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Making eBikes More Affordable & Accessible: Incentives, Payment Plans, Loans, Subscriptions, & More

Making eBikes More Affordable & Accessible: Incentives, Payment Plans, Loans, Subscriptions, & More

April 21, 2022 | Pete Prebus

For new electric bike shoppers there can be a bit of price shock. That is of course until they realize how useful and fun riding an eBike can be!

To make the purchase of an eBike easier there are options to spread out the payments and possibly reduce the cost through incentive programs.

There are also eBike subscriptions, lending libraries, ebike shares, rentals, and research projects that can make experiencing an electric bike more economical than a full purchase.

With the growing popularity of electric bikes we will see more incentive programs and loans become available. So stay tuned for updates on all of these.

Federal Incentives

The E-Bike Act was an exciting federal incentive program in the works in 2021 with the Build Back Better Act but unfortunately it has stalled out for now. We may see this come back if the Build Back Better Act (or some version of it) goes through.

The Bicycle Commuter Act has also stalled out as part of the Build Back Better Act. The act would offer commuters up to $81/month (adjustable for inflation) in pre-tax benefits for biking, including electric bicycle costs and using bikeshare.

Hopefully we will see some progress on these this year.

State Incentives

With the federal incentives on hold for the time being, some states have or are working on their own electric bike incentive programs.

Portland State University’s Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) in partnership with People for Bikes have developed an electric bike incentive program online tracker that they are updating regularly and it is a great resource to see what is available now and what could be available in the future.

Below are the latest statewide programs as of the writing of this article.

California: CalBike is working with the California Air Resources Board to roll out $10 million in purchase incentives for electric bikes.

From CalBike “E-bikes should be the centerpiece of a strategy to replace gas-powered car trips to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions while also advancing equity, promoting public health, reducing traffic, helping families save money, and supporting local economies. Now, California has provided funding to support e-bikes.”

The program is scheduled to begin in July 2022 and they are working on additional funding for eBike incentive programs for years to come.

Additionally, the Clean Cars 4 All program is available in many areas of California for low income residents to trade in an old car for a cleaner form of transportation that includes an electric bike.

Colorado: There is a proposed Air Quality Improvement Investments bill that currently includes electric bike incentives for residents of Colorado.

Connecticut: There are 2 proposed acts for eBike incentives in Connecticut. One is a tax credit and the other is a rebate.

Massachusetts: Massachusetts has a program that has many eBike incentive options and a proposed eBike incentive act.

New York: A proposed bill in New York could provide an immediate 50% rebate on an eBike, up to $1,100.

Oklahoma: This proposed bill could provide a tax credit for an eBike purchase.

Vermont: Vermont has a lot of eBike incentives including an eBike lending library. There is also a proposed act for additional eBike incentives.

Washington: There is a proposed bill for sales tax exemption for an electric bike purchase as well as a proposed purchase subsidy.

City & County Incentives

There are a lot of cities and counties that have or may have eBike incentives. Below are some incentive program highlights:

Denver, CO: Denver residents can apply for a $400 instant rebate before purchasing a qualifying electric bike (e-bike) from a participating bike shop. Income-qualified residents may qualify for a $1,200 instant rebate. E-cargo bikes are eligible for an additional $500 instant rebate.

Corvallis, OR: Corvallis has a very strong incentive program for lower income residents that is up to a $1,200 rebate.

Make sure you check the TREC eBike incentive tracker that has information on the following city programs (as of this posting):

California: San Francisco Bay Area, Eureka, Healdsburg, Roseville, Santa Clara, Contra Costa County, Monterey Bay, Mountain View, San Diego County, San Gabriel Valley, San Mateo County, Santa Cruz, Sonoma Country, South Coast Area (including LA).

Colorado: Boulder County, City of Boulder, Denver, Durango, Glenwood Springs, Edwards Metro District, Granby, Gunnison, Pueblo County, Avon.

Kentucky/Ohio: Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati

Massachusetts: Boston, Cape Cod & Martha’s Vineyard, Springfield and other Gateway Cities, Worcester.

Michigan: Ann Arbor

New York: The Bronx and Brooklyn.

Oregon: Ashland, Corvallis.

Texas: Austin.

Vermont: Burlington, Colchester + Surrounding Areas, Stowe, VPPSA Serviced Area, Washington Electric Service Area.

Washington: Seattle.

eBike Payment Plans

There are payment plan options available on some electric bikes to help spread out the cost to make it more affordable over time.

For instance, Denago electric bikes have the Affirm payment plan that offers 3, 12, or 18 month payment plans.

eBike Loans

Some banks and credit unions offer low interest rate unsecured loans that can be used for an electric bike purchase.

For instance, there is a credit union in Vermont that has a very favorable electric bike loan for as low as 0%!

Check with your bank or credit union on their latest loan products.

eBike Subscriptions

We have subscriptions to a lot of services these days but did you know that you can have an electric bike subscription?

For instance, Zoomo is offering eBike subscriptions in Boston, Chicago, New York, Jersey City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Toronto.

For a weekly rate you get a Zoomo electric bike plus repairs and support for things like a flat tire and more. You can cancel the subscription at any time. This could be a good option to test the electric bike lifestyle.

Zoomo also caters to delivery workers (Door Dash, Uber Eats, etc.) so they can keep their costs low and/or slowly purchase the bike in weekly payments.

eBike Loaner Programs

Another option is to borrow an electric bike to see if you want to buy your own.

Pedal Ahead: In San Diego residents can apply to the Pedal Ahead program to borrow an electric bike. If they complete the 2 year term of tracking and sharing their rides (average of 5 miles) each day for an eBike study they can qualify to keep the electric bike. If they end up with less than 5 miles a day over the 2 year period they can buy the electric bike at a prorated amount.

EZBike Project: If you live in the Santa Barbara, CA area you can borrow an electric bike for free for an hour up to a long weekend to really get a feel for eBiking. EZBike Project also has organized fun rides that visit some of the local sites, restaurants, and other happenings.

eBike Share: If you live in a town or city that has an electric bike share program this can be a great way to rent an electric bike for a short amount of time to zip around town. It is a low cost way to get a feeling for what eBiking around your town is like.

eBike Rentals: Some local bike shops have electric bike rental fleets for hourly or daily rentals. Like the eBike share programs, an electric bike rental can be a great way to explore your town or a town you are visiting. And if you decide to buy an electric bike some shops will apply the rental price to the cost of buying a new eBike.

Stay Tuned

A number of these programs have recently started or are soon to start and we will probably see more programs like these to make eBiking more accessible and affordable for all.

Stay tuned for news on incentive and loan programs in your town/city and continue to check the TREC eBike incentive tracker for updates.

Enjoy your rides!

-Pete