More Solar Power ?
With the ongoing energy crisis there may be more solar e-bike products launched in 2023 – it’s perhaps surprising that 2022 didn’t see more launches like that of Mokwheel – but judging from the comments section the highly ambitious launch price has meant widespread dissatisfaction with numerous non-deliveries…..as ever with crowdfunding caveat emptor!
Far more reliable are the kits provided by Canada’s Grin – explained here and with parts here. As Grin say, you need a lot of panel to get anywhere near self-sufficient and you need to be riding somewhere with a lot of sun – but in many locations it’s clearly feasible for a solar panel setup of some description to make a meaningful contribution to an e-bike’s power requirements for at least part of year, even if it’s only on the form of a static solar-powered charging station.
Having said all this, it’s likely that totally solar powered (ie sun reliant) e-bikes will remain the stuff of serious hobbyists as this video of the 2022 Sun Trip through California demonstrates – just look at the size of those solar panels needed! If you are interested in this area note Sun Trip California 2023 is now being organised.
A Less Rosy Future for E-scooters and the Subscription Model?
It’s been an up-and-down year for e-scooters with 2023 set to be equally unsettled. The UK is one of the last countries in the western world where the use of privately owned e-scooters is banned on public highways. As Move Electric tells us ‘That suggests that rules to legalise e-scooters are now unlikely to be put before Parliament before the second half of 2023 at the very earliest – and is more likely to spill into 2024 or beyond.’
Clearly many e-scooter companies are struggling to make ends meet. Just to give one example, German e-scooter company Tier acquired Spin early in 2022, the e-bike and e-scooter firm owned by Ford, giving it access to the North American market where Spin operated in more than 70 cities with 50,000 vehicles. Shortly afterwards Spin left 10 U.S. markets due to ‘a combination of low demand, over-regulation, under-regulation and poor cost structures’, according to Spin’s CEO.
E-bike subscription services also felt the chill winds of a downturn as, months after poaching executives from US rideshare companies Uber and Lyft, Australian e-bicycle start-up Zoomo laid off 16 per cent of its staff. Those looking for a good e-bike deal in 2023 might well be turning to second hand models – French startup Upways certainly hope so, having raised $25 million investment in 2022. Upways has taken the second hand car dealer model and applied it to e-bikes. Buying electric bikes from both consumers and companies, Upways brings those bikes to its warehouse, checks them, repairs them in some cases and lists them on their website. Of course, Upway tries to generate a small margin on every sale. If the business shows itself to be successful it will be interesting to see if they – or others using the same idea – expand outside their own home territory of France.
However, turning away from e-scooter share’s struggles there appears plenty of innovation going on that may bear fruit in 2023. UK manufacturer and retailer Pure specialises in own-brand e-scooters and announced the Pure Advance, billed as ‘the e-scooter reimagined’. It boasts a new riding position that claims to spread your weight evenly on either side of the chassis combined with steering that returns to a central position automatically. We look forward to bringing you news of its public reception. Even more of a test for how far the e-scooter design envelope can be pushed is the Dragonfly Hyperscooter, from London-based company D-fly; a wild success on IndieGoGo indicates there may be a real demand for ‘out there’ e-scooter designs. Prices are from $1879 which will test just how much appetite there is for it.