Sustainability at Bosch eBike systems
Sustainable mobility with 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. eBikes 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 toward sustainable mobility. For Bosch eBike systems, the journey begins much earlier: On this page, we show you how we continuously work toward 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 carbon footprint of an eBike is larger than that of a bicycle: eBike riders travel by bike 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, urbanization. eBikes are a more efficient alternative to other means of transportation, particularly over short distances. People who ride eBikes save money 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 a cargo bike. The energy required is very low at around 11.2 Wh of electricity per mile traveled.
If you only consider the time spent on the road with your eBike, the power consumption results in an average CO2 emissions value of 3.2-8 g/mile, depending on the power mix. In comparison, according to the Federal Environment Agency, a car emits about 240 g CO2 per passenger mile (pkm), while public transportation emits between 80 and 176 g CO2 per passenger mile. Compared to all other means of transportation, the bicycle and the eBike have significantly lower emissions.
The eBike is therefore even more sustainable on the road.
We have compiled some tips and tricks for more sustainable eBiking. For more efficient use of the battery, for an even longer range and a longer service life, and for environmentally aware behavior on the trail.
The battery is responsible for a large part of your eBike's carbon footprint. So using it correctly is crucial - not only for your peace of mind, but also for greater sustainability. With the right handling and care, you can optimize the service life of your eBike's battery. Find out more about sustainable handling and use in our Battery Guide.
The good life is at your fingertips: A vacation with your eBike is not only environmentally friendly, but is also fun and keeps you fit. It combines unique experiences with a mindful approach to nature. Here are some tips on how to minimize your ecological footprint when on vacation.
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 want 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 a necessity for Bosch eBike systems, it is a matter of responsibility. The overarching Bosch sustainability strategy "New Dimensions – Sustainability 2025" describes the company's goals based on six fundamental areas: 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:
- minimizing the carbon footprint of our products,
- responsibility and transparency in the supply chains and
- 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.
Carbon footprint and life cycle analysis
The carbon 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 carbon 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 carbon equivalent of approximately 661 lbs. 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 267 lbs, 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 along the entire 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 aluminum 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 are 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 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 eBike riders.
New packaging and transport concepts
Since September 2020, eBike drives from Bosch eBike systems have been delivered in sustainable and easy-to-recycle molded fiber packaging instead of polystyrene. This not only saves material and recycling costs, but also ensures optimized 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 the quality of life for people 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 through to administration – have no longer had a carbon footprint. An independent auditing firm has officially confirmed this. Now, we want to optimize 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.
For Bosch, climate protection is an essential part of corporate responsibility. Since 2020, Bosch and its more than 400 locations worldwide have been climate-neutral. This also includes the Bosch eBike Systems business unit.
Sustainability also plays a central role at Bosch eBike Systems and is part of the corporate strategy. As early as the development stage of a product, we pay a great deal of attention to how it improves the quality of life for people and reduces environmental pollution, and also how it is possible to minimize use of resources. Design for Environment is an integral part of our product development process: As early as the concept phase, we work out how a new product can be designed to be more sustainable. Even at this early stage, the criteria considered cover the entire value chain, such as the selection of environmentally-friendly raw materials, the use of recycled materials, as well as energy-efficient manufacturing steps and the design of packaging using 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 throughout their life cycle. A key factor here is achieving consistent material savings by developing and designing subsequent generations of our components to be ever smaller, more compact and lighter. By reducing the number of parts, we reduce the amount of material required: Fewer raw materials are needed and the effort required in development and production is significantly simplified. One example is the weight reduction of our drive units. For example, the Performance Line CX in the Bosch eBike System 2 achieved weight savings of approx. 25% compared to the predecessor model. By standardizing our products and limiting the number of variants and parts, we achieve scaling in the manufacturing processes, which leads 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 molded fiber packaging. In addition, after extensive safety testing, we were 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. With very low material input and vehicle weight, it enables flexible, emission-free, quiet and climate-friendly mobility. In addition, regular cycling is also good for your health.
The eBike is the next evolutionary step in cycling. It allows you to go on longer trips, cover longer distances and overcome greater differences in altitude. Overall, eBikes significantly expand the possibilities for use without significantly changing the characteristics and CO2 emissions in the production of the eBike compared to the bicycle. Even though more energy is required for the battery and drive than for a bicycle, especially in production, riders are increasingly using their electric bikes in everyday life, often replacing the car and other means of transport. In addition, users ride more frequently and cover significantly longer distances on their electric bikes. In addition, the energy required is very low, averaging around 11 Wh of power per ride mile.