The Japan Bicycle Promotion Institute expected the sale of power-assisted bikes in 2008 to exceed 300,000 units. One reason why these bikes are gaining in popularity is because a new Road Traffic Law has been enacted that enables electric bike manufacturers to double a bike’s maximum motor output – thereby increasing it’s power and making it more attractive to consumers.
In particular, this means elderly consumers will now be able to pedal up a 20 degree slope even with “heavy luggage” – or groceries, or a grandchild sitting in the bike trailer!
The first “power-assisted” bicycle was introduced to Japan in November 1993. It was called the PAS, was released by Yamaha, and could travel up to 20 kilometers on a 10-hour charge. The price was 153,470 yen, more than three times the cost of a conventional bicycle.
The bicycles have come a long way since then. The designs are more sleek, and now more powerful, and a lot less expensive. Indeed, Yamaha predicts that in the not-too-distant future, every urban household will own a power-assisted cycle.
Yamaha has competition of course, from Sanyo Electric, Panasonic Cycle Technology Co. and Bridgestone Cycle Co., all of whom are launching models geared mainly at housewives.
Frank Jamerson is one of the electric bicycle industry’s elder statesmen. He has bee prosletyzing the E-bike since 1995, and has published the Electric Bikes Worldwide Report since that time.
At the time of his first report, there were only 200,000 electric bikes being sold annually, with the majority in Japan. But in just more than a decade, China would boost those numbers into the millions as the e-bike craze hit Asia, Jamerson says.
The 212-page biannual report has since expanded to include all forms of light electric vehicles and Jamerson now works with dozens of manufacturers worldwide to gain insight on the industry. In China, his partner and contributor Ed Benjamin, a fluent Mandarin speaker, works extensively with Chinese companies to understand the European and US markets.
With information ranging from regulations and sales figures to the nuts and bolts of solar-vehicle races undertaken by universities, it is among the most in-depth reports of the electric-vehicle industry.
While the US and European markets are dwarfed by China’s massive 30-million annual sales of electric vehicles, Jamerson says that 2012 should be a big year for those industries.
Here’s some information on the JBPI:
The Japanese Bicycle Promotion Institute (www.jbpi.or.jp/english/index.html) was formed in 1964. It’s purpose is to promote the Japanese bicycle industry.
The JBPI’s tasks:
-Comprehensive Bicycle Safety Planning
-Expansion of Domestic Demand and Modernization of Distribution
-Analysis of the Information and Enhancement of the International Co-operation
-Manufacturing Technology Study
-Reducing the Environmental Impact of Discarded Bicycles
-Activities of Industrial Standards and ISO/TC149 National Committee
-Basic Research and Collecting Statistics and Reports