Merkel Wants E-Bikes Replacing Trucks for Local Freight Hauling

Aug 11, 2014 7:30 am ET

Aug. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is looking for ways to encourage electric bikes to replace trucks for local freight shipments in Germany.

The Transport Ministry has commissioned studies on the usage of bikes to haul goods that normally would be carried by trucks, the government said in a reply to questions from the Green Party. The measure may prevent traffic jams and help reduce pollution in Europe’s biggest economy.

“The German government is of the opinion that there’s a large, still unused potential for freight bicycles, also with electric support, especially in the logistics and service transport in municipalities,” it wrote.

Emissions from transportation have more than doubled since 1970 and may rise at the fastest rate of all major sources through 2070, the United Nations said in April. There are about 1.6 million electric bikes on German roads. The government is spending about 13 million euros on e-bike science and implementation projects through 2016, according to the document.

Germany was a transport pioneer when it opened Europe’s first car-only highway in 1921 in Berlin. Its free-wheeling autobahn, which often doesn’t have a speed limit, has spurred a motoring culture, helping Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen AG’s Audi and Porsche dominate the market for high-end cars.