Hong Kong electric bike start up eyes China, US market

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 November, 2016, 4:51pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 November, 2016, 10:15pm

A Hong Kong-based electric bicycle start-up plans to break into the premium powered bike market in China and the United States with the battery vehicle it developed as part of luxury carmaker Infiniti Motor’s accelerator.

E-Cycle completed Infiniti’s “LAB accelerator” programme in December last year and company founder Alan Cymberknoh has since been working alongside the carmaker under an agreement to develop a prototype for the e-bike.

Cymberknoh said the bike was designed for last mile journeys, such as replacing the walk to the train station, from a distant car park to the office, or for use by couriers and food delivery companies, adding that modes of transport for this area of short trips is growing.

“It’s not that people don’t walk anymore, but since battery technology evolved so much, now we can easily create small, light vehicles with really good performance at a low price point,” Cymberknoh said. “So many people tried cycling, but you get to work all sweaty.”

Cymberknoh is keeping the final design of the bicycle under wraps but said it weighs 16 kilograms, has a top speed of 30km an hour with a 30km battery range, and when folded can be rolled instead of carried.

The E-Cycle’s design omits the pedals and chain needed to manually power the bicycle, so once the battery charge is used up, riders will have to get off and push the cycle to an electrical outlet. The E-Cycle also has no lock because riders would wheel the bike into their homes or offices, but Cymberknoh added that he plans to explore partnerships with smart lock companies.

The bikes will cost around US$1,500 when they go on sale in 2017, which Cymberknoh said was in line with similar products on the market.

Californian electric skateboard company Boosted Board is accepting orders for the second generation of its product starting at US$999 for its basic model and electric bike company A2B’s folding bikes are sold for more than US$1,700.

E-bike sales are expected to reach US$24.4 billion globally by 2025, up from a predicted US$15.7 billion this year, according to Navigant Research. The research firm predicts 35 million e-bikes will be sold this year.

Navigant expects annual sales of e-bikes in China will decline due to market saturation and bans in some urban centres, with demand from Western Europe and North America expected to grow.

The company is now an incubatee at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park, a location Cymberknoh believes would be suited to the adoption of e-bikes.

However, Hong Kong law stipulates that powered bikes must be licensed under the same rules as motorcycles, a regulation Cymberknoh hopes will be updated to reflect laws overseas which permit the vehicles under certain restrictions, such as maximum speed.

Cymberknoh aims to raise seed funding of US$250,000 to allow the e-bike to go into production next year, with a pilot run of 100 bicycles planned in the spring.