US Largest Automaker Goes the ‘Electric Way’: Sign of Things to Come?

28 Jan 2021

General Motors (GM), the largest automaker in the U.S have made its first major foray into the ‘electric’ category a couple of days back when it unveiled its electric bike named Ariv.

This is a desperate move by GM to broaden its portfolio, in a bid to protect itself against uncertainties prevailing in a changing market. These bikes come in two variants- a compact e-bike named ‘Meld’ and a folding e-bike named the ‘Merge’. The names have been agreed upon through a crowdsourcing campaign that was initiated in late 2018.

Battery-powered e-bikes have been a craze of late in European countries, and GM said they have started taking orders for Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. Shipping is likely to start in the second quarter of this year.

The recent moves by Ford and GM to explore nontraditional transportation markets are significant in the wake of their declining sales, all existing vehicle segments combined. Ford's e-scooter and GM's e-bike investments are definite attempts to attract a niche market dominated by a more urban and a younger demographic whose transportation requirements are distinctly different from the earlier generations.

Automakers have received initial threats from changing market dynamics in these demographics, and industry watchers predict the evolution of new and related businesses to cater to their distinct needs. The advent of ride-sharing options provided by Lyft, Uber, Ola and similar companies has left the car makers concerned about their long-term car sales.

GM and its rivals have been contemplating to diversify into self-driving and ride sharing cars and scooters in a bid to stay relevant and competitive in an evolving market. Even Harley-Davidson has ventured into the light-weight electric 2-wheeler category to protect itself against a future decline in motorcycle ridership.

Our take on this:

The global electric bike market is showing encouraging trends, to say the least. It is growing at a CAGR of 4.9 % for the projected period of 2018-2025. The market is expected to reach a figure of $ 23,831 million by the year 2025.

The electric bikes market is fast developing into an industry with bright opportunities, thanks to the overwhelming government support and favorable rules. Increasing fuel costs have fast-tracked consumer inclination towards e-bikes, and these are also seen as an efficient and eco-friendly solution to commuting. E-bikes have also attracted the attention of the ‘fitness-freaks' who prefer cycling as a healthy yet low-impact recreational activity, with many mental and physical benefits attached. All factors combined, the wind is certainly blowing in favor of the e-bikes market, and undoubtedly a sign of things to come.