Electric Bikes to Grow 10X by 2018 in North America

Navigant Research have released a study summary claiming that the yet juvenile American electric scooter and motorcycle market will not simply take a foot hold, but grow by ten fold in the next five years. Navigant’s principle research analyst Dave Hurst:

“The market for e-motorcycles and e-scooters will grow as manufacturers provide more robust features, including longer range capability, better performance and, in the case of e-motorcycles, higher speeds. The North American market is still very much in its infancy, but the United States will see strong growth, with a compound annual growth rate of greater than 50 percent through 2018.”

At first pass, this summary reads a bit like “if you build it, they will come” but the USA scooter market is a fickle thing — a truth conventional scooter manufacturers have learned the hard way. Additionally, this seems to assume that the technological limitations of range and performance endemic to electric scooters will be offset, not by tech advances, but by people having different expectations for how they’ll use electric bikes. Primarily, Navigant expects people will use electric two-wheelers as supplementary, not primary ways of getting around. The report acknowledges that currently the primary reason Americans purchase two-wheelers is for recreation, yet still expects a significant number of people to change their mind and start using electric scooters or motorcycles for some primarily practical aspect of their transportation. Principally, commuting and errand running.

One part Navigant definitely has right is the attention being paid to electric vehicles by major manufacturers. We’ve reported already on how both BMW and KTM have announced plans to bring electric vehicles to market. Honda has been showing electric concepts for years and likely isn’t far behind on a production offering. Both Brammo and Zero continue to build a customer base with their electric motorcycles, and even Vectrix is teasing a new model better aimed at scooter riding’s sweet spot.

Meanwhile, mainstream buyers are definitely starting to warm up to electric cars. Pioneering electric automaker Tesla is not only outselling luxury car makers like Audi with its Model S, but it’s re-payed its federal loans nearly a decade ahead of schedule. With Chevy Volts and Nissan Leafs an every more common sight, people are definitely warming up to the viability of electric vehicles. Whether or not that comfort and familiarity will really translate to electric motorcycle and scooters sales is another matter. Navigant thinks it’s a key factor. We’ll need only wait a short five years to see if they’re right.

Source: Navigant Research

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  • Bryan Bedell

    On one hand, What’s zero multiplied by ten? (with or without a capital Z)

    4000 sold (and “sold” often means “dumped on dealers” in this context) this year means 40,000 in 2018, which, once you divide it across brands and models, sure doesn’t sound like it’s worth the R&D costs.

    On the other hand, MIC reports about 20,000 scooters sold annually (by Honda/Yamaha/Piaggio), Once you add Genuine/Kymco/etc, that might be double. So their pipe dream is that they might sell more electric 2-wheelers than scooters. So maybe not bad, but it still doesn’t sound very ambitious, as it is, scooters are still a pretty small segment of a not-particularly-lucrative market, and that 40,000 would probably be mostly sales that would have gone to conventional 2-wheelers anyway.

    • I think you’re right on, Bryan. In fact look for an upcoming opinion post where I make a very similar point.

  • RP

    I work at Navigant, so this is exciting to hear! Not sure if it’s the same department that I usually support.

    • Cool. Any insight you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

      • RP

        unfortunately I don’t know which of the energy divisions may have posted it. Also, the feel of it is that the research is within a given set of parameters. So, it depends on what data was collected and what parameters were set up prior to the data being mined.

        • Well if you could put us in touch with anyone there who’d like to talk more about this study, we’d love to have that conversation and share it with our readers.