Cargo Bike

When your Sink is Delivered in a Cargo Bike

Almost 40,000 electric cargo bikes were sold in Germany last year. This is much more than in the previous year. However, a number of measures are still needed to ensure that cargo bikes can develop their full potential. 

The official “company vehicle” of the heating engineer, Simon Eisenhard, has 250 watts and about 0.3 hp. The rest, he has to do himself. "This helps me to reduce stress," says the 39-year-old, who also has no problems finding a parking space - the technician from Stuttgart rides an electric cargo bike.

He is therefore completely in line with the newest mobility trend. According to figures published by the German Zweirad-Industrie-Verband (ZIV), about 40,000 electric cargo bikes were sold in Germany in 2018 - approximately 80 percent more than in the previous year. Although this is only a very small segment, it is one that is growing stronger and stronger, says ZIV spokesman David Eisenberger. The sales figures for cargo bikes, especially those with electric motors, are also on a "steep climb", according to the Eurobike bicycle trade fair, which opens its doors on Wednesday in Friedrichshafen. This year, far more exhibitors are dedicating themselves to this very topic.

There were several reasons for Simon Eisenhard to buy an electric cargo bike. "Parking was a major reason," he explains. But there was also the risk of driving bans and the search for more sensible alternatives to cars. "If you want to convert your bathroom, I don't need to use my large company car," explains Eisenhard - especially if the traffic situation is bad. "That also costs a lot of nerves."

Cargo bikes are not that much slower than cars in cities, says Johannes Gruber from the Institute for Transport Research at the German Aerospace Center. This is shown in a study in which he was involved. For distances of up to three kilometres, the journey times are roughly the same; for distances of up to 20 kilometres, cargo bikes often only need a few minutes more.


Purchases are Subsidized by the State

Gruber is the head of Europe's largest public cargo bike testing program. Companies throughout Germany try out cargo bikes - mainly with electric motors. Participants are interviewed via an app and their routes recorded. According to Gruber, about 800 testers will have taken part by the end of the year. 150 cargo bikes are simply not enough for all interested parties. "We basically have a high demand from small and micro enterprises." About every fifth applicant is a craftsman. According to Gruber, almost a third of all companies buy a cargo bike after the test.


Simon Eisenhard has received 2000 euros from the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Transport for his e-cargo bike. Since mid-2017, it has supported more than 1600 electric bikes for companies, freelancers and local authorities. This includes architects, bakers, restaurateurs, horticulturists and nursing services. According to the ministry, the programme was very well received. The federal government and other states have similar support programmes. Since March 2018, for example, the Federal Ministry for the Environment has supported around 170 cargo bikes, trailers and carriages. However, this subsidy is aimed at heavy goods vehicles with a payload of at least 150 kilograms. The Ministry expects demand to grow.


Stefan Rickmeyer can likewise report a rising demand: "It doubles from year to year." His company in Nehren, Swabia, has been producing electric load wheels for around 14 years. He currently sells about 800 wheels a year. His customers mainly include delivery staff such as DPD and Hermes, but also plumbers, pizza restaurants or interior architects. He even sold a cargo bike to a car service company - as a replacement vehicle.

Small repairs, maintenance work or meetings with customers - this is when Simon Eisenhard uses his electric cargo bike. "I've even taken a sink with me once." But there are certain limitations: With a loading capacity of up to 45 kilograms and for distances of approximately 16 kilometers, he rides the electric cargo bike. "It doesn't always make sense. He uses a car for two thirds of his journeys.

In order for bikes to develop their true potential, the Allgemeine Deutsche Fahrrad-Club (ADFC) demands not only strong support but above all more space for bicycles in cities. For example, wide cycle paths on which bicycles and cargo bikes can overtake each other.

After around 15 months and more than 1900 kilometres with an electric cargo bike, Simon Eisenhard draws a positive conclusion: "It is definitely a gain.


Read the original article in German here: