Electric bicycles facing end of dangerous road

By He Na (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-06-20 08:18
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30% of world share

Statistics from China Market Intelligence Center show that China is the world's largest producer and distributor of electric bicycles. Both its annual production and consumption account for more than 30 percent of the world's total.

In 2009, China's output of electric bicycle reached 22.2 million. A year later, the number was 29.54 million, an increase of 33 percent.

But the national standard has remained at the level set 12 years ago, when China had fewer than 50,000 e-bikes.

The economy has developed rapidly and cities have expanded, said a spokesman for China Bicycle Association who gave only his surname, Fan. "The standard should adjust with the pace of the times."

The association, businesses and consumers are hoping the ban and the March notice will be replaced with new standards that reflect current technology and market demands. They say the need is urgent.

"Twelve years ago, the majority of electric bicycle batteries were 24 volts, which could support only 10 kilometers' driving. Now, with 48-volt batteries, the bicycle can run three or four times farther. Naturally its weight will increase; 40 kg is also behind the times," said Guo Jianrong, secretary-general of the Shanghai Bicycle Association.

International standards should be taken into account "to raise the speed to 30 to 32 km/h", said Hu Gang, vice president of Xinri E-Vehicle Corp. Top speeds allowed elsewhere include 25 km/h in Europe, 31 in the United States and 24 in Japan.

Birthday surprise

Zhang Lijuan and his wife want to buy an electric bicycle for their daughter, who works in Zhongguancun, Beijing.

"Countless people drive electric bicycles," Zhang said. "How could traffic police have the energy to punish every of them in such a big city?

"My daughter often complains about the overcrowded subway and traffic jams. I think an electric bicycle is fast and convenient. Next month, for her 25th birthday, we want to give her a surprise."

Shi Yingying contributed to this report.

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