Tesla and Elon Musk are two names that are almost never out of the headlines. The former has been made a household name through the hard work and aggressive investment of the latter.
Without a doubt, Musk has helped to create a world where electric cars have been seen as a viable option for transportation and he promises to do the same for heavy goods vehicles in the not too distant future as well.
In many countries around the world, the sight of a Tesla on the roads is no longer a novelty and these futuristic-looking cars can be found in their droves parked in Tesla dealerships.
The company has been somewhat slower to enter the African market, but it has finally done it. In late 2021, Tesla began setting up Supercharger stations and service stations in Morocco. This was followed by the opening of a South African office that began operating in January 2022, though it had a modest start with just a single employee.
Following Tesla’s success, other companies have really stepped up their efforts in the electric vehicle space. Just about every major brand in the market has committed to eventually transitioning to all-electric vehicles within the next decade or so. Putting their money where their mouths are, almost all of them have already launched EVs and hybrids.
But these aren’t the only electric vehicles that are making their way onto our streets. There are some forms of transport that are also being revolutionised by motors and lithium-ion batteries.
E-Bikes and E-Scooters
If you live in a big city, you will have almost certainly come across people whizzing around on an e-scooter. With a similar style to the folding scooters of the 2000s, these futuristic machines are a lightweight but efficient way of getting around town.
Close behind them in prevalence is the e-bike, a pedal cycle that also contains an electric motor that drives one of the wheels. This allows riders to use less effort and energy to ride around but still enjoy the benefits that come with a bicycle.
An EV Revolution
These smaller and more affordable machines are proving to be incredibly popular. As more and more people understand the need to reduce their carbon emissions and improve their own health and fitness, electric bikes and scooters are becoming increasingly attractive.
Previously, the problem with cycling in big cities was that you’d arrive at work as a big sweaty mess or you’d have to ride so slowly that it would take too long. E-bikes and e-scooters resolve this problem by taking away some, but not all, of the work.
They also help relieve congestion and save money since they are also significantly cheaper to buy and run.
Hurdles to Overcome
As with electric cars, these other EVs still face some challenges before they can become suitable for everyone. Some of these hurdles are technological, some are environmental, but some are also cultural.
Changing the culture will lead to the changes being made to the built environment, so this is an important area that EV brands need to address if they want to grow their market.
Right now, the problem is that cycling is not the norm in many countries, so general road etiquette has evolved to favour cars and pedestrians. This is not unusual, we need etiquette to help us navigate through life more easily.
For example, when you’re in a library, there are well-understood social norms that require you to be quiet and respectful so that other people can enjoy the books that they’re reading in peace. Similarly, casinos also have a set of general dos and don’ts that all players follow. This includes respecting and tipping the dealer and refraining from asking for strategy advice from other people at the table.
For cyclists, the current road rules and etiquette require them to behave like cars, despite the fact that they don’t have the size, speed, power, or safety features of a car. In countries like the Netherlands, where infrastructure changes have led to cultural changes too, cyclists have their own separate paths, lights, and other infrastructure.
It’s made it possible for millions to think of their bike first rather than their car, even for tasks like grocery shopping and visiting friends.
These changes are coming though. Slowly, but surely, nations around the world are waking up to the benefits of these more active forms of transport and attitudes towards them are changing, ushering in a real revolution for EVs.