Graham’s Electric Bike

A few nice electric bikes images I found:

Graham’s Electric Bike
electric bikes

Image by carrott

The Chinese Electric Bike Surprise
electric bikes

Image by jurvetson
By Jonathan Weinert, Chevron Research, but “These are not the views of Chevron”

“Surprise! – The remarkable rise of electric bikes in China.”

From a demonstration of 100 bikes in 1994 to 20M eBikes and scooters per year in China today. Even remote rural china.

Some data on Chinese eBikes:
• Cost: 0-450
• Top Speed: 16-25MPH
• 350-750W (.5 – 1hp)
• 20-40 mile range

Even cheaper than commuting by bus in China.

Much less particulate matter -> leading to Chinese push. Point source of particulates is worse than power plant far from urban center.

Drivers of eBike Growth in China:
• disposable income: went up 2x to 00/yr

• Late 90s – gas scooters banned in many cities. 53K scrapped in Shanghai

• 2004 ebikes given right to use bike lanes. “as long as it has pedals.” Also useful if you run out of charge

• 2006: Beijing repeals bans on eBikes. Guangzhou: banned all motorized 2-wheelers

• Tech: 2005-9: switched to brushless motors: 50->85% efficiency. Valve-regulated lead acid batteries: Energy Density up 33%, life up 35%, better cost and weight.

• Externalities: 2003: SARS –> fear of buses and mass transit

Survey: If no eBike, 10% would have taken cars! They have cars, but prefer the eBike for commuting (most would shift to buses, or regular bikes)

How many would have bought a scooter if ban was not there? Most people shift to eBike from bicycles and public transit for cost. 20% would have bought a gas scooter had they had that option.

EV bike: growing and adding wheels. Some are beyond regulations on weight and speed. Some manufacturers are becoming EV car makers. [Low-speed EV examples below]

Shift to LiIon:
Valve-regulated lead acid (VRLA) vs. LiIon Batteries:
• Cost: 0 vs. 0
• Mass: 26 vs.8 kg
• Lifetime: 1.5 vs. 4.5 years

50K/yr estimated EV car sales in China. Resistance points: charging infrastructure (vs eBike – can remove battery easily, and carry inside), battery safety, cost.

Public transit is not keeping up with urbanization.

26 thoughts on “Graham’s Electric Bike

  1. kimberlyjones

    Congratulations! Your photo has received the Amber Award from FotoVotr. It has been selected from the Flickr community because of its interest and popularity. For more information, please visit the FotoVotr Amber Group. We would be honored to have you join us!

  2. -fCh-

    What a great mini-case study in technology adoption, regulation, diffusion!

    Oh well, I remember those hockey-sticks populating most China-themed presentations round the turn of the millennium. It turns out that they were right, except for the beneficiaries, in most cases.

  3. jurvetson

    Chinese coal most likely. But even if an EV is 100% coal powered, it is still better than the average car. Those billion internal combustion engines waste 80% of their gasoline as heat.

    But it’s not 100% coal and the mix is changing in China, with two new nuclear plants per month and a new wind turbine being erected every hour.

  4. Jonathan Ruff

    One thing about China, they’re going to do what it takes to produce the energy their economy needs to develop massive electric transportation. The US is like a slow motion train wreck when it comes to bringing new energy online (in any form).

    Shame things usually have to break or get to a point of desperation before the political and social will exists to take bold steps. We need gargantuan increases in energy supply (and efficiency). Every major step forward has coincided with more plentiful, cheaper energy. So the likely computation there is: they who have the cheapest, greatest supply of energy, will have the greatest opportunity to leap forward technologically.

  5. curiousbrandt

    I saw so many E-Bikes, E-Scooters and even E-cargo trikes when I visited last fall. It was impressive, they were everywhere.

  6. Dr DAD (Daniel A D'Auria MD)

    I would be curious to know what you think is the major impediment to their use here in the US?

  7. paranoidroid

    Wow good timing, I just got back from Shanghai and wondered about all of these electric bikes. They really are everywhere.

  8. eastpole

    "What kind of coal is being burned to power these ‘clean machines’ ?"

    Compare the thermodynamic efficiency of a gasoline internal combustion engine with the coal plant –> power grid –> battery combination. It turns out (not a shock to engineers) that when you don’t have to carry around the apparatus for burning fuel and dissipating the 80% of the energy that gets wasted as heat, you can move a vehicle a lot more efficiently. And of course, when you don’t have to make the combustion chamber portable and collision-safe, it can be more efficient too.

    Also, note the horsepower: 0.5 to ~1 hp. Can you build an efficient gas engine that small? Does it have enough torque to go up a hill? For electric motors, we already know the answer is yes.

    The only option more efficient than these scooters is the bicycle, which I believe has already achieved widespread adoption in China. :)

    Thanks for posting!

  9. stella nurina s.

    Great timing. No wonder there are so many electric bycicles here in Shanghai! Great solution to the pollution that’s in Shanghai’s air!

  10. Jim Rees

    For a while the Chinese were busy converting their excellent bikeways into roads for motor vehicles. I hope they’ve stopped that.

  11. jurvetson

    I worked with Jonathan to get the latest numbers out of China… The EV category is mainly the E2Ws, and the installed base is up to 200M now…

    Screen Shot 2012-06-08 at 11.17.43 AM


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