Sustainability at Bosch eBike Systems
Sustainability that aids progress - the eBike
Our mobility is responsible for more than a fifth of all CO2 emissions worldwide. Riding an eBike helps to lower this value because it enables us to reduce traffic and its impact on the environment. They require little space and don't create noise or exhaust fumes. The switch is a win for the environment. And therefore for every one of us.
But switching to an eBike is just one of many steps towards sustainable mobility. For Bosch eBike Systems, the journey begins much earlier: On this page, we show you how we continuously work towards making the eBike life cycle more ecologically, economically and socially sustainable, and we explain the role sustainability plays for the entire Bosch company. We also provide tips and tricks for more sustainable eBiking and general information on the sustainability of eBikes.
Compared to other means of transport, the eBike is a very environmentally friendly way of getting around - more flexible, quieter and more climate-friendly.
The eBike is the next evolutionary step in cycling. Even though the CO2 footprint of an eBike is larger than that of a bicycle: eBikers travel much more frequently and on longer routes – a win for the environmental impact of our mobility.
CO2 emissions in comparison
The eBike is a response to the issues and challenges of our time: resource scarcity, climate change, urbanisation. eBikes are a more efficient alternative to other means of transport, particularly over short distances. People who ride eBikes get around cheaper and with less environmental impact.
Although eBike components, such as the battery or drive, cause more emissions during production than standard bicycles, people on eBikes ride much more often and for significantly longer distances. In everyday life, the eBike can be used instead of the car in many situations, such as going shopping with an eCargo bike. The energy required is very low at around 7 Wh of electricity per kilometre travelled.
If you only consider the time spent on the road with your eBike, the power consumption results in an average CO2 emissions value of 2-5 g/km, depending on the power mix. In comparison, according to the Federal Environment Agency, a car emits about 150 g CO2/passenger kilometre (pkm), while public transport emits between 50 and 110 g CO2/pkm. Compared to all other means of transport, the bicycle and the eBike are significantly lower in emissions.
The eBike is therefore even more sustainable on the road
We have compiled some tips and tricks for more sustainable eBiking. From more efficient use of the battery, for even greater range and a longer service life, to environmentally conscious behaviour on the trail.
The battery is responsible for a large part of your eBike's CO2 footprint. So using it correctly is crucial - not only for your riding enjoyment, but also for greater sustainability. With the right handling and care, you can optimise the service life of your eBike's battery. Find out more about more sustainable handling and use in our Battery Guide.
The good life is at your fingertips: An eBiking holiday is not only environmentally friendly, but also fun and keeps you fit. It combines unique experiences with a mindful approach to nature. Here are some tips on how to minimise your ecological footprint on holiday.
Sustainability at Bosch eBike Systems
Sustainability is a shared responsibility, and we at Bosch eBike Systems have set our sights on a sustainable future. As part of the Bosch Group, we share a common goal: We intend our products to contribute to a climate-friendly future in which people are mobile in a sustainable, flexible way, with greater riding enjoyment.
Taking responsibility – tackling challenges.
The idea of sustainability is not only necessary for Bosch eBike Systems, it is a matter of course. The overriding Bosch sustainability strategy "New Dimensions – Sustainability 2025" describes the company's goals based on six fundamental issues: climate action, health, human rights, water, circular economy, and diversity. At Bosch eBike Systems, we are particularly committed to three strategic pillars of the global sustainability strategy:
1. minimising the CO2 footprint of our products,
2. responsibility and transparency in the supply chains and
3. the development of a functioning recycling economy.
From the moment we start to develop a product, we pay close attention to its environmental impact. Based on this "Design for Environment" approach, we consider how a new product can be designed to be as sustainable as possible, across the entire value chain. This starts with the selection of environmentally friendly raw materials and the use of recyclables, continuing through energy-saving manufacturing steps to the design of packaging that is as sustainable as possible.
Sustainability is a key criterion in our product development. We carry out ecological assessments, evaluate product-specific environmental aspects at every stage of the life cycle and work continuously to improve them.
CO2 footprint and life cycle analysis
The CO2 footprint over the entire life cycle is a key metric when comparing the sustainability of products. In a so-called life cycle assessment (LCA), we evaluate product-specific environmental aspects in each life cycle phase - from procurement, manufacturing and use to disposal.
Together with TÜV Rheinland, we have calculated the average CO2 footprint for an eBike and for the Bosch eBike system components (drive unit, battery, display, control unit) in detail and identified the greatest potential savings.
The result: Over its entire life cycle - from production to recycling - an eBike generates a CO2 equivalent of approximately 300 kg. Around 75% of CO2 emissions are produced by materials and manufacturing, around 15% during actual use of the eBike, and the remaining 10% or so during transport, packaging and recycling. At 121 kg, approximately 36% of the total footprint is produced by the eBike system, in other words: the components that turn a bicycle into an eBike. The lion's share of this is produced by the eBike battery.
Using this data, we can identify negative impact on the environment and thus design products that are more sustainable in the future.
Responsibility in the supply chain
We are working on a systematic analysis of the social and ecological risks all along the value chain. Our goal is to achieve full transparency in our supply chain for all Bosch eBike products.
Transparency in the supply chain
A key pillar of our sustainability activity is a transparent supply chain that enables comprehensive tracing of critical raw materials. The eBike battery in particular is the focus here. For example, in 2021, we developed a "sustainability questionnaire" in collaboration with battery cell suppliers, to find out important details about the supply chain - right back to the procurement of raw materials at the mine. We intend to broaden the scope of this to include other eBike system components that contain materials such as aluminium and magnesium - such as the drive system and the control unit. The results will also be verified by appropriate assessments. Want to learn more about the Bosch Global Supply Chain Standards? Further information is available here.
Cobalt in battery cells
In order to continuously reduce the amount of critical raw materials in eBike batteries, we are working together with our suppliers to advance the technological development of battery cells. Since 2013, we have already succeeded in reducing 65% of the cobalt content in the cathode of the eBike battery cell through technical developments. Our goal is to further reduce the cobalt content while increasing the capacity of the battery cell.
We are working to offer and improve recycling solutions in all our markets, e.g. by jointly establishing or advising industry solutions and by contacting recycling companies directly. The recycling economy pillar also includes the development of new packaging and transport concepts.
Remanufacturing of eBike drives
Repairability and easy maintenance are two of our most important criteria in product development and essential cornerstones of a functioning recycling economy. We provide independent bicycle retailers with the knowledge and tools to carry out maintenance and minor repairs to the drive unit. Bosch eBike drive units that are replaced free of charge under warranty and goodwill are reconditioned, which means that the drives are technically overhauled and, after a final test, are made available to the customer again with full functionality.
Recycling eBike batteries
Once a battery has reached the end of its lifetime, it must be disposed of appropriately. We would urge the users of our eBike systems to take defective or disused batteries to their local specialist dealer, who will ensure they are disposed of in the appropriate manner. Appropriate recycling practices save resources and valuable raw materials are returned to the materials cycle. Bosch eBike Systems supports new and sustainable recycling methods. The efficiency of recovery depends on the recycling process. New recycling processes can have a recycling efficiency of over 90%.
In most cases, the return and recycling of batteries is free of charge for eBikers.
New packaging and transport concepts
Since September 2020, eBike drives from Bosch eBike Systems have been delivered in sustainable and easy-to-recycle moulded fibre packaging instead of polystyrene. This not only saves material and recycling costs, but also ensures optimised packing density during transport and storage – and ultimately leads to CO2 savings of approx. 45%. In addition, following extensive testing, we were able to dispense with the plastic wrapping on our PowerTube batteries, saving approx. 20% of CO2 emissions for this packaging. We also deliver our products on Euro pallets, which are exchanged and reused after unloading.
What is Bosch doing in terms of sustainability?
Economic, ecological, and socially responsible action is the foundation for our success – this conviction guides our entire company and is reflected in all areas of our activities.
Pioneers in climate protection
At Bosch, we share a common goal: we aim to improve people's quality of life and protect the livelihoods of present and future generations by acting in a sustainable manner. We are playing a pioneering role in climate protection in particular. Since 2020, the 400+ Bosch locations worldwide – from development and production, to administration – no longer have a CO2 footprint. An independent auditing firm has officially confirmed this. Now, we want to optimise the mix of measures and in so doing, further decrease the environmental impact. At the same time, we intend to shape climate protection beyond our direct sphere of influence and also systematically reduce upstream and downstream emissions – our aim is to reduce emissions by 15% by 2030.
Climate protection is an important part of its corporate responsibility for Bosch. Since 2020, Bosch and its more than 400 sites worldwide have been climate-neutral. This also applies to the Bosch eBike Systems business unit.
Sustainability also plays a central role at Bosch eBike Systems and is part of corporate strategy. Even during the development of a product, we focus intensively on how it can improve people's quality of life, minimise environmental pollution and how to reduce the consumption of resources even further in our work. Design for Environment is an integral part of our product development process: Right from the conception phase, we work out how a new product can be designed to be more sustainable. Even at this early stage, the criteria considered covers the entire value chain; including the choice of environmentally-friendly raw materials, the use of recycled materials, manufacturing steps that are more energy efficient and packaging design that favours more sustainable alternatives.
Every time we develop a new product or enhance an existing one, we look at how we can reduce the impact of our products on the environment over their entire life cycle. A major factor here is the consistent reduction in the use of materials - we always develop and design subsequent generations of our components to be smaller, more compact and lighter. By reducing the number of parts, we cut down the amount of material required: fewer raw materials are needed and the effort involved in development and production is significantly simplified. One example of this is the reduction in the weight of our drive units. The Performance Line CX in the Bosch eBike system 2 has achieved weight savings of approx. 25% compared to the previous model. By standardising our products and limiting the number of variants and parts, we can scale the manufacturing processes, leading to a reduction in the energy required per part. Further examples can be found in our packaging strategy. Since September 2020, our drives have been delivered to our customers in sustainable moulded fibre packaging. Following extensive safety testing, we were also able to eliminate the use of plastic outer packaging for our PowerTube batteries, saving about a quarter of the CO2 emissions for this packaging.
Cities face huge challenges in the 21st century. The world's population is growing, resources are dwindling, and our climate is changing. Solutions are required. E-mobility can make a significant contribution to sustainable city development and a liveable urban environment. Pedelecs in particular offer great opportunities. They help save resources as well as reducing emissions. Pedelecs are an effective and efficient means of transport, particularly over short distances. People who ride eBikes get around faster, cheaper and with less environmental impact. Pedelecs have great potential in terms of transport policy, especially in urban areas.
The bicycle is one of the most sustainable means of transport there is. Because of the very low utilisation of material and vehicle weight, it enables flexible, emission-free, quiet and climate-friendly mobility. What's more, regular cycling is also good for your health.
The eBike is the next evolutionary step in cycling. It permits longer trips, further distances and overcoming greater differences in altitude. Overall, eBikes significantly expand the possibilities of use without significantly altering any characteristics, or CO2 emissions in the production, of the eBike compared to the bicycle. This is the case even though more energy is required for the battery and drive system than for the bicycle, especially in production. But eBikers increasingly use their electric bikes in everyday life, often as an alternative to cars and other means of transport. Furthermore, eBikers use their eBikes two to three times more often and travel significantly longer distances. In addition, the required energy consumption is very low, averaging around 7 Wh of electricity per kilometre travelled.