In growing cities, electric motorcycles, scooters to bridge gap

Electric cars may get all the press, but electric motorcycles and scooters are also seeing increased interest around the world. Are they the solution to the world's future megacities?

The urban transportation landscape continues to transform.

In growing, transit-challenged cities, electric motorcycles and scooters will bridge the gap between rapidly increasing density and inadequate transit infrastructure, according to a new report.

Findings from Pike Research indicate that while electric cars get all the press, electric motorcycles and scooters are also seeing increased interest as electric powertrains become more widely available.

Specifically, Pike predicts "solid growth" in both mature and emerging markets:

  • North America will grow to 41,146 in annual sales of e-motorcycles by 2017. E-scooters: 27,971.
  • Western Europe will grow to 109,945 annual sales of e-motorcycles by 2017. E-scooters: 91,625.
  • Asia Pacific will grow to 2.7 million in annual sales of e-motorcycles by 2017. E-scooters: 19.6 million.

China is the largest market, with a forecast of 2.26 million e-motorcycles and 13.53 million e-scooters by 2017. (Interestingly, China bans traditional motorcycles, but e-cycles skirt regulations.)

Analyst Dave Hurst writes:

In regions where the population is increasingly moving into cities, the density becomes a challenge for the transportation system and has become one of the driving forces of the e-motorcycle and e-scooter markets.

Often, as these urban areas grow, people find that e-motorcycles and e-scooters provide an economical and efficient tool for transportation. This is particularly true in areas with heavy traffic congestion and ineffective public transportation.

While that won't hit home for most SmartPlanet readers in sprawling North America (where the car rules), it makes much more sense for emerging population centers -- which is exactly where most of the additional 3 billion people in the world by 2054, according to United Nations estimates, will live.

These emerging regions are seeing the fastest growing urbanization in the world -- and incidentally, are areas where two-wheeled vehicles are favored for transportation.

Don't expect to see everyone give up their cars, of course. But electric bikes could make sense where cars often don't -- such as for parcel deliveries, police in city centers, and short work commutes.

Of course, there's always the option of using a conventional bicycle. But in 90 degree heat, we can certainly see why you wouldn't want to power your way to work.

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