- In response to growing demand, Panasonic will launch three new electric-assist bicycles in partnership with North American bicycle manufacturer Kent International Inc.
- Kent International's Van Dessel brand will release the mixed-terrain Passepartout Gravel e-bike and a mountain bike model named Captain Shred, powered with Panasonic batteries. Kent's Univega USA brand will release a touring e-bike featuring Panasonic's X0 motor system.
- In a press release, Reid Sigety, vice president for Panasonic’s e-bike unit, said the partnership will help the battery company expand "in response to the current tipping point we see in this mobility transformation, where the U.S. market is embracing the cycling culture now more than ever."
Panasonic has already made significant entries into the mobility space and has successfully distributed e-bike drive systems throughout Asia and Europe. According to a press release, Panasonic controls more than 40% of the e-bike drive system market share in Japan. The partnership with Kent will bring that success to the U.S., where demand for electric-assist bikes is growing.
Helped by the availability of dockless e-bike companies such as Jump and Lime in major cities, U.S. consumers are rapidly embracing electric bikes as a mobility option. Electric bikes are the fastest-growing bicycle type on the market, and in 2017 sales were up 25% over the previous year. Besides their environmental benefits, e-bikes also have a leg up because they allow riders to get around without as much effort — a factor also driving interest in electric scooters.
The rise of e-bikes is also expected to help revolutionize the supply chain sector, offering delivery companies another option to complete the last leg of a trip without driving bulky trucks through traffic. UPS, for example, announced this fall a pilot project in downtown Seattle to use e-bikes for some deliveries, returning the company to its roots as a bicycle messenger service. The growing market will drive demand for more bicycle models in different varieties, like the mountain and all-terrain styles Panasonic announced.