Author Topic: Justifying an expensive e-Cargobike  (Read 934 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Justifying an expensive e-Cargobike
« on: July 27, 2018, 07:26:32 AM »
Hi guys, I'm trying to make the math work out on a pretty slick e-Cargobike that I took for a trial spin a couple of weeks ago.  Problem with the thing is, it's really expensive!

I got a quote for 5800 .  Shocking, yes, but there are advantages:

The State will give me a one-off kickback of 30% through a subsidy program, as a Business-Owner planning to use the bike to offset a portion of my vehicular travel.

Plus, I get to claim the 19% VAT included in that price against what I receive from my customers.  So, the Bike will cost me 'only' 3412 .  Still a pile of cash.

The idea is to use it for customer meetups, and to complete small jobs within about a 12 km radius, and offset truck use on multi-day projects.  I think I can realistically leave the truck at home one work day in 10, maybe more, and do most of my evening customer meetups with the bike.  I can also avoid parking fees and fines, though these are a minor concern.  A big consideration is not arriving sweaty for customer meetings, and the bike is by far the fastest way to get around my town (car traffic is unbelievable here).  We can also eliminate most of our private use of the truck (admittedly not much as it stands).  I think it would also be a neat marketing gimmick in my environmentally conscious city.  We don't have a private car, we either occasionally borrow my father-in-law's (we pay for fuel), or we do our shopping on foot or with transit.  So, this is not a car-replacement purchase, but an addition to our fleet of bikes.

I looked at the various tax-implications of declaring it as a business vehicle (possible here), and as far as offsetting other costs (mostly truck), it comes out as a wash.  I don't think there are any cost savings to be realised with this purchase.  It will be simply money out of pocket.

So it comes down to intangibles:

time stuck in traffic in the evenings - reduced significantly, enjoyment increased two days a week.  Customer meetings usually twice a week on average.


environment - obviously way less impact than my stinky diesel per km

local considerations - diesel ban coming up soon, though mine is exempt.  nevertheless obeying the Spirit of the law, at least when possible.

Anybody else done the math on e-Cargobikes?  As a car-replacement it makes total sense financially.  In my case, it's a wash, but the intangibles still make it attractive. 

Cannot Wait!

  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Justifying an expensive e-Cargobike
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2018, 08:34:43 AM »
Other options?   
Perhaps a trailer attached to one of the bikes you already own???
Can you buy used?
Convince another business/person to co-own it with you?
Rent someone else's?


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Justifying an expensive e-Cargobike
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2018, 09:40:10 AM »
This would be a definite 'Nice to have' thing, that could generate interesting leads as a unique marketing angle.  It would also over the long term be cost neutral.  Used you can't find, and you wouldn't get the kickbacks from the government.  Too complicated sharing with other businesses, plus the kickback would be neutralised.  Trailers on existing bike doesn't solve the sweat problem, and I need to carry big weight up and down hills.  Not available for rent, and can't put signage on a rented vehicle anyways, so no marketing advantage there.  e-Cargobikes are pretty extreme in what they can do.  A full-grown person can sit comfortably in the cargo area up front.

The most reasonable course of action from a strictly financial standpoint would be to carry on as I am now, using the truck on a daily basis.  Because traffic is so bad here (2nd worst in Western Europe after London!) it could make shuttling kids to and from appointments easier, and shopping as well.  There could also be savings realised from transit tickets or fuel for the father-in-law's car not needing to be bought.  Payoff is long though, probably 10 years or more.  I have no doubt the bike would last that long (the battery is another story).


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Justifying an expensive e-Cargobike
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2018, 10:22:10 AM »
You realizing that you're looking for permission to buy a cool new toy, right? On MMM forums.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Justifying an expensive e-Cargobike
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2018, 10:50:59 AM »

Also consider the safety aspect if you are thinking of riding a bike daily for 10 years in traffic that is that bad.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Justifying an expensive e-Cargobike
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2018, 12:12:48 PM »
Safety isn't a prime concern, here there are loads of separated bike routes, you don't need to tangle with cars too often.  When you do, drivers here are used to cyclists being part of the mix.  All of my near-misses here have been with other cyclists or pedestrians, not drivers.  I've never felt so safe on a bike as I do here.  MMM has a neat article bout bikes and the myth that they are more dangerous than cars. 

Also with regards to Sibley's comment:  yeah, it seems that way, but there's enough wiggle room to make it an interesting discussion.  I posted this because of the latest MMM Blog entry about toys and their costs.

Like for instance, not everything can or should be looked at strictly in financial terms.  Hence the intangibles argument.  How can driving my diesel truck around in an already congested city suffering from terrible air pollution be the better option than biking, simply because it makes more sense financially?  Also, how do you assign a cost benefit to enjoyment?  How do you assess the potential market increase due to the unique visibility such a thing would provide?  Could turn out to be nothing.  I think the argument could be made that time savings on customer calls could make it pay for itself in the long term on its own.  Besides, showing up for an initial customer meeting pouring with sweat is also not an option, hence the e-bike.  No e-bike = no customer calls on the bike.