The bike and automotive industries appear to have different ideas on what the future e-bike regulations may look like, with dialogues from this month’s IAA Mobility and Eurobike shows illustrating a divergence in ambition.
At a CONEBI and ZIV organised panel discussion at Eurobike there was a broad agreement between speakers including CONEBI president Erhard Büchel, Accell Group CEO Ton Anbeek and industry consultant Bernhard Lange that toying with current legislation will pose an enormous threat to the bike industry’s key growth market at the worst possible time.
Lange commented during the event: “It (adjustment to the current regulations) could kill hundreds of small manufacturers in Europe. If the variety of bicycles is gone, what is there? Just ten to 20 large manufacturers and we have a uniform bike template remaining. I fear if hundreds go that the remainder would in time become named Volkswagen, Peugeot and Fiat. They will jump in and make these uniform cycles. Without cars at this particular bike show, I am liking seeing the variation in design and we should not kill this industry with such a risk.”
Just a few days after the close of the final Friedrichshafen event came the inaugural IAA revamp under the IAA Mobility banner, the key difference being the invitation to the bike industry to blend in with what has formerly been an automotive only event.
Here Bosch eBike Systems CEO Claus Fleischer told CI.N in no uncertain terms his strong feeling on the e-Bike regulations matter, stating: “Of primary importance to the industry at large is the safeguarding of the pedelec designed to cut of 25kmh; this must, at all costs, remain legislatively as a bicycle. That is our treasure. We know there are different influencers who have a view on changing this. In my view, they forget we may lose this status of the e-Bike within the bicycle framework. We must remain without licence and insurance requirement, with bike path access.”
Indeed, even bike industry firms are split on the e-Bike regulations discussion, with some viewing the ongoing modification of bikes with DIY motor systems as a potential threat to the e-Bike’s legislative safety. Likewise, there are those that hold the belief that speeds more aligned to traffic are safer than the 15.5mph assisted limiter on European laws presently held.
Throwing all sense of caution to the wind are automotive operators who have recently revealed their own take on the future of electric bikes. This week BMW has openly stated in tandem with the unveiling of its i Vision AMBY concept: “In the absence of any existing legal framework for a vehicle of this kind with a modular speed concept, the ‘AMBY’ Vision Vehicles set out to prompt the introduction of such legislation and by consequence developments of this nature.”
BMW’s take on e-Bike regulations builds upon the idea of electric bikes utilising different speeds for different roads and cycle paths, an idea that was touted in Canyon’s dual motor velomobile concept last year.
“With the BMW i Vision AMBY, the first high-speed pedelec for urbanists, the BMW Group is presenting a visionary two-wheeled solution for the urban mobility of tomorrow,” starts the automotive giant’s press release on the i Vision AMBY.
“The modes available to the rider are stored in the app on the smartphone linked with the “AMBY” Vision Vehicle. Manual selection of the modes is perfectly feasible, as are automatic recognition of location and road type via geofencing technology and the associated automatic adjustment of top speed,” continues the PR.
With this BMW are touting the idea that output speeds of an electric bike could be adjusted based on GPS identification of whether the vehicle is being used on a cycle path or a road, adjusting the assistance in tandem with regulations currently attributable to two separate vehicle types.
Acknowledging the idea of ‘peak car’ in cities, BMW adds: “The BMW Group is therefore showing its keenness to remain part of the mobility conversation in cities, even if in the years ahead those cities offer motor cars an increasingly small space in which to function.”
There is a sense that the coming together of the bike and car industries has been on the horizon for a while, with both industry experts and our editor writing on the matter as far back as 2016. With the electric bike coming to maturity in the marketplace the industries have a junction at which they are crossing and likely to merge more often.
Speaking anonymously on this topic at IAA Mobility when asked by CI.N why they had chosen the show to exhibit one brand commented: “We’re here to offer the automotive world a lead into our side of the development and strike up collaborations around areas in which our product lines are slightly more refined around two wheel mobility habits.”
CyclingIndustry.News’ next print edition will carry a full interview with the Bosch eBike Systems CEO, alongside a recap on the CONEBI and ZIV event, as well as broader coverage of the two international trade shows and trends found at each. Trade members may subscribe for a printed or digital subscription here.