While the rapid increase in popularity of electric motorcycles remains to be felt in full force in the U.S. market, other countries all over the world are seeing a huge influx of electric two-wheelers, particularly in Asia, and some parts of Europe. This leads a lot of people to wonder just when electric motorcycles will become the norm, and overtake gas-powered two-wheelers in terms of volumes.
Well, the answer to this is certainly dependent on a multitude of factors, not least of which would be the economy. The BBC recently published an article highlighting how electric motorcycles are rapidly gaining popularity in Asia. Quite honestly, as someone who actually lives in the Philippines, a Southeast Asian country, I’m a bit surprised that the sudden influx of electric two-wheelers is only now making national headlines.
Growing up, being surrounded by scooters and small displacement motorcycles led me to believe that they were as ubiquitous all over the world as they were here at home. Although my family did not rely on scooters or motorbikes to get around, I grew up with my dad taking up scooter riding as a leisure activity. I ended up doing the same, but in my case, with bigger, performance-oriented motorcycles. Regardless, motorcycles, especially small-displacement, fuel-sipping scooters, can be considered the lifeblood of a good number of Southeast Asian countries’ economies.
This is exactly why, given the sudden inflation of fuel prices, the increased demand for micro-mobility, and the unwavering need for last-mile delivery services, electric scooters simply make sense. To put things into perspective, the article from The BBC highlighted just how dependent certain Asian countries are on two-wheelers. It cited that 87 percent of households in Thailand own at least one motorcycle, with scooters being the most popular type. Meanwhile, 86 percent of households in Vietnam, 85 percent in Indonesia, and 83 percent in Malaysia have at least one motorbike in their garage, on which they depend on for day-to-day mobility.
If you factor in the cost of fuel and maintenance on gasoline powered machines into an already extremely price-sensitive market, the shift to electric simply makes so much sense. For starters, electric motorcycles can simply be plugged into a wall socket as you would your mobile phone. Plus, they require virtually zero maintenance, save for tires, brake pads, and other small items.
In the same article published by the BBC, Arushi Kotech, an automotive analyst at the research group Economist Intelligence Unit, attributed the growth of electric two-wheelers in Asia to a variety of reasons. “The first, is personal disposable incomes, especially outside China, in markets like India and southeast Asia, still remain low on average, which makes cars unaffordable.” She continued, "and, especially at a time like this, when food and fuel inflation is so high. That would add to the direct cost of owning a petrol vehicle. Which is why we think that the switch to electric [motorbikes] will be much faster."
As more and more manufacturers big and small roll out more and more electric two-wheelers, there’s no denying that electric scooters and motorcycles will continue skyrocketing in popularity, especially in the micro-mobility hungry, price-sensitive markets in Asia. Europe is gradually hopping on the electric bandwagon, too, as emissions and noise regulations become even tighter, and various countries in the old continent are starting to roll out incentive programs on EVs.