In China, electric bicycles are leaving cars in the dust. Last year, Chinese bought 21 million e-bikes, compared with 9.4 million autos. While China now has about 25 million cars on the road, it has four times as many e-bikes. Thanks to government encouragement and a population well versed in riding two wheels to work, the country has become the world’s leading market for the cheap, green vehicles, helping to offset some of the harmful effects of the country’s automobile boom. Indeed, as engineers around the world scramble to create eco-friendly, plug-in electric cars, China is already ahead of the game. Says Frank Jamerson, a former GM engineer turned electric-vehicle analyst: “What’s happening in China is sort of a clue to what the future will be.”
… E-bikes that are basically pedal-powered machines with an electric boost are common in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, but e-scooters with heavier motors and top speeds of around 30 mph, fast enough to rival mopeds, are growing in popularity. The e-bike boom owes much to Chinese policy. The government made developing e-bikes an official technology goal in 1991. Major Chinese cities have extensive bicycle lanes, which means riders can avoid the worst of rush-hour congestion.