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Green, cheap, fun, easy ... e-bikes fly

By Liu Yukun | China Daily | Updated: 2022-08-15 07:53

Visitors check out e-bikes at an expo in Changzhou, Jiangsu province. [Photo by WANG QIMING/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Wang Xiao is the sixth neighbor in a month to seek my view on electric bikes as I happened to gift one to my mother-in-law a couple of months ago.

Like Wang, many others are seriously considering e-bikes as an alternative-and cheaper-mode of personal transport as traditional gasoline-powered vehicles have become an expensive proposition, due to fuel price hikes triggered by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

"Driving a car is almost as expensive as taking a cab, if you take the parking fee into account. It's no longer a good choice to drive to work or go somewhere for fun, if you factor in the expenses, the time spent on finding a parking space and all the attention you have to pay to road traffic," Wang said.

Enter e-bikes. You can buy a decent one for about 3,000 yuan ($444). That's what Wang spends on his car every month. Charging an e-bike battery for a whole week's power costs only about 1 yuan.

The e-bike I bought for 5,400 yuan is the latest version of the brand. It has a host of fancy features that perform a range of functions. It costs 1 yuan for a single full charge of the battery, which lasts up to eight hours and runs for 80-100 kilometers.

Apparently, I'm not the only one making such cost-benefit calculations. When COVID-related restrictions were in force, many stores in my neighborhood were closed. But not an e-bike shop. In fact, its owner told me he opened another six stores! What for? Well, to tap the growing demand, he said.

According to data from consultancy Intelligence Research Group, the total number of e-bikes in China reached 325 million last year.

A recent IRG report said e-bikes have gradually attracted the attention of consumers because of their convenience, low cost, eco-friendly characteristics and other advantages. Today many families still choose to buy e-bikes for short-distance rides even if they own a car.

According to the report, China's e-bike sector is developing rapidly and has a relatively mature industrial chain. The country's e-bike production has maintained growth for four consecutive years. Last year, e-bike production reached 3.96 million units.

As for e-bike production hubs, 74.4 percent were located in the northern and eastern parts of China. North China's Tianjin, and East China's Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces are major areas of e-bike production, which have formed industrial clusters including product research and development, manufacturing, accessory production and logistics.

The report noted that although the e-bike sector has been seeing rapid development over the past few years, it lacks high standards. The market entry threshold is low. The rapid increase in the number of e-bike producers also resulted in uneven product quality levels.

However, consumers' increasingly high requirements and the government's newly released strict standards have raised the bar for e-bike manufacturers. Large firms with an edge in tech are grabbing larger market share and gradually leading the market, the report stated.

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