the last two years many new importers and product developers entered the US market but the top three electric bike brands in the USA remain to be Currie Tech, ProdecoTech and Pedego.
Italian company eSocialbike created an app and electric bike management system that connects electric bike users, retailers and manufacturers. It gives manufacturers the ability to collect useful data about users and is also used as a social and diagnostic app.
The motor industry has matured beyond the quest for the cheapest possible motor. A number of high-tech, performance motors are now offered by makers from around the world.
One company with a long history in our industry is Heinzmann, they have introduced a new motor of great promise.
Shimano also developed a new drive system called STEPS and ASI (Accelerated Systems Inc.) has become a leading advanced controller developer.
Lithium batteries from China are getting more popular.
Lishen Battery Company is a world-class supplier to most of the major smart phone makers, is the fourth largest battery maker in the world, a supplier of most lithium metallurgies in most form factors and they are now expanding into LEV applications.