by Senior Reporter, Esther Chan.
Electric scooters have taken China by storm, accounting for a staggering 90 percent of global sales. China is not only the globally leading market for electric motor scooters but also the leading producer – by far.
The electric scooter revolution goes beyond China, and countries such as India, Indonesia, Vietnam and other Asian markets are starting to embrace electric two-wheelers at scale.
The global e-bike revenue is estimated at US$1.4bn, of which Asia accounts for US$830m.
The reasons for the wide adoption of electric motor scooters and bikes in Asia aren’t surprising; after all, sales of petrol-powered motorbikes were already substantial. Vietnam has 45 million motorcycles on its roads, which is equivalent to one bike for every two people given its 96 million population.
The switch to electric scooters thus does not require a change in consumer preference and price is often the determining factor. Moreover, only engines larger than 50cc require a driving license and people as young as 16 years old can operate the vehicle.
Another reason is the price. In China, production has reached the level of scale and efficiency that it is possible to buy a brand-new electric motor scooter for less than US$100. Second-handed models are even cheaper, and users could also buy equipment to electrify traditional bikes.
However, not all countries are receptive to electric scooters. Singapore has banned electric scooters as of 2019 after an injury spike as a result of electric scooters. Riders would be fined as much as US$1500 or jailed for three months, or both, according to the Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min.
Electric scooters are a popular option in the city-state that’s one of the most expensive in the world to own a car. Singapore requires a certificate of entitlement (COE) that costs up to US$20000 before one can even buy a car, which represents the right to vehicle ownership and use of road space for 10 years.
With the Toyota Prius costing over US$70000, the electric scooter alternative is indeed alluring. Delivery companies like Grab have also rode on its success, and economically benefitted from its food delivery services.
It is unsurprising that electric scooters sell themselves. They offer mobility to end-consumers at competitive pricing, as low as US$150 for a brand-new electric scooter. For governments, electric scooters help address the issue of tailpipe emissions and is an effective way to centralise air pollution.