An electric bicycle or e-bike has a built-in electric motor and rechargeable battery that helps with propulsion. They typically sell for 1400-3,000 euros in Finland, with some simpler models beginning around 700 euros.
If approved, the rebates would be handed out by the Finnish Transport Safety Agency (Trafi). The plan is to open an online application system on 1 July 2018. Subsidies could be obtained retroactively for any e-bike bought after 1 April.
Funds from ‘bioeconomy and clean solutions’ programme
The money would be paid out of budget funds earmarked to support the acquisition of electric cars and the conversion of gas and ethanol cars between 2018 and 2021. Thus the plan would require a revision of legislation aimed at supporting the purchase of low-emission cars.
The proposal is part of a government plan to encourage walking and cycling, which is to be unveiled on Friday.
That, in turn, falls under the centre-right coalition’s overall programme to boost what it calls ‘bioeconomy and clean solutions’. Environmental groups such as the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation have expressed sustainability concerns about the programme, which calls for expanded use of renewable natural resources.
The Finnish e-bike market
Electric bikes are becoming more popular across Europe, but Finland has lagged behind the trend. That could change if the proposed subsidies are introduced.
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.”