Around the world: Cargo bicycle and electric bicycle grants and incentives

— Grants range from €100s to €1,000s in different locations.

Supports vary from country to country and in some cases from city-to-city, but most systems apply to general electric bicycles and cargo bicycles (often non-electric versions too).

Where electric bicycles are mentioned in this article, it mostly means pedal-assisted bicycles (otherwise known as pedelecs or e-bikes). Rules on electric bicycles also vary from country to country, in Europe the bikes are mostly confined to cut out at 25km/h or if the user stops moving their legs, thus pedal-assisted.

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Here’s an overview of the grants and supports in different countries:

Austria 

City of Vienna has had cargo bike grants since 2017, and in 2020 it was expanded to with a €800,000 fund. It started with a general grant of up to €800 for cargo bicycles and €1,000 for electric cargo bicycles for individuals and businesses.

Austria now has a nationwide grant system of up to €1,000 for all cargo bikes. Interestingly €150 of this is to be paid by the seller/importer.

For businesses, Vienna now offers grants including a maximum of 50% of the eligible costs up to a maximum of €2,000 per electric cargo bike or per electric cargo trailer on cargo bicycles that can carry a payload of 40 to 100 kg. And for electric cargo bikes with a payload of more than 100 kg a maximum of 30% of the eligible costs up to a maximum of €4,000 per electric cargo bike or per electric cargo trailer.

Canada

The province of British Columbian offers a $750 electric bicycle grant under its wider scrappage scheme for qualifying cars, which includes all cars before 2001 and nearly all newer cars except electric cars and a select few others.

For businesses, the online system in British Columbia shows the range of cargo bicycles available and classes them as “Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)”. The ‘Specialty Use Vehicle Incentive Program’ allows for rebates of up to $1,700 for cargo bicycles.

France

As part of a Climate Bill, national legislators have pushed forward what has become a €1,500 scrappage grant (originally reported as €2,500) where owners of older cars are able to hand over an ageing car in return for an electric bicycle. The grant is for up to €1,500 to a value of up to 40% of the bicycle. It applies to diesel cars or vans first registered before 2011 or petrol versions first registered before 2006.

In a reflection of more powerful local government, there are city and regional-level grants in France. These vary in different areas ranging from €100 to €1,150. For example, Île-de-France, Paris’s regional government, offers a grant of €500 while in areas the local grants are often capped around €150-200.

For people on taxable incomes of €13,489 or less, the national government will mirror the lower-level local grants — ie if you get approved for a local grant of €200, the national government will give you another €200, which is the cap for this support. It is also capped at 40% of the cost of the bicycle. This can be used on top of the scrappage grant.

There is also a national level of grant for electric or non-electric cargo bicycles or bicycle trailers for people earning up to €13,489 for up to €1,000 in supports, and this does not require you to apply for a local grant.

The main source of information in this section was from translations of French government websites.

Finland

Finland offers a scrappage scheme where €2,000 can be put towards an electric car or €1,000 “may instead be used for purchasing a new electric bicycle, a season ticket for public transport, or a mobility service that includes the right to travel by public transport.”

Finland had proposed a grant scheme of €400 per electric bicycle but as local media reported “Support for electric bikes provokes a strong backlash in the Coalition Party” due to claims of “market distortions” despite the fact the plan for was an expansion of an already in place electric vehicle grant.

England

For businesses and organisations directly in England, Energy Saving Trust notes that £400,000 has been made available in 2021/22 for the purchase of e-cargo bikes “to support businesses switching to a sustainable transport solution”. Funding covers “up to 40% of the total cost of an e-cargo bike, up to a maximum of £2,500 for two-wheel models and £4,500 for three-wheel models”, with a general cap of 5 bicycles per organisation.

Back in May, The Guardian reported that the UK government was planning an “opportunity to try” model, and how a similar scheme in Switzerland is credited for a Swiss e-bike boom but progresses seems to have stalled since.

Germany

In Germany grants vary from city-to-city. The city of Tübingen offers just €100 grants via a local power company, while Munich, for example, offers 25% of the net costs up to a maximum of €1,000 for electric cargo bikes and grants are open to individuals, companies, non-profit organisations and even apartment owners’ associations.

In Hamburg, a €700,000 fund for cargo bicycles was depealted within a half hour of it opening in September last year. It includes €2,000 for electric cargo bikes and €500 for standard cargo bikes.

In Berlin, aimed at businesses is a grant of “1,000 euros for a cargo bike without an electric motor, 2,000 euros for a cargo bike with an electric motor and 500 euros for a bicycle trailer.”

In most places that offer scrappage schemes it is aimed at removing older cars but in Stuttgart it is intended for anyone who intends to “permanently take a registered/insured two‐stroke two‐wheeler out of service” with an electric bicycle grant of €300.

Ireland

Currently supports for electric bicycles and cargo bikes for individuals is limited to the Cycle to Work tax scheme for employees. The scheme has no upper limit on bicycle which can be purchased but the amount under the tax incentive was raised last year to €1,250 for non-electric bicycles and €1,500 for pedal-assist electric bicycles.

This means people using the scheme are still paying full tax on the price above €1,250 and €1,500 respectively for cargo and electric bicycles.

The Cycle to Work scheme is also a tax incentive scheme that can only apply to people working under the PAYE system where their employer agrees to administer the scheme. It benefits higher-income workers the most and excludes a wide range of people including causal workers, retirees, carers, homemakers, teenagers, most students etc.

Lithuania

As part of its climate plan, a scrappage scheme was launched last year where “residents will be able to receive up to 310 euros in compensation for an annual public transport ticket, up to 1 thousand. for an electric moped or electric motorcycle, up to EUR 700 for an electric bicycle, up to EUR 400 for an ordinary bicycle or electric scooter.”

Luxembourg

Not unusually is the up to 50% of the cost of the vehicle is covered, but the grant is a simple €600 including a “bicycle or a new electrically assisted pedal bicycle”, without any apparent restriction on the bike being electric or a cargo bike.

Portugal

Portugal offers up to €350 grants for electric bikes. And for cargo bikes, up to €500 conventional and up to €1,000 electric. In both cases up to 50% of the price. and there’s a limit of one for individuals and four for business.

Norway

In 2019 the national government said it would offer climate funding to local governments to administer grant schemes.

The funding would include up to 50% of the cost to a maximum of NOK 15,000 (€1,516) per ordinary bicycle, and a maximum of NOK 25,000 (€2,527) per cargo bicycle — the amounts are larger than most places and includes equipment such as locks, helmets and studded tires.

As a requirement, municipalities must have a scheme for maintenance. For “try electric bikes” projects, where “the public can test whether electric bikes are suitable for them, the municipality can also apply for support for the operation of the scheme and maintenance of the bikes”.

Scotland

In Scotland, since 2018, interest-free loans with no administrative fees are offered by Transport Scotland via the Energy Saving Trust for cargo bicycles and electric bicycles. These loads are repayable over 4 years and can be for up to 2 e-bikes capped at £3,000 each, 1 family cargo bike capped at £6,000, or 1 adapted cycle with the value assessed on a case-by-case basis.

There is also a business version of the loan capped at £30,000 funded by Transport Scotland for the same types of bicycles and individual bicycle caps apply, ie an electric bicycle cannot exceed £3,000 each, or cargo bikes cannot exceed £6,000.

In terms of businesses and organisations, in Scotland, the Energy Saving Trust notes that “Transport Scotland has committed a further £900,000 towards the eBike Grant Fund in 2021/22″. This is aimed at groups and businesses with offers up to £25,000 towards “projects that will provide opportunities to their communities to trial e-bikes” and “up to £200,000 per application towards large-scale fleets of pool bikes or public bikeshare/hire schemes and promoting large scale uptake of bikes”. The Department of Transport in Ireland has funded some testing schemes for businesses via councils, but so-far that seems at a smaller scale.

Switzerland

Cargo bicycles can be purchased with a subsidy of up to 500 francs (€474), to a maximum of 10% of the price. This is for both individuals and businesses, with a limit 15 bikes per business.

Cantons can contribution to rental costs of electric bicycles in a try-it-before-you-buy-it scheme up to CHF 250 (€237). This also applies to the cost of long-term rentals of cargo bicycles, services offered by a limited number of companies, to a maximum of 50% of the price.

Sweden

The scheme in Sweden which covered 25% of the purchase price was stopped in 2019. But industry publication Bike Europe reported that, after a few years of operation, “After the scheme stopped the sale of electric bicycles did not collapse, but remained unexpectedly high. It makes clear that Sweden is to be ranked among the largest e-bike countries within Europe.”

United States

Austin, Texas: Austin Energy, a city of Austin service, offers grants of up to “$300 per E-Ride vehicle for individuals” and “$400 per E-Ride fleet vehicles” to Austin Energy customers. The fleet option is open to businesses and groups planning on running a fleet of between 5 to 25 electric bicycles.

California: CalBike, a campaign group, with others lobbied for a $10M “E-Bike Affordability Campaign” fund — most of the results of which is due to launch next July after being delayed due to the pandemic.

Part of the programme is an expansion of the State’s scrappage scheme, for residents within the federal low-income guidelines, to include bicycles with “$7,500 toward the purchase of an e-bike or bike share program in exchange for their gas-powered vehicle”.

According to CalBike, “Program participants can use the funds to buy multiple e-bikes for their family or split the funds between clean mobility transit modes.” Some California counties also have grants, ranging from $150 to $1,000.

Vermont: There are grants via energy companies, Green Mountain Power and Burlington Electric Department. Via a credit union, you can get loans with a 0% interest rate for households with an income below $78,600 and there is also an “E-bike Lending Library” to try before you buy.

ALSO SEE: Money for bikes: Tax incentives and purchase premiums for cycling in Europe

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