Electric bike sales volume Japan 2016-2018

As of 2018, over 667 thousand electric power assist bicycles were sold in Japan, worth almost 55 billion Japanese yen in sales. The sales volume of 2018 indicated an increase by approximately 40 thousand units compared to the previous year. While Japan produced around 860 thousand bicycles in 2018, those figures barely covered the domestic demand. More than six million bicycles were imported into the country over the course of the same year.

What makes e-bikes popular?

The most common type among Japanese cyclists was the so called mamachari, which can be loosely translated as 'granny’s bike'. A mamachari is a general utility bicycle, particularly popular among housewives and students commuting to school or running daily errands. As of 2019, e-bikes were the third most popular bicycle type, with almost 10 percent of bicycle owners in Japan opting for the motorized version.

When electric power assist bicycles were introduced to the Japanese market, the main target group were elderly people, who benefitted from having to use less physical strength to navigate their daily life on a bicycle. In recent years however, parents of preschool children have come to rely increasingly on the practicality of e-bikes when taking their kids to day-care facilities. Generally speaking, the main benefit of motorized bicycles, such as pedelecs, is the convenience they add to everyday life, like running errands or commuting, according to e-bike owners in Japan.

While bicycles equipped with self-propulsion systems are considered mopeds in Japan and are therefore subject to compliant traffic laws, models using an electric power assisted system to support the pedaling motion fall legally under the category of bicycles. Looser regulations for certain types of e-bikes are an additional factor contributing to the success story of electric power assist bicycles in Japan.

What are the risks of electric bicycles?

E-bikes tend to be heavier and due to their build-in electric motor also faster than the average bicycle. Such factors can contribute to a heightened risk of road accidents. However, the number of accidents involving motorized bicycles decreased from over 27 thousand in 2009 to under ten thousand cases in 2018. While the majority of overall bicycle accidents were caused by road users being negligent towards the traffic situation, another common reason for (near) accidents was the usage of mobile phones, headphones or umbrellas while riding a bike.

Annual sales volume of electric power assist bicycles in Japan from 2016 to 2018

Sales volume in thousands
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Release date

February 2019



Survey time period

2016 to 2018

Supplementary notes

Data prior to 2017 come from previous reports.
Figures have been rounded.

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Statistics on "Bicycle industry in Japan"

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