If you ask specialised bicycle retailers which eBikes are especially popular at the moment, very often the answer is: "Bosch bikes". But Bosch itself does not make any bicycles. No, Bosch is the supplier of the core component for electric bikes to over 60 bicycle makers and brands worldwide: the e-drive. The Bosch Group and eBikes have become inseparably associated. A global Group firmly based in automotive and providing 375,000 jobs has established itself as a major player in the bicycle industry within five years. How has the technology group from the Stuttgart region been able to gain market leadership in the premium segment of eBike drives in so little time? What is the idea behind this business venture? The answer to the above is made evident by the mission statement to provide innovative and inspiring mobility solutions for people.
Mobility is part of our lives
For almost 130 years, Bosch has been in the business of making "technology for life". Mobility is essential, whether we go to work, shopping, or on vacation - we are constantly on the move, day-in, day-out. Mobility is a basic requirement for people, society, industry and trade. Within just a few short years, electric bikes have become an important factor in ensuring individual mobility, which is at the same time healthy, efficient and sustainable.
The evolution of (e)bikes
Society is changing. This change is characterized by urbanization, awareness of ecological and health issues, and demographic transformation. These mega trends have a massive impact on our individual and commercial behavior. Innovative technologies, new solutions, and decisive improvements in existing products are making everyday life a whole lot easier for us. One such helpful evolutionary step is the electrification of bicycles. Over the next few years, electric bicycles will play an increasingly important role in terms of our personal mobility, leisure and the transport industry.
The world population is growing, resources are dwindling, and the climate is changing. For the guys at Bosch, this begged the question, how do we meet these challenges? Electric mobility seems to be essential. Electrification, automation, and networking are the future of mobility. Bicycles are no exception. But how to ensure that e-mobility becomes more than just a local solution? How to give individuals an experience of its benefits? The electrification of bicycles has been an important step for Bosch. In this endeavor, essential Bosch technologies could be resorted to. Lithium-ion batteries came from the power tools division, in the form of cordless power tools. Electric motors and advanced sensor technology were available from the automotive division. A wealth of expertise in electric and electronic engineering could also be provided. These were excellent prerequisites when Bosch launched their project in 2009. They optimized the communication between components, developed a dedicated software solution and in 2011, after extensive testing, it was time to raise the curtain on the first Bosch eBike drive system.
Enthusiasm and innovation
From the outset, everyone involved was truly enthusiastic about eBikes. To cycle with a gentle electric tailwind, to combine muscular energy and the power of an electric motor - the 'bio-electric hybrid' is enthralling. Initially, their focus was on the batteries, on the balance between size and weight and electric capacity to make a power source of this kind viable in everyday use. But Bosch did more than simply develop batteries. The eBike product lines were designed for various usage profiles. Every year, they optimize and expand their portfolio. The range went from drives for urban pedelecs to high-performance e-mountain bikes. The Nyon on-board computer was a true milestone in innovation: the move into networking eBikes.
Electrification, automation, networking
The Bosch eBike Systems portfolio is in line with the strategic principles of the Bosch Group. Electrification, automation, and networking are the future of mobility. With the eBikes, Bosch have achieved these. Automatic shifting and networking eBikes via smart phone apps and an on-line portal have opened up new possibilities. eBikes are pioneering e-mobility - and they are a big success. Other products, such as e-scooters and electric cars will follow.
Cycling infrastructure: it's now up to the political decision makers
To ensure a viable future for e-mobility, we all need certain framework conditions, such as a bicycle-friendly infrastructure, charging stations, and safe parking. These are the topics that need to be addressed by the political decision makers. Cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam are leading the way, with many others following suit. This is a truly cheering development, which is driving the renaissance of cycling.
More than 2.5 million electric bikes on German roads alone seems to indicate clearly where we are headed. In Central Europe, the mid-term projection is that one in three new bicycles sold will be an eBike. People enjoy riding eBikes. After all, eBiking is healthy, sustainable and cost-effective. And most of all, it's fun.