Are e-bikes the big weapon against crude oil? Study shows drop in oil demand

Electric cars are expensive compared to cars with engines, with an average price difference of $3,800 in the US. Electric two-wheelers, such as e-bike
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EV
Battery-powered two-wheeler options and varieties are ever increasing. What does it mean in the green battle against climate change?
EV
Battery-powered two-wheeler options and varieties are ever increasing. What does it mean in the green battle against climate change?

There are several key players in any battle - the King, his minister, the commanders and the cavaliers. But battles are often won or lost on the basis of how well the foot soldiers fought. In the battle against climate change, and in the army of electric vehicles, these foot soldiers may well be electric bikes, of one kind or another.

According to The Conversation, an Australia-based network of not-for-profit media outlets, there are around 280 million electric bikes or e-bikes across the world at present. And the numbers are growing. This figure includes various iterations of electric two-wheelers - from mopeds and scooters to even motorcycles. And this figure is significantly more than an estimated 20 million electric cars. Or 1.3 million electric buses. If the clarion call has been sounded in a deep shade of Green, the most aggressive charge is definitely being led by the battalion of e-bikes.

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But why have e-bikes gained popularity at such a rigorous pace, and in a relatively short span of just a few years? The answers may be as clear as they are obvious.

Awareness plays the mind games

The talk of green mobility options as a viable way to fight climate change is everywhere. Sure, there are critics by the bus load who point to how harmful critical mineral extraction for batteries is for the planet or how much more water-intensive the EV-manufacturing processes are. But the general consensus is zero emission is good emission. But while most want a cleaner and greener planet, most also can't just switch to EVs at the drop of a salary slip.

electric scooter
Affordability remains a key concern for people across the world who are looking to switch to electric mobility options.
electric scooter
Affordability remains a key concern for people across the world who are looking to switch to electric mobility options.

Affordable transition is a tactical move

Electric cars are expensive to buy. Yes, they still are regardless of which part of the world one may be in. And this is especially when compared to the upfront purchase price between electric cars and cars with engines. In the US, the average price difference between an electric car model and its conventional counterpart is at $3,800 or 3.16 lakh. Tesla CEO Elon Musk may earn that much every micro second but for people at large, that's a bit too steep.

How about an electric moped instead? Or an e-scooter, or even an e-cycle? Relatively affordable and perfect for short city-based commutes, electric two-wheelers are proving to be practical, economical and of course, free from emissions. And with limited requirements of a robust public charging infrastructure, these can be re-charged at will and almost anywhere.

Stealing the gleam off of Black gold

According to The Conversation, in cumulative terms, the popularity of e-bikes has cut daily oil demand by one million barrels already. This is around one per cent of global demand a day. Or four times more than what electric cars have achieved so far.

Numerous studies across the world have further indicated that micro-mobility options powered by battery technology can actually play as big a role as electric mass-transit options to slash pollution levels in global cities. And people are largely more accepting of such mobility options too. A McKinsey survey in December of 2021 found that 70 per cent of respondents were willing to use micro-mobility options for their daily commutes. Micro-mobility essentially refers to distances of up to five miles or eight kilometres.

But what about the covert hindrances?

E-bikes are like superheroes, right? Not exactly. Many cities in Europe have a strict policy against the use of variants such as e-mopeds, e-skateboards and even e-cycles. City administrators claim these tend to increase chances of accidents and need to be regulated properly. Additionally, weather-related factors are an obstacle too as places that are too cold or too hot may not be make people there take to such options kindly.

That said, e-bikes are not just here to stay but are expected to take over global roads sooner rather than later - one street at a time.

First Published Date: 28 Nov 2023, 15:16 PM IST
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