Electric Bike Sales Have Out-Pedaled EV and Hybrid Car Sales in the U.S.

There’s no doubt that electric and hybrid cars are the wave of the future as many automakers are set to add electrified models to their lineups in the coming years. However, if you were to look at the data provided by Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA), you would think that electric bikes are going to be the transportation of choice for the future. According to their reports, electric bikes outsold both EVs and hybrid cars in 2021 combined, which is surprising, to say the least.

Electric bikes outsold EVs and hybrid cars by a large margin in 2021

 A man rides an e-Bike in Madrid, Spain.
A man rides an e-Bike in Madrid, Spain. | Samuel de Roman/Getty Images

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As you can probably guess, the main reason for the large uptick in electric bike sales in the past couple of years was mainly due to the pandemic. Electrek reported that the data released by LEVA concluded that the “U.S. saw nearly 790,000 electric bike imports in 2021.” That’s up by 70% over the 463,000 units imported in 2020. In contrast, Americans purchased 652,000 electric cars and plug-in hybrids in 2021 combined, according to BloombergNEF.

That’s a large margin between the two modes of transportation, however, it pales in comparison to Europe and Asia, both of which trumps America’s e-bike sales. LEVA estimates that Europe and Asia sell 3 million and 35 million e-bikes annually, respectively. Electric bikes sales in those countries have outpaced sales of electric cars and hybrids for years.

Why are electric bikes so popular?

A Cowboy's employee rides a Cowboy electric bike in the streets of Brussels.
A Cowboy’s employee rides a Cowboy electric bike in the streets of Brussels. | JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images

Convenience is the main reason many Americans are now turning to two-wheeled, electrified transportation. Thanks to the pandemic, and the need for social distancing, Americans switched to e-bikes in order to avoid crowded public transportation. Another convenient aspect of using an electric bike is that some of them are lightweight and foldable – like the Lectric 2.0 Step-thru – so they can be easily carried and stowed away when the rider reaches their destination.

Another advantage that e-bikes bring to the transportation table is their relative ease of use. Unlike normal, man-powered bikes that take a lot of pedaling and some sweat to move, electric bikes have a pedal-assist feature that takes a lot of the stress out of riding.

Additionally, the added power means that the rider can go farther faster and won’t have to deal with needing a shower when they get to work, home, or anywhere else. Ultimately, riding an e-bike is a much healthier way to get around town and it’s more affordable and convenient than having to park and drive a hybrid car, especially for those in dense urban areas.

Will e-bikes continue to outsell EVs and hybrid cars?

2022 Toyota Prius in the snow
2022 Toyota Prius | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

There’s a really good chance that e-bikes will continue to outsell EVs and hybrids in the coming years. Considering more and more electric bikes are hitting the market every quarter and prices have dropped since they were first introduced, it wouldn’t surprise if sales numbers increased exponentially.

After all, while electric cars and hybrids are the waves of the future and present an eco-friendly alternative to gas-powered cars, electric bikes are safer for the environment and cost a lot less.

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