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E-bikes in China – Click above to watch video after the jump

How cool are electric bicycles? Not all that cool, according to traffic authorities in China, where the number of e-bikes climbed from 50,000 a year ago to maybe 120 million today. That's an absurd adoption rate, and there has been an increase in the number of deaths involving e-bikes to go along with it, from fewer than three dozen in 2001 to 2,469 in 2007. One reason for the deaths is that drivers don't need a license to maneuver an e-bike down the streets – at up to 25 miles per hour – and riders don't follow traffic laws, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Authorities in China have tried various ways to limit the number of e-bikes, everything from outright bans to handing out lots of tickets for unregistered or otherwise illegal bikes. Still, because they're affordable and a fast way to get around in the crowded cities, e-bikes remain popular. For a while, the national government heavily promoted e-bikes as a sensible solution in urban areas, but the bloom has come off the rose, as it were.

How might China's e-bike situation affect plug-in transportation around the globe? Currently, most of the e-bikes (or are they electric scooters?) use lead acid batteries, but versions with li-ion batteries are coming. Sure, there's apparently a lot of lithium around, but lithium battery production rates won't increase overnight. Finding 120 million new li-ion packs, even small ones for bicycles, will take at least a little dent out of the overall market. Check out a video of e-bikes in China after the jump. Thanks to Throwback for the tip!

[Source: Wall Street Journal | Image: poida.smith - C.C. License 2.0]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 15 Comments
      • 1 Month Ago
      Those numbers make no sense at all.

      Thats a 240000 percent increase in usage.
      It is only an increase of 6800 percent in associated deaths.

      Why are morons allowed to write news copy?

      Beyond that.

      What is the death rate compared to regular bicycles?
      What is the expect from the rising use of automobiles in China?

      Journalism standards today are abysmal.
        • 1 Month Ago
        It is the wallstreet journal we're talking about.
        • 1 Month Ago
        In the original article it says:

        "By some estimates there are 120 million e-bikes on China's roads—up from just 50,000 a decade ago".

        In the ABG version it says:

        "according to traffic authorities in China, where the number of e-bikes climbed from 50,000 a year ago to maybe 120 million today".

        So, somehow, we've managed to compress 10 years into 12 months, and to add to the confusion, the death rate data runs from 2001 to 2007, so we cannot really calculate the current death rate, or the death rate in 2007. Insufficient data.

        Besides, the piece in the WSJ is just Murdoch's pretty hate machine spewing more anti-EV poison.
      • 1 Month Ago
      "Sure, there's apparently a lot of lithium around, but lithium battery production rates won't increase overnight. Finding 120 million new li-ion packs, even small ones for bicycles, will take at least a little dent out of the overall market"

      And China, where they have some of the largest lithium reserves in the world, will not have a problem finding places to manufacture it. This could actually help the market for lithium batteries, as the surge in demand for lithium for e-bikes will create a surge in production of lithium packs...and lithium packs for plug-ins will have a higher profit margin so they will most likely get first priority.

      Isn't that what China's famous for after all? Manufacturing huge stocks so economies of scale guarantee a profit, and then dumping them dirt cheap on foreign markets.
      • 1 Month Ago
      Maybe a helmet law is in order? They already have masks on. With no license plate, I could pinch people off all day. Maybe put on some boots and kick a few of those pedal bikes as I go by. No one could catch me if I had the fastest bike or scooter. No regulations are needed, survival of the fit-est or fastest. Perhaps I could put a cow catcher on the front of my e scooter/bike. Where is the love?
      • 1 Month Ago
      I don't mean to be a jerk, but what's 3,000 deaths in China? It's peanuts compared to the number of people they put on the road.
        • 1 Month Ago
        KK: So in other words, exactly 0 change?
        • 1 Month Ago
        3000 is a lot. Even in terms of per capita, that's comparable to the total number of cyclists killed in the US. (That's all bikes, not just electric bikes.)
      • 1 Month Ago
      well when I look at your website i just get a whole load of googleesk ads and no content.

      If you want to make any money off your ads your going to have to get some content as otherwise you are just a spam poster and as useful as spam mail, although even less interesting to read as at least they have content!
      • 1 Month Ago
      From the WSJ article"

      "In 2007, there were 2,469 deaths from electric-bicycle accidents nationwide, up from just 34 in 2001, according to government statistics. That's roughly 3% of China's annual 90,000 traffic accident deaths."

      So I guess that means that roughly 97% of the 90,000 (that's ~ 87,300) annual traffic accident deaths are caused by ICE vehicles and regular bicycles...

      I wonder what % of the vehicles on the road are e-bikes?

      Now that's what I call fair and balanced reporting from the WSJ, well, at least as fair and balanced as they seem to be capable of when it comes to reporting on electric transportation.
      • 1 Month Ago
      So the deaths per rider has dropped dramatically - something like by a factor of 35 - I'd say that's pretty cool.
      • 1 Month Ago
      I ride my normal bicycle at 25 mph and higher all the time. Should they be banned? I might die! (so I wear a helmet)
      • 1 Month Ago
      • 1 Month Ago
      They should just give lots of tickets to get the point across.
      • 1 Month Ago
      Um, it has been mentioned time and again in comments here that the ocean contains almost limitless reserves of lithium, which, while more expensive than current sources of lithium, is still very cheap compared to the battery one can build with it. I don't have the numbers (where's meme?), but there is NOT going to be a shortage of lithium, OK? The hurdles that batteries face are energy/power density, lifespan, and cost (which is due to high manufacturing costs, *not material costs*).
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