Halfords has called on the Government to introduce financial incentives to make it more affordable to commute by e-bike. The retailer wants to see the introduction of car scrappage grants similar to those on offer in France in addition to the subsidies that had been expected this spring.
Last November, we reported how e-bike prices could be cut by 30% through the extension of a government subsidy already on offer to buyers of other electric vehicles.
Grants are already available for plug-in cars, motorbikes, vans, taxis and trucks, but not currently for e-bikes.
Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said the government was, “developing a national programme of support to boost e-bike uptake to the levels seen in many other countries,” and suggested details would be announced in the spring.
There has since been talk of subsidising holiday rentals in a bid to build awareness and drive enthusiasm for the technology, but none of these things has yet materialised.
In France, people can get a €2,500 e-bike subsidy if they trade-in an old car. Halfords believes this is another measure that could be introduced in the UK, along with greater incentives for cycling for business travel. Employees who drive their own car for work purposes can currently claim 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles, and 25p thereafter, whereas the rate for cycling is just 20p.
Pointing to its own research that indicates six in ten UK workers are not able to work flexibly, the retailer said a package of measures designed to drive e-bike uptake could help would-be cycle commuters put off by steep hills or long distances.
“E-bikes can fill a huge hole in our national commuting strategy,” said Paul Tomlinson, Halfords Cycling Director. “We’ve seen demand for e-bikes grow 76% in the past year, but we’re still behind other countries where e-bikes are already making a major contribution to commuting.”
E-bike sales now represent 17% of all bicycles sales in the EU and motor manufacturer Bosch recently predicted that would rise to 50% within the next few years.
In contrast, e-bikes account for just 5% of UK sales.
Victoria Pendleton, whose Pendleton Somerby Hybrid Electric bikes are available from Halfords, said: “Cycling has seen a massive renaissance over the past 18 months but for people who are less confident or face a tougher commute, an e-bike really is the perfect solution, especially with people reluctant to use public transport now. I truly believe e-bikes will be a massive part of commuting for the future.”
Halfords is now offering free e-bike trials in all of its stores.
“I’d encourage anyone to try an e-bike so they can appreciate the benefits of using one for recreation and commuting,” said Pendleton.