In a brand pivot, Jeep revealed this weekend that they are releasing an electric bike this summer! So what can we expect from this iconic off-road manufacturer?
As well as being the title of a much-loved 90’s movie, Groundhog Day is a real thing. It falls every year on 2nd February in the US and Canada.
Every year, the groundhog wakes up. If he can see his shadow, the idea goes that there will be another six weeks of winter and he goes back to hibernation. If he stays awake, then spring is coming.
Jeep decided to use Groundhog Day and the Superbowl to announce their latest release. The promo video features Bill Murray and his favorite rodent, Punxsutawney Phil. The Jeep e-bike makes just a tiny appearance, but we all noticed!
We don’t yet have a lot of detail about what the first-ever Jeep e-bike will offer. However, it is an interesting diversion for the off-road Jeep brand.
This new e-bike will be electric, and powered by QuietKat. The bike will be capable of traveling 40 miles on each charge and feature a 750 Watt electric motor. Details of the specs are vague, but this is decidedly an off-road electric bike, with 4.8″ tires designed to manage the bumpiest trails out there.
Jeep have used Fire-Link suspension to make the ride as comfortable as possible. They say:
It’s the most capable off-road electric mountain bike there is. When the road ends, your adventure continues with the all-new Jeep e-Bike.
I am really interested in why Jeep has branched out into e-bikes. Doubtless, electric motors are becoming more common, with commuters around the world switching to electric cars and ride-sharing services more and more.
However, this is not really a commuter vehicle. It harnesses the Jeep reputation for producing outstanding off-road vehicles.
E-bikes themselves have made a huge dent in the cycling market. In the UK alone, 50,000-60,000 are sold every year. That equates to about 2% of total bike sales and is expected to rise significantly.
The market potential is huge. For example, in the Netherlands 400,000 e-bikes were bought in 2018. In total, the bicycle sales market is worth €1.2 billion in the country and so there is scope for e-bikes taking over from traditional cycles in a big way.
What I think will determine the success of the Jeep e-bike is twofold:
- How much it costs
- How much it weighs
E-bikes and hybrids are preferred by commuters as they provide a cost-effective and faster way of traveling in built-up areas, but with the electric motor on hand if the rider is facing a big hill.
The problem with them is that they tend to be really heavy. Carrying an e-bike on a train is not for the lighthearted! Brands like Brompton have cornered the market with super lightweight foldable frames, but Jeep’s proposition is quite different.
Perhaps one of the most comparable offerings is the HaiBike Sduro Trekking model. This is an e-bike designed for off-roading and weighs 24kg. It takes three hours to charge but then has a range of up to 80 miles. That compares very favorably to Jeep’s 40 miles.
However, the Sduro is powered by a 250 Watt engine, whereas Jeep have a mighty 750 Watt powerhouse behind their e-bike. The Sduro costs from around £1,500, so if Jeep can provide a more powerful e-bike, without a huge jump in price tag, they might be on to a winner.
It sounds like this is a serious bike, for serious off-roaders – without serious work.