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Overseas Markets Beckon for Canadian Brand Ohm

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Canadian-based Ohm Bicycles launched their electric bike line-up in 2005 with a keen eye on the North American market. But, slow uptake on the part of US and Canadian consumers has the company looking overseas and hoping to capture a bigger chunk of the European market.

Canadian-based Ohm Bicycles launched their electric bike line-up in 2005 with a keen eye on the North American market. But, slow uptake on the part of US and Canadian consumers has the company looking overseas and hoping to capture a bigger chunk of the European market.

“We’re selling bikes in Italy and Spain and looking to expand into the Netherlands market,” says Michael deVisser, founder and president of Ohm. “We’re also looking at Germany of course, and Switzerland is also top of the list. North America has been our main focus, but at the same time the market is bigger in Europe and we see big opportunities. North America is developing much slower than Europe, so it’s hard to ignore the market over there.”

Ohm currently offers two models, the urban-oriented XU700, and the XS750, designed to be suitable for all-terrain riding. Both are designed specifically as e-Bikes, rather than conventional bicycles with an electric-assist grafted on. A third model targeted for the European market will be unveiled at the 2010 Eurobike trade show. Prices start at approximately € 2800.

“It’s going to be an urban model with a smaller battery pack, making it easier to get on the bike,” says deVisser, referring to the soon-to-be-unveiled third model. “But with the new batteries coming out it will still have high capacity.”

Ohm’s e-Bikes are manufactured in Taiwan, with final assembly and battery pack installation taking place at the company headquarters in Abbotsford, British Columbia, 70 km east of Vancouver, the host city of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Another Canadian company, Bionx, supplies the battery, hub motor and controller for the electric-assist.

“We started working with them in 2005,” explains deVisser. “We were one of the first OEMs. Their system has developed over the last few years, with the North American market in mind and we liked all the features that it had. What we saw was people using e-Bikes more for recreation in North America. In Europe they are using them more for transportation. That’s another thing we liked about the Bionx, their system could be used for recreation or transportation.”

DeVisser would like to see Ohm expand beyond the pedelec category in Europe and start selling e-Bikes with a light electric motorcycle designation, although he admits the additional rules make it a challenge.
“Getting the type approval for light motorcycle is pretty difficult. There are a lot of regulations around it, but it’s a category we would like to look at. It’s a niche market, and the bikes with the higher speed actually have less torque than the slower speed models, so you don’t get that boost sensation as much, which I think people really like. The high speed motors are more designed for speed. The ultimate would be to have the low speed torque and the high(er) top speed.”

 

 

 

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