As lockdowns ease up and city dwellers look to avoid public transportation during the coronavirus pandemic, e-bike sales are flourishing. It’s surprising, then, to see a company the size of General Motors exit the business.
U.S. bike companies like Rad Power Bikes and Aventon Bikes all reported triple digit percentage growth in sales in some markets as the pandemic has reshaped city streets, according to a report from The Verge.
It’s not just the U.S. market, either. This trend has been confirmed by a number of electric bike manufacturers and retailers around the world.
Dutch e-bike manufacturer VanMoof told Electrek earlier in May that it noticed a significant rise in sales as early as March, with record-breaking online sales that were up almost 50 percent when compared to the same period in 2019.
A new report from Bike Europe found that e-bike sales significantly spiked upon the re-opening of bicycle shops in Germany. The report noted that while there was a 20 to 30 percent drop in sales in April, the loss has now nearly been all but made up with the sudden burst in sales.
The report attributes the sales boom to “customer demand changes from leisure only to daily use.”
Unfortunately, the good news is a little too late for GM. The company announced on Tuesday that it was shuttering its e-bike product known as Ariv (pronounced like “arrive”).
First announced in 2018, GM rolled out the Ariv in an attempt to broaden its market, using its experience with technology powering electric vehicles. However, according to the automaker’s latest earnings report, the coronavirus pandemic was having a negative $1.4 billion impact on its business. So Ariv became one of GM’s coronavirus casualties, along with its car-sharing service Maven.
While e-bike sales may be booming right now, Ariv was a higher-end product and the cost of entry may have limited its ability to compete, leading GM to make the decision. Prices started at around $2,500 for the entry level model. In some countries, like Belgium, the cost of the cheaper Ariv model started at more than $3,000.
While the end of Ariv may be disappointing for some, GM’s spin is that not all was lost. In a statement to The Verge, GM’s director of global innovation Brian Tossan said that “Ariv has generated significant insights about micromobility for General Motors, and we plan to use those insights to benefit future innovation.”