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Subscription model making e-bikes more affordable

New Zealand’s e-bike market is growing fast, but the bikes are expensive. Now a small Auckland-based company has found a way to make e-bikes more accessible.

Our love affair with e-bikes has taken off in the last two years. There are currently an estimated 40,000 e-bikes in the country, of which a massive 85 percent have been imported in the last two years.

The problem is e-bikes are expensive. The cheapest will set you back $2000. An average bike will cost around $4000 and a more deluxe model could be as much as $8000.

Now Big Street Bikers, a social enterprise founded in 2017 by techie Andrew Charlesworth and adman Matt Weavers, is trying to make e-bikes more affordable.

Their answer: selling e-bikes on subscription. For $30 a week for two years (no more than the average person’s weekly transport budget, according to Weavers), anyone can own an e-bike, he says.

“Cheaper than the bus, faster than the traffic, better for your booty.”

Weavers and Charlesworth have also set up a e-bike charging station in an old shipping container at Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour. Here people can hook up their bike to the solar panels, get repairs, find stickers or a helmet, or buy a drink at the BSB clubhouse.

“The plan is to have at least a couple more [full-service] recharging stations in Auckland by next summer, potentially three,” says Weavers. He also wants to set up smaller, unmanned bike charge stops in other parts of the city, before expanding the business into Queenstown, Wellington and Christchurch.

“Cheaper than the bus, faster than the traffic, better for your booty.”

Last year, 20,000 e-bikes were imported into New Zealand, 43 percent more than in 2016, according to Statistics New Zealand. The popularity of e-bikes is mirrored through the increase in the number of cyclists. The number of cycling trips in November 2017 had increased by 20 percent from November 2016, and Auckland Transport says more than 1,000 new cyclists take to the streets every month.

The fast-growing global e-bike market is forecast by some analysts to be worth $24.3 billion in revenue by 2025.

Weavers says “Our goal is to get 10,000 of our e-bikes on the road by 2020 and to make Auckland a better place.”

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