EU Science Hub

E-bikes and e-motorcycles: wide use could make a difference

Electric motorcycle testing
Jan 08 2016

Electrification of road transport can reduce oil dependency, CO₂ emissions and urban air pollution. To date, most attention has been paid to the use of electric cars; however bicycles and motorcycles can represent an untapped potential in urban areas if deployed on a larger scale. A JRC co-authored article written in cooperation with the Utrecht University and the University of Geneva has evaluated the environmental, economic and social performance of electric bikes and motorcycles.

The market for electric bicycles (e-bikes) has been growing intensively, whilst higher prices and limited choice of models is still deterring riders of mid-size and large motorbikes to choose electrified versions. In 2013, 904 000 e-bikes were sold in the EU, representing 5% of the European bicycle market. E-scooters and e-motorcycles accounted for only around 1% of the motorcycle market. If Europe is to cut transport-related CO₂ emissions, traffic noise, road congestion and air pollution in urban areas, the authors recommend introducing policies that would encourage the use of electric bikes and motorcycles.

Such policies should consider tax benefits, stricter noise regulation in urban areas, dedicated driving lanes, parking and charging infrastructure, as well as effective anti-theft protection. Given the regional variability in the electricity mix, geographic and climatic conditions, infrastructure and users trends across Europe, the sustainability performance of e-bikes and e-motorcycles will vary and its assessment should be part of integrated urban mobility planning.