In reporting a story on the surge in electric bike sales in China, I’ve had a lot of contact with a doctoral candidate from the University of California at Davis, Jonathan Weinert, who is living and doing research in Shanghai this year.
Jonathan has been really helpful and has sent me a number of research papers that he has done in conjunction with a UC Berkeley graduate student and another one from Tsinghua University here in Beijing. Click here and here to read two.
First off, conventional wisdom has that there are about 450 million bicycles in China. Electric bike sales are eating into that market. Last year, 16 to 18 million e-bikes were sold. The number will be a lot higher this year.
So here’s my question: What percentage of the two-wheeled vehicles on the road in your city do you think are electric bicycles?
Jonathan and his colleagues did a survey in 12 cities and found the number as high as 30 percent. I told that to a journalist colleague in Beijing and he scoffed at the number, saying it couldn’t be so high.
I assume cities vary a lot. Places like Tianjin and Wenzhou undoubtedly have a lot of e-bikes because that’s where factories are. Beijing has fewer. What about where you live?