Automakers have seen the writing on the wall for the car industry, as millions of new e-bike riders opt for lighter and more efficient vehicles. Now Toyota has become the latest in a long line of automakers dipping their toes into the electric bicycle market.
Like many other automakers who have rolled out e-bikes in the past few months and years, Toyota isn’t doing it alone.
Instead, the Japanese automaker is partnering with an existing e-bike maker as part of a licensing agreement.
The e-bike manufacturer DOUZE Cycles has partnered with Toyota in France to create the DOUZE Cycles x La mobilité Toyota cargo e-bike, based on the existing DOUZE Hêta model.
The front-loading cargo e-bike can carry up to 100 kg (220 lb) of payload on its forward cargo platform.
The e-bike is powered by a Yamaha mid-drive motor and features a 500 Wh battery rated for 100 km (62 miles) of range on pedal assist.
For those that carry more precious cargo, an optional passenger bucket is available to fit three kids strapped-in up front.
In a statement that makes it hard to ignore Toyota’s long-standing anti-EV stance, Chairman and CEO of Toyota France Frank Marotte explained that the new e-bike partnership follows in Toyota’s sustainability roadmap that started with its early investment in hybrid vehicles:
“25 years ago, Toyota opened the hybrid road with the first generation of Prius, thus showing the way to decarbonization. The hybrid, of which Toyota has now become the world leader, is now at the heart of the multi-technology strategy of the brand which makes it possible to meet the specific mobility needs of each consumer. Soft and local mobility is one of these needs. It is therefore quite naturally, on the basis of a common vision, that we entered into this partnership with DOUZE Cycles, a key French player in the cargo bike market. Because of Toyota’s history in France, it seemed extremely important to us that our partner have a production site on national territory.”
Toyota has famously eschewed fully electric vehicles, instead investing heavily in hybrid vehicles that maintain a dependency on fossil fuels.
After years of opposing fully electric cars, and after replacing the company’s anti-EV CEO, Toyota may be warming up to EVs — or at least two-wheeled electric vehicles.
It seems that Toyota isn’t focusing its e-bike efforts on just France, but has also made headway in the US. A Denver Toyota dealership, seen below, has been spotted carrying Aventon’s electric bicycles.
The move is likely intended to take advantage of local e-bike incentives in the city.
Several automotive manufacturers have also jumped on the electric bicycle bandwagon in the last few years, chasing the rapidly expanding market and the low barrier to entry for lightweight two-wheeled electric vehicles.
Peugot has developed its own diverse line of e-bikes, and Spain’s SEAT previously teamed up with Barcelona-based Silence to brand its own seated and standing electric scooters.
GM developed an electric bicycle in-house, though the e-bike was unceremoniously killed off early in the COVID pandemic. Instead, GM recently showed off a HUMMER e-bike that was produced through a licensing agreement to complement the colossal and abominable HUMMER EV.
ŠKODA rolled out one of the weirdest electric bike/scooter concepts we’ve seen, though there’s no indication that it is headed for production.
Jeep has gotten into the high-power e-bike game via licensing agreements, though its similar attempt to co-develop an electric scooter was significantly less impressive.
Rivian, the electric truck and SUV maker, recently expanded its trademark to cover electric bicycles. The company has also hired top talent in the electric bicycle industry, making a move towards e-bikes even more likely.
VinFast, a Vietnamese-based electric maker, also recently showed off four interesting new e-bike models.
Swedish electric car maker Polestar has announced that it will develop its own electric bicycles.
Even motorcycle manufacturers like Harley-Davidson, Ducati and BMW Motorrad have gotten into electric bicycles and scooters, though Harley’s results and those from Ducati have been much more impressive than BMW’s.