VANMOOF, A DUTCH bicycle-maker, is known for sleek designs and clever advertising. In a television spot for its newest model, images of the evils of car culture—accidents, gridlock and pollution—are projected onto the skin of a luxury car, which melts, turning into one of the company’s elegant e-bikes.
Electrically assisted bicycles are not about to replace cars. But they are booming, especially in Europe, where sales rose by 23% in 2019, to 3m units. E-bikes are unlocking even saturated bicycle markets like the Netherlands, where the average person already owns 1.3 pushbikes. Last year Deloitte, a consultancy, estimated the number of e-bikes worldwide at 200m, and expected it to hit 300m by 2023.
That may prove to be an underestimate now that coronavirus-wary commuters are shunning public transport and cities are expanding cycle lanes. Sales, which braked in March and April owing to supply-chain wobbles and shuttered stores, shifted into high gear when lockdowns lifted. In June revenue at Accell, Europe’s biggest bicycle manufacturer, was 53% higher than a year ago, largely thanks to e-bikes.
Big firms such as Accell and Giant of Taiwan compete with sporty brands such as America’s Cannondale and affordable city rides from QWIC. Brompton, a British maker of fancy folding bikes, has been making 10% of its £42.5m…