Peter Kimberley is the CEO of Pure Electric, an electric bike and scooter business based in Somerset. Despite the global pandemic causing major problems to businesses around the world, the company has seen a spike in sales as people avoid public transport and turn to different forms of travel.
Auto Futures sits down with Peter to talk about the rise of the company, the recent demand for e-bikes and how the UK will finally get e-scooters on its roads.
So Peter, tell me about Pure Electric?
Pure Electric was created around two years ago by Adam Norris. He wants to transform people’s transport habits and use, to help make journeys more convenient, cheaper and environmentally friendly.
Our goal is to lead a micromobility revolution, to benefit society for generations to come. The company initially started selling electric scooters, then earlier this year we diversified into e-bikes and cargo bikes as well. The company has grown very fast, from 30 employees at the beginning of the year and just one high street store, to 13 shops now and 160 employees. We’re now looking at more stores in the UK and expansion into Europe.
Why has the demand for e-bikes sky-rocketed in recent years?
E-bikes are a perfect solution for so many challenges. They’re environmentally friendly, they’re far cheaper to run than a car, they are good for your physical and mental health and, for anyone a bit hesitant about their fitness or cycling up hills, they make it possible to get out and ride a bike.
Do you believe this demand has been totally driven by the reaction to Covid-19, such as lockdowns and new ‘work-from-home’ rules?
The trend towards e-bikes was already coming but this year’s events have accelerated that trend. The rest of Europe has already enthusiastically embraced e-bikes because they’ve already seen just how useful they are. The UK is quite some way behind but sales are now growing fast. So I think we’d have got there even without Covid, but maybe we’ll now get there a bit faster.
Once the pandemic is over, do you think the trajectory will change at all?
No, I think this change is here to stay now. You only have to look at the infrastructure and highway code changes the UK government is introducing, to see this is now going to be a permanent feature of our lives.
All across the country, low traffic neighbourhoods are springing up, with quieter, safer streets and through traffic pushed out around the outside. The more this happens, the more these changes will become permanent.
Being based in the UK, what are your views on the current climate of e-scooters in the region?
It’s great that the UK government is running trials to look at how to change the outdated legislation in the UK. We are concerned though that they’re not moving fast enough. There’s plenty of evidence from around the world on how to safely introduce private scooters for use on roads and cycle paths. However, the trials will last until next summer so it could easily be another two years before primary legislation is passed to make their widespread use legal across the UK. This could – and should – be done much quicker.
In addition, what needs to be done to get these scooters on UK roads?
Scooters can be treated in much the same way as bicycles and e-bikes. We already know no one wants them on pavements; we also know some light-touch regulatory controls such as speed limits will be sufficient to ensure everyone is kept as safe as reasonably possible.
With 13 stores across the UK, and five more scheduled before the end of the year, what’s next for you guys?
We’ve got big growth plans, with several new stores opening in the UK before the end of the year, in London and in other cities across the country. We’re also well advanced on stores in Paris, Madrid and Barcelona; we’re hoping to open a number of stores in both France and Spain in the months to come and we’re looking to other European countries too.
Ultimately we aim to become the biggest micromobility retailer in Europe.