A sale every 3 minutes: Electric bikes outsell electric cars in UK during 2020

Electric bike sales outstripped sales of electric cars in 2020, according to an annual review of the market presented by the Bicycle Association today.

Revealing that 160,000 electric bikes were sold in extraordinary conditions last year, the recap on the year reveals that one e-bike sold every three minutes. Electric cars tallied 108,000 sales with a subsidy to buy attached.

Utilising its Market Data Service, which pools anonymised retail sales data, the BA has forecast that the trend is only just warming; a forecast to triple sales is now outlined in just three years.

As part of this trend, electric cargo bikes are identified as one area that stand to grow in the face of fast growing van mileage; a 30% contributor to NOx and particulate emissions. Bike shops, possibly due to the space burden of stock, are not committing big as yet – 8% will invest more in 2021 than previously, according to CI.N’s market report. The BA assisted in the Government in the creation of a £2 million eCargoBike Grant scheme, designed to give businesses the chance to buy in for business use.

Going into greater detail than released in the April update, the recap suggests that over 4 million inner tubes, 1.2 million lights and reflective goods, plus 800,000 locks were sold in 2020.

Showing the strength of the UK mountain bike market, 40% of bike sales were off road ready, whilst indoors 121% more turbo trainer value went through registers. Notoriously this was the pandemic’s first notably ‘boom’ segment as people panicked about being confined to their houses for many months.

Cyclists needn’t have panicked, of course. The Government, considering evidence from the BA, opted to permit bike shops to remain open as an essential transport and leisure service, opting to permit cycling as an exercise form in the process.

On this, Bicycle Association Executive Director Steve Garidis writes: “This (lobbying) was just an extension of our economic arguments made the previous year—that the bike industry should be seen as a national strategic industry—but now in 2020 made starkly relevant by Covid. We were successful, paving the way for a UK cycling boom.”

The UK bicycle market reached a value of £2.3 billion in 2020, up 45% year-on-year. It is believed that around 64,000 jobs are directly attributed to the segment in the UK.

For a broad take on the direction of the bicycle market in the coming years, CI.N’s editor took a stab at forecasting this week with reference to all available data.