The personal short-distance travel economy has given rise to a significant growth market, and electric bicycles (ebikes) have become the latest trendy mode of transportation. Under the market’s influence, ebikes have emerged as the most representative short-distance travel tool, sparking a hot trend in the electrification revolution. This trend has also accelerated the development of markets like electric cargo bikes and electric scooters, promoting the growth and dissemination of ebike sales and cycling culture. While the wave has somewhat subsided, the inventory accumulated during the period of rapid growth does not dissipate with it. Faced with slow growth in complete bicycle sales, brands are exploring new market strategies. Unlike sharing, medium- to long-term leasing has become a new market strategy recognized by some brands.
Ebike Rentals on the Rise, Brands Joining In
Recently, more and more complete bicycle brands have announced partnerships with rental platforms to include their electric bikes in rental programs.
British electric-assist bicycle brand Estarli has joined the Blike rental platform, offering four of its bicycles on the Blike platform. Consumers can rent the bicycles on a monthly payment basis, which includes insurance and maintenance services. Blike provides professional bicycle assembly and tuning for customers, establishing partnerships with bicycle repair companies Fettle and Fix Your Cycle in London, as well as a network of local bicycle shops. BikeFlex announced a collaboration with car rental provider Arval UK in the UK market, offering corporate vehicle leasing options for electric bicycles, eCargo bikes, cars, and commercial vehicles, providing comprehensive optimization for fleets. Pon Holdings partnered with Volkswagen Financial Services to provide electric bicycle leasing services to corporate employees or business customers in the United States and Europe. Ebike brand Peddle announced a partnership with bicycle rental company BikeFlex. Additionally, ebike brands like Reilly, Orro, Basso, BH, KTM, and Cooper have joined BikeFlex.
According to Pon Holdings, the potential of the European corporate bicycle rental market is expected to reach $10.7 billion by 2028. The rental market, with its tremendous potential, has attracted many brands and injected vitality into the industry, exploring various new development models.
Expanding into New Channels
Bicycle rentals are not a new industry. The rise of the sharing economy and the advocacy of carbon neutrality and green environmental concepts have driven the growth of the rental industry. In some overseas countries, substantial subsidy policies have been introduced for the new energy rental industry. Vehicle brands are expanding their product portfolios through rental models.
In overseas markets, ebike rentals primarily consist of private rentals and corporate rentals. Private rentals involve reserving bicycles in-store or via advance phone appointments, selecting the vehicle, signing a contract to determine the rental period, and returning the vehicle to the store at the end of the rental period. Corporate rentals, on the other hand, involve financial leasing. Through leasing, electric two-wheelers become the property of the leasing company, which must return the electric bicycles at the end of the contract period.
For customers, rental options offer lower costs and increased flexibility compared to purchasing. Providing rental services allows enterprises to generate more revenue. Furthermore, large-scale rentals serve as a natural channel for brand promotion. Customers who have a good experience during the rental period are likely to purchase products from the same brand, so many brands are providing rental services to expand their market.
Businesses that choose to rent can also flexibly combine vehicle types based on their enterprise stage, optimizing transportation efficiency.
While the cost of leasing is lower, rental platforms also offer high-end road bikes. For example, on the BikeFlex platform, models from British brands Orro and Reilly, as well as Basso, BH, KTM, and Cooper electric bicycles, mainly target novice riders and young people in the growth stage. They are expected to change vehicles more frequently, making leasing more cost-effective than purchasing. Additionally, leasing allows customers to learn about the long-term usage of various brands, making it easier to choose in the future.
Making a Pact with Commuters
Commuting remains the primary use of electric bicycles, and as a result, some rental platforms have partnered with enterprises to provide commuting bicycles to employees at reasonable prices through medium- to long-term leasing. Employees can flexibly choose their commuting options.
Bike Mobility Services provides bicycle services to over 600,000 employees in more than 65,000 companies through a network of 8,000 dealerships, with 90% of the rental bicycles being electric bicycles. With the advocacy of low-carbon travel, electric bicycles are an excellent choice for commuting. However, the high price of an electric bicycle makes it difficult for ordinary consumers to afford the full price. Leasing, on the other hand, is more affordable. For example, Peddle electric bicycles on the BikeFlex platform currently retail for £1,599 for the Peddle Go and £2,599 for the Peddle Pro. However, through leasing, customers only need to pay £77 per month, reducing financial pressure.
Long-term leasing provides convenience for commuters. Moreover, bicycle-related infrastructure has improved in recent years, making cycling more convenient and free than driving. As a result, bicycle rentals have gained momentum in many European markets, including the Netherlands, Belgium, the Scandinavian Peninsula, the UK, and France.
Our modes of transportation have evolved, transitioning from daily exercise to short-distance travel. Electric bicycles, as essential tools for short-distance travel, have permeated various aspects of people’s lives. This is one of the factors contributing to the growth of the bicycle rental market. The growth of the electric bicycle market and the increasing demand for rental services complement each other. The progress of internet technology and the construction of government infrastructure will also drive market development