Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Electric Two Wheelers Will Sell But What Kind?

A recent study estimates some 466mm electric bikes, motorcycles and scooters will be sold worldwide over the next six years. Most will be sold in China and yes, it’s hard to fathom but some research says there’s already100mm electric bicycles on the road in China.

History repeats itself because everyone is getting all jiggy about electric bikes….again. Yo….I’m getting’ déjà vu dizzy thinking back a decade about the ill fated Schwinn-GT/Tom Mason/Currie electric bike partnership fueled by Tom’s industry outsider turned insider quest to show the bike biz how it was done.  (BTW, wtf ever happened to Mason anyway?)

No surprise, the doomed project transformed the production line into one that exclusively built closeouts and as my lovely colleague Andrew Herrick says, “There’s nothing worse than being ahead of your time”

But today it’s different, better technology, batteries, market, demand, etc. The list is promising. However, a case of black hole blindness prevents me from seeing the U.S. electric bike market accelerating as much as on other parts of your planet.

Instead, the big two wheeled electric sellers in the U.S. will be electric scooters.  Easy to park, low cost to produce/sell and operate and much more “streetwise” in their modus operandi. C’mon….if you’re a fat, lazy and unaccountable American why would you even think of getting around on a bike with a  boat anchor battery? Ha

Stand back you naysayers because the big players are jumping in deep with electric scooters….. Mini, Honda, Peugot, Nissan, etc….. all are corp-dudes that play for keeps.  With the ability to weeman dwarf any product/marketing efforts the puny U.S. electric bike industry can muster to convince consumers that your pedal platform electro-product is more relevant and desirable?        

OK…Can we hallucinate for this 5 minutes of my life?  If I was a bicycle retailer I’d consider opening up a new retail store called Lenny’s Electric Scooter & Bicycle Joint.

Location, location, locationed in a densely populated earthly urban market it would most likely be a “pop-up” retail opportunity. This small footprint, temporary satellite location would be a 90-180 day test with clean, simple, inexpensive and minimalist merchandising displays (think giant chalkboard art walls).

Of course, we’d offer up a tight line of urban friendly bikes at reasonable price points but the real focus would be a select line of electric only scooters and folding bikes….

Whoa…..I’m out of time…..Part Two of this post will pose the possibility of the folding bike becoming the future two wheeled icon of urban cool.  ??????