by Bill Pomakoy
President, Rhoades Car International
Electric Bicycle (aka “e-bike”) sales are growing dramatically worldwide. As a matter of fact, at Rhoades Car in 2011, there was an electric-assist motor on approximately 20% of the 4-wheel quardacycles that left our Hendersonville, TN factory – up from just under 10% in 2010. It shows that many people are not only looking for an alternate means of transportation – but many like an optional boost of power when needed without adding to the carbon footprint issue.
The 1/1/12 issue of Bicycling Retailer has a good article on electric bike sales that is really geared to retailers but the facts are the facts – whether you are a retailer or the end purchaser. Although they don’t state it in the article, it is obvious that the results are based on e-bike sales in the US, not international sales. Some of the findings may surprise you:
- Most purchasers of electric bikes are generally NOT cyclists and most have not ridden a bike in years
- Most purchasers are couples and they typically buy two e-bikes (not always at the same time)
- The average e-bike owner is 59+
- More than half of e-bike sales are to women and they expect a wide range of colors to choose from
- People who purchase e-bikes are very social and tell their friends about their purchase
For me, the most surprising statement in the article was this one — “While buyers might justify their purchase with saving money on gas, getting exercise and being green, the real reason they buy an e-bike is plain and simple: FUN!” Who can argue with that? We’re all looking for ways to have fun, right? More on that later.
The bottom line seems to be that electric bike sales should continue to grow in the US and around the world. In a 2010 published report, PikeResearch concluded that “The worldwide electric two-wheel vehicle market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 9% through 2016″.
To put things in perspective, according to the latest Electric Bikes Worldwide Report, US e-Bike sales were projected to hit 220,000 units in 2009, a two-year sales increase of 83 percent from 2007. In that same time period, 750,000 e-Bike sales were forecasted for Europe- up from 250,000 units in 2007. But guess who leads the pack on e-bike production AND usage? You guessed it – China. The China Bicycle Association reported that China has 70 million electric bikes on the road and 1,400 electric bicycle manufacturers who produce around 5.5 million e-bike units a year.
The unfortunate part of the message once again – just like with regular bicycles – is that the vast majority of e-bikes are NOT produced in the USA. If you read my June blog , you know that I a firm believer that we need to get back to making products right here in the USA – just like we do at Rhoades Car. We’re the exception – and we need to be the rule!
Here’s how we do it at Rhoades Car:
- All Rhoades Car major components, including proprietary steel frames, are made in Tennessee – not in China or Taiwan
- Powder coating is applied in Madison, Tennessee
- Seats are manufactured in Memphis, TN and soon in Augusta, GA
- Mag wheels are manufactured in Redding, CA
- Canopies are handmade by a small upholstery shop in Hendersonville, TN
- Shipping crate material is purchased locally
- Axles, steering columns, tirods and all proprietary machined parts are manufactured by various small companies – ALL located in the United States of America
I promised to get back to the “FUN” comment earlier in the blog. It should come as no surprise that the most popular models at Rhoades Car are our 2-person side-by-side models (GoBoy, SportPed and Cycle Car Series all offer 2-person models. SportPed and CycleCar Series both offer 4-person family models). The reason IS the “FUN” factor just like the Bicycle Retailer article suggests. Our 2-person quadracycles are so much more FUN than riding on separate bikes or even a tandem. Why? Because you can have conversation with your pedal-mate because you’re side-by-side AND you’re getting exercise. How’s that for a win-win? Plus, you can add the electric-assist electric motor feature if you want a little help with those hills or you are just plum worn out 5 miles into the ride and want a little help getting home.
As I wrote back in the June blog, “It is possible to produce products that are truly made in the USA and every time we do it benefits American families. We do it at Rhoades Car and there are many more companies out there just like us that need your support. If we can all focus on buying American-made products, we can get the USA back to once again being the global leader. But it will take sacrifices to get there.
It’s a New Year and time to refocus on buying American-made products. Come on now, you read the back of the food labels when you are looking to cut calories or check the sodium content so you can do it to look for American-made products. So please, the next time you go to a store to purchase an item, read the label and buy the one that says – “Proudly Made in the USA”.
Happy New Year everyone! And be sure to visit us often at www.RhoadesCar.com.