The pandemic created a great deal of pain and turmoil for people as they worried about health and jobs. And, people made a lot of adjustments in their daily lives during, and now after, the pandemic. There have been supply chain disruptions in all industries, making it hard to get inventory to the customer.
Despite all the strain, one of the positive impacts in the past two years has been the uptick in sales of electric-bikes. In 2021, more than 880,000 e-bikes were sold, far surpassing the units sold of electric cars and trucks (at 608,000). Industry experts predict that more than one million e-bikes will be sold in the U.S. in 2022.
And why not. E-bikes are easy to use and greatly increase the speed of regular bike trips. No more huffing and puffing up a hill, only to arrive sweaty at a destination. And instead of driving, the e-cargo bikes can make the trip and haul groceries as well as the kids. Finally, let’s not forget about rising gas prices! (The more expensive gas gets, the better my e-bike looks.)
Many new e-bike firms are taking to the road by selling only online. However, buying online has one big flaw – the inability to touch and test the product before buying. There are plenty of testimonials and videos, but nothing beats actually experiencing an e-bike.
One solution from Belgian e-bike company Cowboy, is to take the bikes to the prospective customer. In ten cities in the U.S., prospects can request Cowboy ‘ambassadors’ to bring the bikes to them for a trial ride. A similar approach is being used by Rad Power Bikes. In addition to several stores, pop-up events and test rides bring the e-bikes to more places. Pedego e-bikes uses a different model and has more than 200 distributors where riders can try the e-bikes before they buy.
Ready to ride?
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Poll students: Have they ridden electric bikes? Where and how?
- View Cowboy bikes: https://us.cowboy.com/
- View Rad Power bikes: https://www.radpowerbikes.com/
- View Pedego bikes: https://pedegoelectricbikes.com/
- In order to be successful, companies must be able to physically get a product into the hands of the customers. Discuss how a distribution channel works.
- For Internet-based e-bike companies, what distribution channels are used now?
- How can the channel be expanded? What approach could be used?
- Divide students into teams. Have each team draw a flow chart for the distribution of the product.
Sources: Boudway, I. (18 April 2022). E-bike online startup lets you ride before you buy. Bloomberg News.; Hurford, M. (27 April 2022). New research shows that e-bikes are outpacing electric car sales in the U.S. Bicycling.com.