Electric bicycles: great for the environment and for your pocket!

Published on Tuesday, 27 February 2018

“In the first cycle of the project, we made 28 electric bicycles available to employees who work at the company’s headquarters in Niterói, in Rio de Janeiro. Over 100 people enrolled. As the demand surprised us, we are planning to expand the initiative and, who knows, also extend it to employees in Ceará and Goiás”

– Priscila de Oliveira Barbosa, Enel’s Quality of Life Department

In addition to not emitting pollutants into the atmosphere, electric bicycles can move in an autonomous way, using the energy supplied by their battery, or in the traditional way, through classic pedalling. In this way, they help the commute of both people less adept at doing exercise and those who wish to improve their physical conditioning and healthy habits.

At Enel, the Bike Sharing programme has two categories: ‘Work-life’ and ‘Free Family’. Desirée Silva, Trading Board BackOffice, opted for the first type and goes to work daily using one of the programme’s bicycles:

“I wanted to have a healthier and practical routine using the bicycle as my main means of transportation. I can confidently say my commute to and from work has become a lot more enjoyable”

– Desirée Silva, Trading Board BackOffice

Meanwhile, Aldo Pessanha, from the Regulations department, chose to use the bike to better enjoy his moments of leisure. In this category, the electric bicycle can be shared with friends and family members over the age of 18. 

“I have used it to stroll around on weekends, which has given me an indescribable sense of freedom. I already had the habit of riding a normal bicycle, but the electric bike is also great and the battery lasts a long time”

– Aldo Pessanha

Urban mobility: the differences between purchasing a motorcycle or an electric bicycle

Unfortunately, the cost of electric bicycles in Brazil is still very high. In the US, the cheapest, good quality models start around US$1,500, which corresponds to around R$5,000. This is why it is common for people to be torn between buying an electric bike or a motorcycle.

The first thing to consider is fuel. A 125cc motorcycle can run for 45km on 1 litre of petrol which, according to the ANP Price Survey for September, corresponds to an average of R$3.88.  Meanwhile, and electric bicycle (with a fully-charged battery) can run about 40km for an average cost of R$0.25 on the electricity bill.  This means that for the cost of 1 litre of petrol, you can ride a sustainable bicycle for nearly 600km more.

“Taking the same 45km journey as an example, a motorcycle emits 5.94kg of CO2, while a car with an 1.0 engine emits around 16.47kg of the pollutant. Electric bicycles have zero emissions! ”

Furthermore, when buying a motorcycle, you will need to pay annually at least three different taxes: IPVA (Tax on Ownership of Automotive Vehicles), licensing fees and DPVAT (Personal Damage Caused by Automotive Vehicles on Land Routes), the latter better known as Compulsory Insurance. At least for now, here in Brazil, electric bicycles remain free of all of these annual taxes.

Other criteria worth analysing are the maintenance and parking costs. In addition to oil changes and periodic inspections required to keep a motorcycle running well, the parts of a bicycle suffer less wear and tear and are a lot cheaper, without mentioning that an electric bike can be stored anywhere, and if you opt for a foldable model you can even keep it inside your home or office.

We obviously cannot claim electric bikes are perfect or better than motorcycles. To decide, it is important to take into account all of these factors that, in the long run, could represent big savings for those who opt for a sustainable style of commuting in large cities.

Investing in urban mobility and in a more sustainable future

Enel Group invests heavily in research and development of new technologies applied to urban mobility. In addition to initiatives aimed at the internal audience (such as the Bike Sharing project), we maintain a public car sharing system in Ceará and are official partners of Formula E, a motorsport competition for cars wholly powered by electricity.