The Rise of E-Mobility

A growing number of powersports dealers are becoming destinations for “e-fun.”

The news reports are peppered with topics like mobility, e-mobility and even micro mobility. What the heck happened to just getting out there and riding?

It’s hard to keep up with the changes, but in the U.S. and worldwide, we’re becoming a more urban society with more young people and seniors living near the centers of large cities. With that move, an automobile is often cumbersome for driving and expensive for parking. That’s pretty good news for people who love motorcycles right? Yes! Motorcycle dealers have an opportunity not only be a transportation solution but will get credit for putting some “fun” into urban “mobility.” But it doesn’t have to stop with motorcycles.

In towns across the country, big and small, two- and four-wheeled e-recreation is becoming more visible, more accessible and more fun. The world loves outdoor recreation these days, and because of that, protecting the planet has taken an even higher profile. E-mobility is part of this trend.

What does that mean? Bicycle riders love their bicycles, and more people are joining them with e-bikes. That kid down the street with his skateboard has lots of other people around him — some on electric skateboards — who are using them to commute to work or shred some trails. The neighbor who got frustrated renting scooters just bought her own scooter, and now she has reliable and fun transportation for her trips around town. E-power products are opening the door to recreation and transportation opportunities we’re never had before.

If you question whether this e-mobility movement is real, guess who owns Spin electric scooters? It’s the same company that built your F-150 pickup. Electric scooters are serious fun, but the movement is real business.

For powersports dealers, this is an opportunity. “Dealers looking for additional revenue should embrace a world that has motorcycles, along with bicycles and a whole range of electric-powered vehicles, because those are the products in our customer’s garages,” says Marc McAllister of Tucker Powersports.

The top powersports distributors in the U.S. have e-bikes in their product lines, but that’s just the tip of the spear as far as opportunity is concerned. With increased use of e-power products all over the country and more choices in what to buy, customers are looking for the right retailer to help them find the perfect products for their needs.

Early-adopter dealers are finding new customers in the store — from young teenagers to all ages of adults.  This is a well-researched customer that’s looking for high-end products, not a mail-order unit from China. With the right product presentation and well-trained sales staff, a dealership is the absolute best place to shop for a high-value e-power vehicle.

So what’s happening in the electric powersports world? Crazy innovation and outstanding growth, especially in the U.S. The U.S. is 30% of the world’s electric skateboard market. Electric scooters are growing in sales at a rate of over 13% per year and will be a $30 billion-market by 2026. And the electric bicycle market is expected to grow 78% by 2026.

How do you get in on the fun? There are so many ways for consumers and dealers to join in.

E-bicycles open the door for huge numbers of people who are discovering that steep hills and long distances are of no concern with the right e-bike. The products range from high-end mountain bikes to rider-friendly commuter bikes. E-bike customers are looking for high-quality components and range (distance on a single charge) that meets their needs.

The next step up from e-bikes are electric adventure vehicles (EAVs), which deliver greater load capacity and faster speeds for both adventure and utility use. These workhorse units are perfect for the farmer or rancher who needs easy, fun transportation and the ability to haul tools and equipment across a variety of terrain. For the adventurer, hunter-gatherer or eco-tourist, there are both on-road and off-road models that let the rider strap on camping gear, fishing equipment, or a surfboard, so the fun doesn’t end when arriving at a destination. Since these units are workhorses for many users, some of the high-demand features are an easily removeable battery (for quick changes) and two-wheel drive.

E-scooters are smile-generating fun with serious performance. The retail models in dealerships are far more feature-packed than the ones consumers rent on the street corner. These are the Lamborghinis of the scooter world and come in both on-road and off-road versions. Some models feature full suspension, built-in LED lights and a high-performance electric motor. There are lots of options for consumers here, and the value of a well-trained dealer staff is immense. Customers should be looking for solid construction and LED lighting, along with wheels and suspension to match where and how they will ride. Larger customers will want to make sure they choose a scooter build to handle a plus-sized rider.

Electric skateboards exude high performance and thrills for the rider. With carbon-fiber boards for performance on and off-road to bamboo boards for responsive handling, these long board-style units do everything a regular skateboard can, but when you add power via the hand-held remote control, they make every road and every surface a fun place to ride. Customers will likely want a test ride, so dealers should consider have a demo unit or two in the store.

Our advice to consumers: Check out these great products at a dealership where you can connect with well-trained staff and service experts. Take a test ride and see what product and what level of performance is right for you. And be prepared to meet new friends, as the e-fun world is rapidly growing with users of all ages.

And for dealers: It’s time to consider getting in the game. Find the right products for your market, and make a commitment to be the best place for a customer to go to engage in this new type of e-powered fun. Train your employees, find some dedicated retail space, and give it a try.

Steve Piehl spent 35 years at Harley-Davidson, with roles in customer experience, communication and business development. He started the Harley Owners Group and in 2012 was inducted into the Sturgis Museum’s Hall of Fame. After retiring from Harley-Davidson in 2015, Piehl launched his own marketing consulting firm, Authentic CX, which works with several companies in the industry, including Tucker Powersports, Vance & Hines, KIRSH Helmets, Monimoto and several others. He currently serves as a national ambassador for the All Kids Bike program and is a former board member of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

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