While you may expect a retailer that sells bikes to be optimistic, the latest forecasting from Halfords suggests that UK e-bike sales, if they continue on their current trajectory, could jump from around 50,000 in 2019 to a whopping 1.5 million by 2050. That's an increase of almost 40,000%.
They predict over the next thirty years that a desire for more eco-friendly transport, an interest in health and wellbeing and vast improvements in e-bike technology will lead to a greater proportion of people seeing them as viable transport alternatives to cars. Halfords' report says: "With vast improvements to e-bikes expected, as well as sweeping changes to the environment they are ridden in, there’s a real chance e-bikes will become a serious competitor to cars and buses. Cheaper, cleaner and with the added edge of offering assisted exercise, it’s easy to see why e-bikes could become the UK’s preferred method of transport."
While the e-bike being the UK's "preferred method of transport" seems a world away now, the forecast looks to the Netherlands which already saw sales of 400,000 e-bikes in 2018; 68% of the total €1.2 billion spent on bikes in the country that year.
Halfords used data from online transactions and Google trends, as well as predictions from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) to create their forecast, showing growth every ten years from now until 2050. Current SMMT data shows a decrease in new car registrations, which points to a phasing out of fossil fuel vehicles and a further reason why e-bike uptake should be on the rise. They've also shown the top 10 places that will see e-bike growth.
As you can see above, they predict that by 2030 that number of e-bikes sold in ten major cities will surpass the 8,000 mark, with new petrol car sales set to be banned by the end of the 2020's. Craig Bennett from Friends of the Earth says: "Electric bicycles can potentially play a big role in cleaning up our transport by removing dirty vehicles from our roads and getting people onto two wheels. People who may have previously been unable to travel by bicycle could have an entire new, cleaner way of getting around."
By 2050, the ten major cities are predicted to account for around 650,000 of the 1.5 million e-bikes we'll by that year. Halfords predict: "With fossil-fuel modes of transport well outdated and our infrastructure looking a lot different by 2050, e-bikes are expected to not just be a popular alternative to cars, but a viable replacement for them. As battery technology improves to the point where a charge is only needed once a week or less, and manufacturing costs fall thanks to automation, e-bikes may become just as prevalent as pedal-powered bikes – with an estimated 1.5 million sold within these selected cities in that year."
What do you think, is this pie in the sky stuff or likely to actually materialise? Let us know in the comments!