- smart cities
- Electric Mobility
- Urban Mobility
Tech Advancements Have Unleashed Micromobility 2.0
With the collapse in public transit ridership amid physical distancing concerns, consumers are flocking to personal e-mobility devices at unprecedented levels. US e-bike manufacturer Rad Power Bikes and Italy-based e-motorcycle manufacturer Energica Motor Company are both on track to triple their 2019 vehicle sales by the end of 2020. COVID-19 has accelerated the market for business-to-consumer sales of electric two-wheelers, enabled by major technology advancements that have led to more affordable and higher performing products.
In the e-bike market, declining lithium ion battery costs are resulting in good quality, high performing e-bikes being retailed at relatively affordable mass market prices of $1,000-$1,500. Advances in all-in-one Smart Wheel technology where the battery, motor, and sensors are integrated into the hub of the rear wheel enable e-bikes that are lighter and smarter than ever before. Gogoro’s Eeyo 1s is a prime example—released in July 2020, the e-bike weighs an impossibly low 26.4 lbs (several pounds less than my non-electric, hybrid bicycle). I was lucky enough to take the Eeyo 1s for a test ride, and improvements in torque sensor technology were on full display with the most smooth and natural pedal assist feeling that I have ever experienced. A range of other improving sensor technology is enabling the addition of countless features to electric two-wheelers, including more efficient battery power management, auto locking, trip and health tracking, and air pollution sensing.
Technology advancements have also reached the seated e-scooter industry. In September 2020, France-based Red Electric announced that its new RedE 2Go E50 e-scooter will come with 186 miles (300 km) of range. This range far surpasses the range capabilities of most seated e-scooters on the market (which generally offer 60-100 miles per charge) and is fully competitive with the ranges provided by gas-powered scooters.
We Are Witnessing Micromobility 2.0
There is a saying going around the micromobility industry that the pandemic has accelerated micromobility by 5 years in the last 5 months. Considering my local Trek store associate told me “You’ll have to wait until April 2021 to get any bike that is under $1,500 and has straight handlebars” when I was recently bike shopping, this saying is unlikely an overstatement. Micromobility sales of all vehicle types are surging during the pandemic as mobility patterns continue shifting toward lower cost, more sustainable, and physically-distanced modes of transport.
More developments are taking place besides the sharp rise in consumer demand for more personal mobility vehicles and major technology advances enabling lower prices and improved micromobility products. Governments are continuing to provide preferential treatment to micromobility in the form of open streets policies, large increases in protected bike lanes, removal of on-street parking spaces, and purchase incentives. Major markets once closed off to micromobility sharing services such as the UK and New York City are now embracing their use. Micromobility 2.0 has arrived, and it’s here to stay.