If there is one aspect that immediately puts off plenty of people from buying electric bikes, a lot will definitely say that it is their steep prices. Would you be willing to buy an e-bike if it costs as much as a used car already?
There is no shortage of such e-bike models, yet people still buy them. Indeed, these bikes simply have unique advantages that ultimately give them their equally inimitable value.
This rings truer if you are one of the thousands of people out there who have fallen in love with these bikes. That said, you are also probably among the many who wish that their prices would drop somehow. For any e-bike enthusiast, this is probably a dream come true.
Indeed, will e-bikes ever become cheaper? And if they do, when? It is safe to say that it is improbable for e-bikes to become cheaper in the near future because the prices of their essential materials are still continually rising and the technology still has not matured.
From the battery to the motor, the current trend of e-bike manufacturing is focused on the improvement of performance. This means manufacturers are still shelling out money to upgrade their models to provide a better experience and user convenience.
The technology, in short, still has not settled. Secondly, you also have to not overlook the economic factor. Prices of imports are volatile and, most of the time, they are almost always pointed upward.
Additionally, newer, more advanced features are always being introduced to future models, which also substantially influences the price of any e-bike. Even so, that does not necessarily mean that this will always be the trend in the future. Once the technology reaches its maturity level, the direct result is almost always a decrease in the prices of e-bikes.
You also should not overlook the availability of second-hand e-bikes, which are being offered with large slashes at the sale price. In this regard, it is arguable that you still manage to maintain a lot of control over whatever budget you allot when purchasing an e-bike that will suit your needs and preferences.
Read also: What to think of a second-hand e-bike? And, What is e-bike resale value?
Why e-bikes are unlikely to get cheaper any time soon
The trajectory of e-bike prices is likely to remain constantly on the rise at present, and it will not be changing direction any time soon. As said above, this is brought about by myriad factors. In this section, we will explain in greater detail how each factor influences the said trajectory. This way, you will be able to acquire a well-rounded answer to the main question.
Materials used to manufacture e-bikes
If we are going to talk about the materials used by e-bikes in terms of ballooning prices, a lot of it hinges on the battery. In the past, there had been a preference for lead-acid batteries for electric bikes because of their relatively low cost. Some e-bike still actually use such batteries in their models.
Read also: What is the difference between e-bike batteries? And, How far can e-bikes go? What is the e-bike range?
However, there is an apparent growing trend of companies opting for Lithium-ion batteries instead. This is because of their higher overall capacity, smaller size, and weight. While these batteries’ prices have gone down significantly during the last decade, it can still be argued that their prices are still sensitive to increases in the prices of the materials used to make them.
Metals like cobalt, lithium, and nickel, which form the majority of the components of li-ion batteries, are expected to always have persistently increasing demand. And it has been proven that these batteries are especially sensitive to even slight increases in the prices of these commodities. This is why a lot of e-bikers have qualms about the fact that a single battery replacement can cost you a hefty sum already.
The same can be said for the motors, especially the ones manufactured by well-known brands like Panasonic, Bosch or Samsung. Price always ascends with even a small margin in wattage. In the process, it can bump the costs significantly.
Read also: Front, mid-drive, or rear e-bike motor. Which one to choose? And, What is the difference between e-bike motors?
Furthermore, most of these brands almost always make use of high-quality materials in their motors that ensure longevity and performance. Whether the e-bike makes use of dual motors (which goes without saying are often always more expensive) has to be factored in too.
This factor depends a lot on one’s country. However, there is no denying the fact that pretty much most countries are affected by fluctuations in the prices of imports as well as inflation. Of course, if the imports are materials used in the battery, their prices will be greatly affected as well. That is just a very basic picture of how the economy influences e-bike prices.
The Brexit situation and inflation are but some good examples of the way the present state of the economy is affecting the price of e-bikes. Even if battery prices may be falling in the US, they are still rising in the UK because of the falling value of the pound and other economic and political factors.
At best, this illustrates how your current country of residence affects how expensive or budget-friendly an e-bike can get. Obviously, these aspects remain very unpredictable as well.
E-bike technology has its costs
As said above, e-bike technology, in general, is still in a transitory state. There is a consistent drive to test the limits of what it can offer to the average e-biker. Since this is the case, and the market and the technology still have not attained maturity, the prices will remain high. This has always been the case for any kind of novel technology.
You can easily see this disparity in prices when you compare the prices of low-end or “obsolete” e-bikes with those of high-end ones. More advanced e-bikes feature state-of-the-art capabilities that push the boundaries of e-bike technology.
From GPS trackers and app synchronization to smart routing, these innovative models manage to command lofty price tags because of their never-before-seen, highly convenient functionalities. But even they are bound to be overshadowed soon, considering the rate at which manufacturers are scrambling to outshine each other.
Read also: How much does it cost to own an e-bike? And, What is the difference between cheap and expensive e-bikes?
Electric bike market competition
With that said, the competition also plays a vital role in influencing e-bike prices. Chinese models are often desired because of their comparatively cheaper prices. However, they are also notorious for being low in quality and most do not really last long and can have many defects. That is not to say that they are without a large client base, though. And their entrance has only made the competition fiercer.
In fact, they even managed to force Western companies to lower their prices. Nonetheless, there are e-bikers out there that simply avoid Chinese brands like the plague because of their less-than-impressive reputation. This is why you cannot really expect manufacturers of high-end e-bikes to run out of patrons any time soon.
Read also: Top trusted e-bike brands from the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Switzerland, Asia (China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea), India.
The future of e-bikes and their prices
Now that you have learned about some of the aspects that affect the trend of high costs in e-bikes, it is time to look at where e-bikes will be in the future. This way, you will gain a more comprehensive view of its trajectory. By the same token, we might be able to provide a reasonable answer to the second main question of this piece.
The drive to upgrade makes it quite difficult to ascertain exactly where e-bikes currently stand. However, what is certain is that the integrated batteries and motors have massively improved since the introduction of these types of bikes.
Gone are the days of heavy e-bikes because of the chunky batteries that are hanging outside the frame. Furthermore, plenty of features have now been added to mitigate past issues and introduce enhancements in the process.
Electric mountain bikes, in particular, are seeing especially rapid developments because of the growing number of patrons they have. In fact, it is one of the subcategories of e-bikes where plenty of experts are more than willing to share their thoughts, particularly with regards to its future.
Easy Tip: The general gist of their forecasts is that e-bikes of the future will be significantly lighter, include more technology (and connectedness), better rider-based geometry, and overall user experience.
The key is for the technology to ripen
While the technology might vastly improve in a short amount of time, unfortunately, prices are almost always directly proportional to its rise as well. As to when e-bikes will attain full maturity, only time will tell.
Easy Tip: Once e-bike technology matures, only then can you finally expect e-bike prices to drop – or plummet, even.
This is why you can expect more obsolete models to cost relatively cheaper than the newly released ones. And their prices will decrease further in a matter of a few years.
Lithium and cobalt might still be valuable and cost a lot, but you can expect Li-ion battery prices to drop as a whole. It has been the trend since 2010, and it does not seem to be showing signs of changing course any time soon.
Since Li-ion batteries are widely considered as one of the best batteries ever invented, it will be a long shot to say that e-bike manufacturers will be looking for an alternative momentarily.
In the end, it all depends on your preferences and purposes
What do you want from an e-bike? Are you a tech purist who cannot get enough of models that have “innovation” written all over them? Or do you want to opt for just practicality even if you will settle for just mid-range and even low-end models for it? Never underestimate these models because they still manage to provide all the essential benefits of an e-bike.
A good example of a solid low-end e-bike is the Hyper electric bike we featured in this article. It costs less than $600 but it can achieve the 20MPH average top speed of mid-range and high-end e-bikes. While a bit heavier, it still incorporates a li-ion battery.
However, it definitely foregoes every tech-y feature you can expect from more expensive e-bikes. A lot of users who praise this kind of bike have a tendency to use it for short, daily commutes that take less than an hour. If that is your purpose then you will certainly not have to spend thousands of dollars on a highly advanced e-bike just for it.
Read also: How to select the best commuter e-bike (with examples)? – also in this article. And, how much does a commuter e-bike cost?
The Turbo Vado from the same article costs almost ten times that amount at $5,150. Nonetheless, it more than makes it up for the cost with its lifetime warranty and the additional advanced features like app support, route tracker, GPS functionality, and riding range indicator.
Obviously, users of this kind of sophisticated bikes tend to choose them because they spend a considerable amount of time riding an e-bike and need these extra features. Or it could also be because they prefer to be as contemporary as possible.
The main pull of electric bikes stems from their unprecedented convenience. It transformed the conventional biking experience of being fully human-powered to solely electric-run.
Read also: Cowboy 3 vs Vanmoof S3 review, top connected city e-bikes. And, Angell vs Cowboy vs Vanmoof, which one would you choose?
This is why it will not be a surprise if there are plenty of people who will jump at the chance of trying out the freshest features that are being made available. Likewise, they are more than willing to shell out the money for these reasons.
Will e-bikes have a good chance of becoming cheaper in the future?
Considering the facts said above, it would prove to be futile to hope that e-bikes would have big price drops in the foreseeable future. Not if primary parts like batteries continue to rely on in-demand materials like cobalt and lithium.
Economic dynamics, which are highly variable, will always come into play as well, besides the waves produced by clashes between sizable (and not-so-sizable) companies that manufacture electric bikes.
E-bikes will certainly become cheaper in the end like any other gadget or piece of technology. Just do not expect its prices to settle down in just a matter of a few months or even years. Do not overlook the point that it is still technically in its growth stage – if not in its infancy – and this notion is what excites e-bike riders the most.
The veil of e-bike technology is slowly being lifted in front of our eyes, and the future certainly looks very bright for its users. Of course, this also applies to them from a financial standpoint.