Introduced to Viet Nam only 4-5 years ago in major cities, the popularity – and availability – of electric bikes has exploded nationwide over the last two years.
Despite being categorised as a zero-emissions vehicle and being considered a trendy means of transportation, the two-wheeled bike is facing a number of problems in Viet Nam over its quality, safety and management.
Nguyen Trong Thai, office manager of the National Traffic Safety Committee, talked with the media about the current situation facing the market for electric bikes, their circulation rates in Viet Nam, and his vision for the future of the so-called "future vehicle."
What do you think of the outbreak of electric bikes in Viet Nam in recent years?
|guyen Trong Thai
Electric bikes became popular over the last two years, not only in major cities such as Ha Noi and HCM City but also in other areas where the number of electric bikes has now increased dramatically.
The number of electric bikes sold rose rapidly in 2013 and 2014. The bikes offer advantages such as being lightweight, sleek, and fuel-efficient, and they do not require a driver's licence.
The rapid growth rate is attributed to the bikes' suitability for the youth, particularly students. In addition, electric bicycles are also suitable for transporting the elderly.
However, the prices of electric bikes are considered to be high, with some being priced up to VND14-15 million. Meanwhile, most of the electric bikes in Viet Nam are reportedly of poor quality and have a short lifespan, especially for the vital parts such as the battery and motor.
Therefore, when buying electric bikes, people should select a high-quality brand that offers good after-sales services.
How would you rate the safety of electric bikes sold in Viet Nam since some of them can run at a maximum speed of 40 kilometres per hour?
It is true that many shortcomings of electric bikes have been revealed. For instance, the design of many types of electric bikes don't meet safety standards; some are too big with no lights or signals or the lights do not meet regulations.
In addition, while our regulations stipulate that the speed of electric bikes should not exceed 25 kilometres per hour, many electric bikes in Viet Nam have speed limits of up to 40 kilometres per hour.
Therefore, the level of risk to riders of electric bikes is much higher since the standards for durability, strength, braking and decelerating are much lower for electric bikes than for combustion engine bikes.
So what are the gaps in the management of electric bicycles now?
Electric bikes in Viet Nam were being imported from various sources, which raises questions about the quality of these products. If the product is not good, not up to standard, it is dangerous for users and poses a risk for traffic accidents.
So market authorities should closely manage the origin of imports, which has an impact on product quality.
While some countries manage electric bikes by providing a plate number, electric bikes in Viet Nam are still unmanaged.
To make electric bikes a useful means of transport, which also helps to save the environment thanks to its zero-emissions feature, market authorities should tighten the management of quality, especially with regard to safety issues.
Considering the many shortcomings of electric bikes that you've noted, should we ban or limit the circulation of electric bikes in major cities?
The government has ordered five major cities – Ha Noi, HCM City, Da Nang, Hai Phong and Can Tho – to create a roadmap to restrict the circulation of personal vehicles.
Similarly, we should create a long-term roadmap to restrict the use of electric bikes if it becomes absolutely necessary. But the plan should be based on detailed studies and should work well with other means of transport. — VNS