Electric Bikes Take Off in China

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2009 7:00 PM CDT
A young man takes a battery-powered Egovehicle bicycle for a test ride during the Tour de Sol: The Great American Green Transportation Festival May 13, 2003 in Philadelphia, Penn.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Chinese drivers are seeing a new vehicle zip by on the nation's congested, smog-choked freeways: electric bicycles, Austin Ramzy writes in Time. Promoted by the government as affordable solutions to cars, so-called e-bikes are growing in popularity, offering a green solution to the country's automobile boom. About 21 million e-bikes sold there last year, compared to 9.4 million cars.

Although China has grown richer, millions of people—from police to migrant workers to pizza deliverers—still can't afford a car. A $290 e-bike, however, can trundle at 12 mph and save on gas. Analysts predict they will hit Southeast Asia and India next, followed by the bicycle-crazed Netherlands. About 200,000 are expected to sell in the US next year.  "What's happening in China is sort of a clue to what the future will be," one analyst said.