This year, we’ve seen Tesla go from strength and strength with its electric vehicles’ production, innovations in battery manufacturing, and its ambitious construction with the Giga Factories. Yet, there is one growing market in the electric transport arena that Tesla isn’t showing an active interest in pursuing: e-bikes, electric motorcycles, and electric scooters.
Tesla boss, Elon Musk had said there are no plans in the near future to start actively developing a Tesla bike for this market, which is partly due to his indifference to two-wheeler transport. In his youth, Musk had a serious motorbike accident and he’s avoided bikes ever since. However, Musk has discussed the Tesla Cyberquad ATV (all-terrain vehicle), which is scheduled for production at the end of next year.
At the end of last year, the electric scooter and motorcycle market had reached $30 billion, which includes large motorcycles that you take on the interstates and the smaller stand-up scooters. It is estimated the electric two-wheeler industry will continue to grow to about $40 billion within the next six years.
For any manufacturer starting to diversify or expand its product offering, generating revenue is the biggest aspect coupled with the challenges of creating something that will be accepted by consumers because it is such a new space.
Although electric two wheelers are still quite pricey, their popularity is increasing with bigger awareness over carbon emissions, and air pollution, and as an efficient mode of transport in cities with high traffic congestion. This opens the playing field in a big way for new and established auto manufacturers. Currently, Yamaha, Honda, and Harley-Davidson are dominating the global motorcycle market, and each of them is moving towards the development of electric transport.
The world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer, Honda is not standing still while electrification transport grows. The company recently filed patents for a Honda electric motorcycle based on its CB125R and CB300R, which will be a smaller and easier to manage general purpose Honda electric bike.
The most notable growth is being seen in the smaller electric motorcycles and scooters that are becoming prevalent in Asia. While China’s EV manufacturer NIO isn’t showing signs of moving into this space, Chinese scooter manufacturer NIU is becoming a promising player with its stock rising due to the sales growth in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Interestingly, NIU offers an app with its electric two wheeler scooters, similar to how the Tesla app integrates with its vehicles and a key feature in Tesla’s business model.
Another trend that will become an advantage for the electric two-wheeler market is that as the world emerges from the COVID pandemic, it is expected that people will look at ways to avoid mass public transit and rather opt for electric scooters.
While this may be true for places like Europe and Asia, the US still tends to favor larger motorbikes and this is where Harley-Davidson, the oldest and oldest US motorcycle manufacturer, can really make its mark. Last year, the motorbike legend launched the Harley Davidson electric motorcycle, the LiveWire. The Harley electric has an impressive design that offers 105 horsepower and an acceleration to 60 miles p/hour in just over 3 seconds. But with a price tag of $30,000, it’s uptake with consumers is slow. There’s some work for Harley-Davidson motorcycles as their sales on the traditional gas bikes is decreasing. However, the motorbike giant is taking steps to bolster their movement into creating a Harley electric bicycle as well.
The e-bike market is another untapped sector for electric two wheelers that is appealing to those who don’t need a driver’s license, for urban commuters as well as recreational cyclists. E-bikes generate power multiplied by the cyclist’s pedaling activity. There are health benefits that will interest several demographics.
Even though Elon Musk is not racing to take a lead in producing a Tesla electric bike, the EV manufacturer could still be in a position to leverage the growth in this industry.
By supplying batteries and its innovative battery technology to other manufacturers.
And as the manufacturing of battery-powered bikes increases, the competition will grow, and it will inevitably produce one or more dominant players in the industry in the years to come.