In recent years, several automakers have been getting into electric bicycles, recognizing these lightweight mobility devices as an integral part of mobility of the future. Indeed, one need not look far to see just how fast the e-bike industry is growing, as nearly every singe bicycle brand already has electric bicycle offerings.
That being said, Volkswagen has just announced its entry into the e-bike market through its subsidiary Volkswagen Financial Services, and a partnership with Pon Holdings, a large mobility company based in the Netherlands. The plan is that the two companies will collaborate to expand electric bicycle leasing for both employees and commercial customers in Europe and the US.
As part of the deal, Volkswagen Financial Services acquired a 49-percent stake in Pon's bike leasing business Bike Mobility Services (BMS). With operations in six countries consisting of Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Sweden, and the US, BMS is seen as one of the biggest bike sharing businesses in the industry. More specifically, the company provides bicycles to more than 600,000 employees across 65,000 companies. On top of that, 90-percent of all the bikes on lease are electric bicycles, which are delivered and serviced through the company's network of 8,000 dealers.
Volkswagen Financial Services and Pon Mobility are eyeing the expansion of BMS in the US market in particular. "BMS just opened its first U.S. office in San Francisco and has already signed large corporations for company bike leasing. Our existing presence and retail relationships in the USA can help enhance our partnership and our offer to U.S. employees, companies, and retailers," Pon Holdings CEO Janus Smalbraak told Bicycle Retailer.
Both Volkswagen and Pon Holdings have quite a lengthy history. In fact, the two companies were involved back when the Volkswagen Bus hit the market nearly eight decades ago. In fact, the final production model of the VW Bus was based on a sketch made by Ben Pon Sr., the father of the company's founder Ben Pon Jr. On top of that, Pon Holdings continues to be the largest importer for the Volkswagen Group in the Netherlands. Porsche also announced a joint-venture with Pon surrounding the development of e-bikes and other micromobility ventures.