Position Papers
Dr. I.D. de Vries and D.B. Jenman
Cape Peninsula University of Technology (South Africa)
Published in
Submitted by
Peter Midgley, gTKP
Related theme(s)
Urban Mobility
Africa (AFR)
South Africa

The potential of electric bicycles to provide low cost transport, mobility and economic empowerment in South Africa

Electric bicycles have experienced a massive market growth over the last two years in Asia and Europe. “World demand for a lighter, environmentally friendly, high performance e-bike increases; in China alone, sales soared from under 100,000 units in 1998 to a staggering 4 million units in 2003” (Fairley, June 2005 & Golden power Battery). It is not the rich high tech first world that is leading the way in electric bicycles but the developing world, and this is for two main reasons – they are very cheap to run and convenient to use.

Cost Effective Electric Bicycles (or ebikes) offer a very attractive solution to South Africa’s transport problems and at the same time drastically reducing pollution levels. The cost and availability of transport is a basic factor in the quality of life and Africa as a whole cannot afford to miss out on the electric bicycle revolution.

This paper will present the current costs of Electric bicycles and the results of an investigation into capabilities of electric bicycles in terms of parameters such as range, speed and recharging time. It will also provide a comparative cost analysis of an electric bicycle as a means of transport. The paper will outline how an electric bicycle can provide a cheap means of transport, empowering a person both in terms of cost and mobility. Electric bicycle use will also substantially reduce pollution, decrease traffic congestion and reduce South Africa’s oil needs. If our transport regulators and municipal planners do not take into account this new technology, South Africa could lose an option to provide cheap and environmentally clean transport to its nation.