E-bikes slowly gaining traction in Finland as gov't considers subsidies

Electric bikes are becoming more popular across Europe, but Finland has lagged behind the trend. That could change if proposed subsidies are introduced.

A two hundred watt electric motor, electronics, a detachable battery: cycling equipment like this is becoming ever more common on the city streets of Finland - writes yle.fi.

Hardcore winter cyclist Pasi Haapakorpi, of Oulu, says that even cold weather e-bike usage is easy enough.

"In the winters cycling can be a little harder," said Haapakorpi. "Then there's nothing for it but to turn on the power and get moving."

Haapakorpi cycles several kilometres each day, and says that winter use of an electric bike doesn't cause any more hassle than use of a normal bike in the city. The most important factors are to change to winter tyres and to keep and de-ice the bike indoors when it's very cold.

Only the battery demands extra care when it gets below freezing point, as it gets much less effective in the colder temperatures.

"It's important to remember to take it inside when it's cold," said Haapakorpi. "The cold can run down the battery when its running too, but especially if it's left outside."

Pasi Haapakorpi of Oulu uses his e-bike every day. Image: Paulus Markkula / Yle

Haapakorpi therefore recommends testing the battery to see how easily it can be detached from the frame of the bike, as some mountain bike models don't have easily detachable batteries.

Batteries are the most expensive part of an electric bike, and depending on capacity can cost from a few hundred to more than a thousand euros.

Haapakorpi says his battery cost around 700 euros, with the motor coming in at 700 euros on top of that.

"If you want a good bike as well, you should invest another 600-700 euros on top," said Haapakorpi.

That price issue is a key factor in the relatively slow adoption of electric bikes in Finland. Whereas in Germany e-bikes make up 15 percent of bike sales , in Finland the figure for 2016 was less than one percent .

According to Matti Koistinen of the Finnish cycling association, e-bikes are slowly becoming more common.

"We are reaching a point where everyone will know somebody with an e-bike," said Koistinen. "When you can ask an acquaintance for tips, and there are more e-bikes about, the market will take off."

Ministry plans subsidies

There could also be state support on the way, with the government considering similar subsidies to those on offer for electric cars.

The Transport Ministry has a proposal on the advancement of walking and cycling which is currently out for consultation. The proposal recommends subsidies totalling some three million euros to be introduced by 2019.

Koistinen would like to see Finland follow the example of Sweden, where some 35 million euros has been allocated to help consumers buy electric bikes. Keen cyclists there can get up to 25 percent of the cost of a new electric-power assisted bicycle.

The amount proposed by Finland is, according to the cycling lobby, too small.

"There won't be enough money for everyone," said Koistinen. "In practice only the quickest would get it, the rest would be left without."

Even so, Koistinen says it's probably not worth delaying the investment in the hope of bigger subsidies. A 250 watt motor is a durable and practical purchase that could be a good alternative to buying a second car, for example.

"This kind of cycle doesn't require insurance and maintenance is a lot cheaper than for a car," said Koistinen. "In addition, e-bikes are quicker in urban settings when there's a lot of traffic."

According to Koistinen, widespread e-bike adoption would have other important benefits, including to public health and the fight against climate change, as well as making road maintenance cheaper and easier.

Read more news of Helsinki on our site.

E-bikes Finland
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

The coach of a sports club in Hyvinkää, southern Finland has been remanded into police custody on suspicion of sexual abuse of minors he was coaching, the Itä-Uusimaa police department said on Thursday. Officials said that they are investigating the case as suspected child abuse but did not disclose the ages of the alleged victims. The suspect in the case, a 50-year-old man, was remanded into custody on Wednesday. The suspected sexual abuse is believed to...
Finns increasingly forego do-it-yourself construction of prefab elements in favour of completely completed homes. Turnkey homes (where homes are fully finished and owners can immediately occupy them) have become more popular than traditional house packages, says the Finnish Association for Manufacturers of Prefabricated Houses. “About 7,500 detached homes are built in Finland every year, and about 70 percent of them are prefabricated houses of some kind,”...
THE FESTIVE ATMOSPHERE in the Helsinki neighbourhood of Arabianranta was visibly subdued on Tuesday, as residents mourned the death of a local child who is believed to have been murdered. While little information has been released to the public, it is known that the victim was murdered near their home on the night of Christmas Eve (December 24). The police apprehended a suspect at the scene of the crime, who has been confirmed as a 36-year old male. Whethe...
One of Finland’s most famous seafaring vessels, the titanic icebreaker Otso, was deployed on its first mission of the winter season last night, keeping sea routes open for the 22nd year in a row. Late in the evening of Christmas Day, Otso, the crowning glory of Arctia Oy’s extensive fleet, departed from Helsinki’s Katajanokka Harbour, heading north to the Bay of Bothnia. The 7000-ton Polar icebreaker has been tasked with keeping waterways open between Oulu...
Eight Finnish political parties have published their a statement on future climate policy goals in Finland. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) in November invited all nine parliamentary parties to join a task force established to find an agreement on new, more ambitious climate goals for Finland. The one-month project was led by Kimmo Tiilikainen (Centre), the Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing. The Finns Party abandoned the task force last w...
A 25-year-old man suspected of the sexual abuse of a girl under the age of 15 in Oulu, northwestern Finland, who was arrested in Germany last Tuesday is now reported to be at large. According to law enforcement officials in Oulu, the suspect was released by German police before he could be transferred to Finnish custody due to "a breakdown in communication between authorities". Oulu District Court ordered the suspect to be reprimanded into custody in absen...
Finland’s high earners saw their real income grow more in 2017 than their peers in middle and low income groups, according to new data released by Statistics Finland on Tuesday. Incomes among the country’s highest income decile rose by 4.4 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, while the year-on-year increase was 1.3 percent for middle income earners. Incomes for the four lowest income deciles meanwhile grew by 1.2 percent over the one-year period. However amon...
A man wanted in connection with a suspected arson attempt on a home in Helsinki’s Käpylä district was remanded into police custody on Sunday. The Helsinki district court has remanded a man suspected of attempted arson and attempted murder into police custody, ending a short-lived manhunt, police said on Sunday. The 25 year-old is suspected of using a Molotov cocktail to cause a fire at a flat in Käpylä, Helsinki last Monday. The apartment was completely de...
Helsinki Central Library Oodi will opened its doors to the public on 5 December at 8am, a day before Finland’s 101st birthday. Designed by ALA Architects, this library of a new era is an ode to Finnish culture, equality and freedom of expression. Oodi offers everyone an open, public urban space at Kansalaistori Square, right opposite Parliament House. Central Library Oodi is an active and functional meeting point with 2.5 million expected annual visitors....