As the monthly cost of cars skyrockets, it’s time for a better solution
Joey Skavroneck makes the case for e-bikes as a way to address concerns over travel costs and the cost of living crisis
Running a gasoline or diesel vehicle has become a financial nightmare for Americans. The average monthly car payment in May hit $712, and that figure will only rise as supply issues, the fuel crisis, inflationary pressures and the ever-present threat of a global recession persist. . Where it was once a necessity, the sad reality of this economic pressure is that operating and maintaining an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle for the next decade could be considered a luxury.
Historically, cars and the auto industry have embodied American freedom and initiative. But in today’s economic climate, an individual’s decision to use ICE vehicles, whether for commuting or recreation, will be divisive. Never before in America’s history has the once-obvious decision on how to get from A to B been made under such scrutiny.
It is important to also note the potential impact of this price increase on local businesses and economies. Commercial vehicles are a core part of the US business, with 10.6 million vehicles produced last year, but the current environment has driven the cost of the logistics approach to record highs. Some US cities saw a 40% drop in the number of commercial vehicles on the road during the 2008 recession. This could prove fatal for businesses today and, if repeated, will have an impact in itself on the economy at large.
The industry is at a transportation crossroads: individuals and businesses can no longer rely on cars and other ICE vehicles as they once did. Swapping the daily commute away from cars or vans can seem daunting, but there are alternative options that can benefit Americans in more ways than one.
The answer lies in investing in emerging transport technologies that can support smarter, more efficient and, above all, cheaper modes of transport. Disruptive technologies such as e-bikes and impressive advancements in lightweight electric vehicles (LEVs) offer modern solutions to a range of transportation needs that help reduce reliance on gas-guzzling vehicles.
These are technologies that support individuals and businesses, at a fraction of the cost, with recent adoption in the US – over 880,000 e-bikes purchased in 2021 – underscoring their benefit.
A change of mentality is needed, which recognizes a time to use the car and a time to use an LEV. Research in Germany, where adoption of e-bikes and LEVs has been high, found that individuals can save up to 90% of their monthly costs by switching from a car to a bike. Not to mention the intangible cost benefits like money saved on parking, insurance and pesky fines.
Running and maintaining an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle for the next decade could be considered a luxury
Businesses are no different. Once a flashy gadget, e-bikes have come a long way in terms of functionality and value, using advanced fleet management software to allow businesses large and small to adequately monitor, track and save. E-bikes, or any LEV for that matter, can also save businesses fuel, storage space, and a variety of other soft costs, with low barriers to entry allowing businesses to hire from a broader talent pool. In a recession, companies will increasingly focus on reducing last-mile delivery expenses, with e-bikes being the natural choice to solve this problem.
As America continues to feel a collective financial pinch, it’s important to use this time to identify new opportunities and alternatives. It’s an opportunity to review and reassess, a chance to identify long-term solutions for even the most routine aspects of everyday life, including transportation.
Modernizing the approach to transportation will lead to greater savings and support a cleaner planet. We are facing a reality where cars are becoming so expensive to run that we can no longer justify running them. For any American who wants to keep moving while saving time and money, it’s time for more investment and attention in modern, technology-driven LEVs. Mitigating the rising cost of living is just one of the reasons why this needs to happen, it really is a no-brainer.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.
Joey Skavroneck is Director, USA, at Zooomo
The Automotive World Comment section is open to automotive industry decision makers and influencers. If you would like to contribute a commentary article, please contact [email protected]