Nearly half of car owners believe e-bikes could replace shorter car journeys

The latest consumer research conducted by Auto Trader has revealed British car owners are open to using e-bikes to supplement their car usage with close to half seeing them as a viable alternative to shorter car journeys.

According to Auto Trader’s recently published report ‘E-bikes and micromobility: The Future of Travel?’ which polled current consumer perceptions of e-bikes, there is an opportunity for collaboration between industry, government, retailers and brands to drive awareness and growth in this sector and make e-bikes a practical solution for the majority of the UK population.

Despite e-bike sales in the UK hitting £310 million in 2022 – up from just £55 million in 20171 – growth has started to slow down with only 9% of UK consumers stating that they own an e-bike. Looking ahead to 2024, industry analysts2 believe that significant growth will once again be seen in this market as more individuals become aware of and experience e-bikes.

One of the biggest opportunities for e-bike adoption is with commuters. However, the report revealed that only a small percentage of commuters own an e-bike, with over three quarters of those surveyed indicating that they have never bought or considered using an e-bike.

Although take-up has been slow amongst commuters, over one in ten commuters are looking to buy an e-bike in the next six months, meaning a total of 3,797,912 are actively considering purchasing one.

However, concerns have been raised by most commuters on e-bike ownership with 87% highlighting barriers that would prevent purchase in the near term.

When questioned on ‘micromobility’, over a third of consumers see no connection between the different types of mobility transport, highlighting the need to define micromobility in a way that is easily understood by consumers.  Awareness also differs significantly amongst geography and income with those in living in cities and in higher income brackets displaying a higher knowledge of micromobility options.

Looking at what consumers want from e-bikes, the increased speed of an e-bike compared to a traditional bike and the costs savings were noted by consumers as the main appeal of an e-bike as these could help negate other costs such as fuel, public transport and parking.

Consumers however have still reservations about owning an e-bike with the high upfront cost, concerns about road safety, not using it enough and lack of bike lanes near them (31%) listed as some of the top barriers for adoption.

Although the majority of UK car owners don’t believe e-bikes will totally replace all journeys by car, over half of those who could see an electric bicycle replacing some of their car journeys, said they think an e-bike could replace a 3–5-mile journey they usually make by car.

Ian Plummer, Auto Trader’s Commercial Director comments: “Having access to a car is still of great importance for consumers across the UK and many rely on this form of transportation to get around in their day-to-day life. However, our research revealed that many also recognise the benefits that micro mobility options such as e-bikes can bring both from a cost and environmental perspective, along with speed for particular types of journeys.

“Consumers understand that by making more positive changes and using e-bikes where possible, can help reduce pollution on the roads and combat climate change. Despite this, there are still several barriers to adoption which is slowing growth in the e-bike market so financial incentives, improvements in cycling infrastructure and greater promotion of the benefits of e-bikes to the wider population from both industry and government is vital to ensure Brits have the confidence to purchase and use an e-bike on the roads in the years to come.”

Michelle Jakeway, Head of Strategic Marketing Partnerships at Raleigh added: “E-bikes have a unique role to play in helping to reduce our transport emissions, whilst at the same time reducing congestion and improving air quality.

”The findings of this report, alongside the demand that we see from consumers, highlights strong appetite for e-bikes. In order to take the e-bike revolution to the next stage in the UK, we need to see an increase in safe and continuous cycling infrastructure, alongside financial support to help people make the shift.”

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