De nieuwe elektrische transportfiets van de Zweedse startup Cake

It will be one of the focal points this week at IAA Mobility in Munich: all about the market for electric two- and three-wheelers. It is a market that is developing very rapidly. It’s hard to imagine major European cities without electric scooters and bicycles. One of the most striking developments is that the difference between bicycles, motorized mopeds and cars is becoming increasingly blurred.

The most striking example of this is the rapid rise of the electric cargo bike. These are not only classic cargo bikes with an electric motor, but also other concepts that fit the “booming” home delivery market.

Parcels

Take for example PostNL and DHL, which are increasingly using electric bicycles to transport parcels, or the Turkish shopping service Getir, which has been growing like wildfire since this year with its electric bicycles and mopeds in Great Britain, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

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    The Turkish grocery service is expanding rapidly in Europe. Photo Maurits Kuypers

    And so there are many more companies that are banking on small electric transport vehicles. Some are particularly suitable for delivering meals, others for parcels or smaller groceries. New models are appearing on the market almost every week that are in line with this trend.

    Lots of models coming from Europe

    An example last week in Sweden is the start-up Cake, which presented its latest model Makka: a lightweight electric moped that can be easily converted from a city bike into a transport bike. It can be used to carry surfboards, skis and skateboards, according to the Swedes, but also picnic baskets and children, of course.

    Cake builds its electric transport bikes in Stockholm. A lot of other manufacturers source parts from Asia (usually Taiwan). Among the largest producers and innovators in Europe are Gazelle, Babboe and Urban Arrow from the Netherlands, Cube, Riese und Müller and Yoonit from Germany, and Butchers & Bicycles and Triobike from Denmark.

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    Elektrische BMW-bromfiets CE 02, Foto BMW

    E-mopeds

    The entire palette from e-scooters to e-mopeds will be on display at the IAA in Munich. For example, BMW will try to win the hearts of young fans with its concept CE 02 moped (see photo). Compared to other electric mopeds, this is going to be a real racing beast with a maximum speed of 90 km/h and a range of 90 kilometers. The only question is whether this is perhaps too fast for the intended target group of young people aged 16 and over.

    What is certain is that hiring a moped is very popular cities such as Berlin, Munich, Düsseldorf, Stuttgart and Hamburg,. Emmy is by far the largest provider, but Tier, Felyx and (to a lesser extent) Rollich are also on the up-and-up.

    Swapfiets (Swap bikes)

    The rental market for electric bikes has gained momentum this year. The American company Lime is a party that is at home in all markets. It started with e-scooters, but electric bikes and mopeds can now also be hired via the app. They can be found everywhere in Berlin’s city center.

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    Photo Maurits Kuypers

    Lime offers short-term rentals. Other pedelecs providers go for longer terms of, say, a month or six months.

    One of the biggest favorites out there winning the battle in Europe is the Dutch company Swapfiets, which is very successful in Germany, Belgium and Denmark. But there is a lot of compeition on the horizon. In Germany, these include Berlin startup Dance, e-Bike Abo, ADAC e-Ride and Grover..

    Delivery services rent electrobikes

    Many e-bike rental companies are leaving private individuals out of the equation altogether, preferring to concentrate on companies, especially delivery services. Swapfiets is one of the big players here as well. In Germany, Swapfiets works with the major meal delivery companies Delivery Hero and Foodpanda.

    Dockr also comes from the Netherlands, as does VanMoof. Other big players in Germany are GetHenry (working with food service provider Gorillas, among others) and the Swiss company Bond Mobility (working with the aforementioned grocery service Getyr). From outside the EU comes formidable competition from Australia’s Zoomo. One thing that is still missing is competition from car sharing companies.

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    Photo Maurits Kuypers

    Elections

    Pedelecs and mopeds are also currently the focus of the German election campaign. The Green Party has caused a stir with its proposal to support electric bicycles much more. An amount of one billion Euros is being considered for the next four years (on top of existing schemes).

    The Greens prefer to give a little less subsidy to electric cars and more to e-bikes. They see electric two- and three-wheelers as an important contribution to achieving the climate targets and making inner cities car-free. Other parties are more cautious in this regard. They doubt whether electric bikes can be a real alternative to the car when it comes to commuting to and from work.

    An encouraging sign for the pedelec is a study by “Cycle Logistics“, an EU project which includes cooperation with the German Aerospace Center DLR. They have conducted tests with 750 German companies from various industries and come to the conclusion in their report ‘Ich entlaste Städte‘ (I unburden cities) that the e-bike is definitely an alternative, especially on shorter routes. According to the report, half of the motorized traffic routes in the city can be by covered by bicycle.

    Also read Bernd Maier-Leppla’s column on Germany’s black-and-white approach to mobility issues and the cargo bike as an election issue, as well as an advance story on IAA Mobility.

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    About the author

    Author profile picture Maurits Kuypers graduated as a macroeconomist from the University of Amsterdam, specialising in international work. He has been active as a journalist since 1997, first for 10 years on the editorial staff of Het Financieele Dagblad in Amsterdam, then as a freelance correspondent in Berlin and Central Europe. When it comes to technological innovations, he always has an eye for the financial feasibility of a project.