Wednesday 21 April 2021

E-bike owners caught out by high cost of new batteries

Buyers of e-bikes fail to take into account additional costs such as renewing the battery, the cyclists’ association Fietersbond has warned.

Electrically enhanced bicycles are becoming increasingly popular even though they cost €1,800 on average, twice as much as a pedal-powered bike. The batteries have an average life of three to five years and cost around €500 to replace.

‘When your battery dies out you’re forced to buy a new one from the same supplier, because every make of bike has its own type,’ Fietsenbond spokesman Kees Bakker told the Volkskrant. ‘It’s another way of making a profit.’

Hans de Looij, bicycle expert for the motorists’ association ANWB, said batteries could last for seven years if owners looked after them. ‘Some people store their bikes away for the winter in a cold shed and don’t look at them for months. A battery won’t survive that.’

But he agreed that manufacturers made a handsome profit on new batteries. ‘If an e-bike is five years old the battery is worth more than the bike itself. That’s a strange detail.’

The ANWB said it is looking at whether it is feasible to recondition batteries so owners don’t have to keep buying new ones. It plans to publish a list of companies that specialise in reviving old batteries, which could save owners €250 compared to the cost of a new one.

Huub Schellen, of bicycle manufacturer Accell Nederland, said the high cost of batteries was justified. ‘A bike weighs 100 to 150 kilos with its battery and rider. The technology is expensive.’

He added that manufacturers had differently shaped batteries to suit different designs. ‘Car batteries are located under the bonnet, but on a bike the battery is built into the frame. That’s why batteries are specific to the model. Every manufacturer makes a different bike.’

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