The Future of Electric Transport

The Future of Electric Transport: Trends & Predictions

Everyone talks about e-mobility, but what does it actually mean for Australians? 

The micromobility market in Australia is going through a consistent upward trajectory. In 2020, the industry earned $16.9 million in revenue, and it is projected to grow by 89.5% in 2030

While the data looks remarkable, it is not at all surprising, especially when we consider the rising costs of car ownership. In fact, we have previously made a comparison between the costs of owning a car and the costs of buying an electric scooter, and guess which one is more cost-effective? (spoiler alert: It’s not the car. Not by a long shot.)

Aside from costs, the market growth is also attributed to these factors: convenience, flexibility, and sustainability. E-scooters and e-bikes offer a straightforward and hassle-free way to commute and navigate. For the general population, their popularity means less traffic congestion, especially in urban areas, and a reduction in carbon footprint.

With the market being dominated by e-scooters, we can see that the demand for e-mobility vehicles rises as they emerge to be highly viable modes of personal transportation.

This is the trend we’re seeing right now, but what lies ahead for electric transport? Join us as we speculate on the future of e-mobility. 

Regulation and Legislation in Australia

The legal landscape surrounding micromobility can be tricky to navigate. Relevant laws differ from state to state, and they change quite frequently. 

In Victoria, specific restrictions apply to the use of e-scooters on public infrastructure. You need to make sure that your e-scooter is not capable of exceeding 25 kph, and you can only use it on low-speed roads, shared-use paths, and bike lanes. You also need to stay within the 20 kph speed limit.

Other states, like Queensland and ACT, have similar regulations. In ACT, it is legal to use e-scooters on shared paths and footpaths, but they can’t be ridden on roads, except for residential streets with no footpath. In Queensland, riders of e-scooters must obey speed limits lower than 25 kph and must be aware of the restrictions set in place by local councils.

With these laws in place, it is hard to justify owning an e-scooter that can reach very high top speeds (say, 100 kph). 

Thus, it is not surprising to see brands like Pure Electric cap their e-scooters’ top speeds at 25 kph. It is also likely that we will witness more manufacturers taking the same approach to align with established speed restrictions.

On the other hand, as of writing, personal e-scooters remain illegal in New South Wales. However, the state has introduced E-scooter Shared Scheme Trials in specific locations, allowing people to utilise shared e-scooters provided by approved operators. 

It is encouraging to see these trials taking place, as they reflect a growing optimism that the state may eventually implement more favourable laws on the use of e-scooters. 

Indeed, it is crucial to stay informed about your state’s laws to know whether you can legally own an e-scooter or not. That said, no matter where you live, the use of any kind of e-scooter on private property is generally permitted. 

Moving Away from Car Ownership

The costs of car ownership have grown exponentially. According to consumer research company Canstar Blue, Australians spend an average of over $40,000 on a new car, while an Australian household spends $95 in fuel per week, amounting to nearly $5,000 a year.

You also need to consider other costs like interest on car loan repayments ($7,000/year), car insurance ($1,300/year), registration (between $500 and $1,500/year), and maintenance.

Factor in depreciation, and you can see why more and more people are opting to explore alternative modes of transportation.

We may also see fewer households getting second cars. Instead, they will keep their current cars and get a commuter e-scooter to go to work or perhaps an electric cargo bike for quick trips to the grocery. 

What about electric cars? 

The automotive industry has shifted away from manufacturing petrol & diesel cars and towards electric vehicles (EVs). Like the micromobility market, Australia’s EV market has also experienced significant growth in recent years.

But while electric and hybrid cars are more sustainable than their traditional counterparts, they can still be expensive to own and maintain. According to the Electric Vehicle Council, the average price of a brand new electric car is between $60,000 to $100,000 (with certain high-end brands reaching even higher price points of $300,000 to $1 million). 

And that’s just the purchase price. Based on Canstar’s survey, the average running cost of an electric car is around $1,300 per month. This does not include other expenses like insurance, registration, and maintenance.

In addition, electric cars don’t possess the distinctive advantage that e-scooters and e-bikes have. While the latter are easy to park and store, an electric car will still require a spacious garage or parking area. 

Electric cars are definitely here to stay, but there will still be a massive market for micromobility vehicles, particularly among people who are looking to save on transport costs.

The Impact of Housing Trends

The Australian housing market has experienced a downturn in recent years. As property intelligence company Corelogic points out, Australians are facing a problem with housing affordability, a concern particularly felt in major cities like Sydney and Melbourne. 

In 2018, 159.7% of the average annual household income is needed for a 20% deposit on a house in Melbourne. This figure emphasises the significant financial burden faced by potential homebuyers in the city.

Another notable trend is the shift towards high-density living is driven by the need to accommodate a larger population within the city’s limited urban space. 

As the population continues to grow, the availability of livable land in strategic locations becomes scarcer. Consequently, apartment buildings and high-rise residential structures are replacing traditional detached houses with individual garages.

At the same time, because of the lack of vacant land in urban areas, new developments are moving towards the outskirts and away from the city centres. While this provides good housing opportunities, it also brings certain challenges like longer commutes, increased travel time, and higher transport costs.

It’s painfully clear that there is a tradeoff between property size and location. What does it mean for most of us? 

If you choose to live in an urban area, you will still need a way to get around. You may have access to public transport, but it might not be convenient. You might not have enough parking space for a car, too. In such scenarios, e-scooters or e-bikes offer a time and space-efficient alternative for personal transportation. 

On the other hand, if you choose to live away from the city centres and do not want to spend a lot of money on petrol or public transport, e-mobility is the answer. 

We anticipate that more people from rural or suburban areas will be transitioning to long-range e-scooters or bikes as their preferred mode of transportation. Once this happens, we can expect brands to respond to the trend by releasing newer models designed to cover even greater distances.

What About Registration and Licensing?

While the use of e-mobility vehicles is legal in most states, it has certain limitations like the aforementioned lower speed limit and the lack of road registration. 

We don’t know for sure, but we think it’s only a matter of time before the government introduces regulations that require e-vehicles to be registered and riders to be licensed. With road registration and licensing, e-scooters and e-bikes may be subject to the same traffic rules as motorbikes and cars, including potentially higher speed limits.

We can’t help but entertain the idea that if this happens, a possible consequence could be the emergence of more powerful rides with increased top speeds. This could open up new possibilities for riders in terms of performance and capabilities.

And if the demand for e-scooters and e-bikes continues to grow, it is reasonable to expect that cities would invest in improving public infrastructure to safely accommodate these vehicles. This could include enhancements to existing bike lanes, the creation of dedicated scooter lanes, and the addition of charging infrastructure.

Final Predictions: Features and Technology

As the demand for e-scooters and e-bikes keeps rising, manufacturers need to keep up with their users’ growing needs and requirements. We predict that we will soon see these innovations as standard features in electric two-wheelers:

More Power, Speed, and Range

Manufacturers of e-scooters and e-bikes are bound to push the limits of e-mobility, so we will definitely keep seeing significant improvements in power, speed, and range in new models.

Electric scooters and bikes will continue getting equipped with more powerful motors. We are seeing this now in some models like the Segway GT 2 with a two 1500W motors and the Apollo Phantom V3 with dual 1200W motors, but sooner or later, these numbers will be the norm, not the exception.

With stronger motors, there will be more e-scooters and bikes that can cover better ranges. The Aventon Aventure.2 Step Through e-bike can already cover 96 kilometres on a single charge, and as predicted above, the move from urban to suburban or rural communities will call for more e-vehicles that can cover similar, if not longer, distances. 

As for speed, we will have to wait and see. The development of more powerful motors will certainly make way for higher top speeds, but the impact of these improvements will still depend on current regulations and enforced speed limits.

Advanced Safety Features

The addition of more powerful features should go hand in hand with more advanced safety systems. For starters, we will see sturdier e-scooters and e-bikes that are physically designed to withstand more impacts. 

We will also start seeing more models with better water resistance. The Apollo City ‘22 boasts an IP65 water resistance rating, which means you can safely ride in through light rains, but advancements in design and engineering will lead to even higher water resistance ratings in the future.

Lights and indicators will also become standard features on every e-scooter and e-bike. The Segway Ninebot G2 MAX already sports high-power front headlight and LED rear lights, a flashing brake light, and turn indicators. Manufacturers are already recognising the importance of enhanced lighting systems, and we can expect this trend to continue.

To further enhance rider safety, manufacturers also have the opportunity to integrate additional safety features present in many automobiles. Features like traction control, cruise control, and automatic emergency brakes will contribute to a safer riding experience.

Swappable Batteries

The technology of interchangeable batteries holds great potential for the future of e-scooters and e-bikes. While currently only available in a few models like the Anyhill UM2 e-scooter, it offers significant advantages for riders.

Swappable batteries are very convenient. A rider can easily swap a drained battery for a fully charged backup, which minimises downtime. 

Similarly, the user can just charge the battery instead of the entire scooter. If you have to charge your vehicle in a public place, this can prevent possible theft. This is also especially useful in situations where access to charging infrastructure is limited. 

Because of its benefits, the demand for e-scooters and e-bikes with interchangeable batteries is expected to rise.

Integrated Storage Solutions

If there’s one thing most e-scooters and e-bikes lack, it’s the capacity for storage and cargo. For some people, especially families and those who need to transport items, this could be a deal-breaker.

As micromobility becomes more popular, we will probably see more models with practical utility features. Let’s take the Aventon Abound Electric Cargo Bike for example. It comes with a rear storage rack for cargo or carriage, which makes the vehicle versatile and suitable for daily errands or small-scale logistics.

Once manufacturers acknowledge this need and storage solutions become more commonplace, we will surely see more families swapping their cars for e-mobility vehicles.

Enhanced Stability and Portability

Finally, we may also witness the emergence of more three-wheeled electric scooters and electric bikes to cater to specific demographics like the elderly or people with limited balancing skills. 

While the current electric scooters and electric bikes are already designed to be incredibly stable, three-wheeled models can offer enhanced support for those who need it.

In terms of technology, in the future, we can expect to see e-scooters with autonomous self-balancing features. This innovation would allow the scooter to automatically maintain its balance even when navigating challenging terrain, providing an added layer of safety and protection.

When it comes to portability, even though we already have quite a few lightweight e-scooters available, manufacturers will make newer models even lighter. Using light materials like carbon fibre and aluminium, these models will also likely feature ultra-sleek designs and new folding mechanisms. 

The Outlook on E-Transport

Without a doubt, electric transport is the future of public mobility, with e-scooters and e-bikes in its very heart.

More Australians are using electric scooters and electric bikes to cover first and last-mile commutes, indicating a positive trend towards sustainable mobility. But what is next? Can e-scooters and e-bikes totally replace traditional gas guzzlers? 

Our verdict is that electric scooters and electric bikes have the potential to replace cars, especially with the addition of our anticipated utilitarian features. These innovations will revolutionise e-vehicles, allowing more people to embrace the benefits of electric mobility.

But state support is integral. While the popularity of e-scooters and e-bikes is on the rise, the implementation of progressive legislation, public awareness initiatives, and the development of proper infrastructure are key to their long-term viability.

Ultimately, with the right support, electric transport will become a permanent part of the Australian transportation landscape.

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