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The Netherlands 2010: E-bike Saves Dutch Bicycle Industry

0 2241 Sales & Trends

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AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands – Even the ever increasing popularity of e-bikes in the Netherlands could not maintain the country’s bicycle sales numbers in 2010 at the same level as previous years. Last year the total market dropped by 7% in volume on total sales of 1,186,000 units. For the first time in years the total turnover of the bicycle sales declined as well. Most IBDs could compensate for the loss in turnover of new bikes by selling more accessories and receiving more orders in their workshops, as a growing number of customers kept on using their old bike instead of replacing it by a new one.

Number of new bikes sold in the Netherlands (x 1,000 units)

2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
1,365
1,324
1,219
1,250
1,239
1,323
1,400
1,388
1,281
1,186

The 2010 bicycle season started slowly. For weeks at a time streets in the Netherlands were covered with snow. These winter conditions did not attract people to cycle and even die-hard cyclists left their bike at home to avoid riding on slippery streets. Not surprisingly the number of bikes sold in months like February dropped by double digit percentages. But even in the month of May (normally one of the best selling months) market volumes declined substantially. It took the market until October to recover.

The e-bike was the only category recording an increase in sales. 1.3% more e-bikes were sold compared to the same period in 2009. All other categories, including city bikes and road race bikes registered lower results. By mid-year, total bike sales including e-bikes, stood at 725,000 units; 6.8% fewer compared to the same period in 2009. That market trend would remain unchanged for the rest of the year.

The succes of the e-bike is unsurpassed and this segment even passed the city bike category – traditionally the the bestselling category in Holland by far. Money-wise city bikes accounted for 36.3% of the total dealer turnover, while ‘only’ 11.9% of the turnover was made with Hybrid/Trekking Bikes. The Dutch e-bike market is not only large in volume and turn over. The number of models available in the shops is also pretty large. A mid-year count showed 28 brand names offering some 323 different types of e-bike for sale.

 Another interesting figure is that 88% of the total turnover in electric bikes was made with 178 e-bike models; 55% of the total number of models available. Just as in the other segments the ‘big three’ of the Dutch market, Accell Group, Gazelle and Giant, all gained a leading position in the top 5 best selling e-bike brands. Number one is Sparta, while Batavus holds the runner-up position. Giant is the 3rd leading brand with Koga following and Gazelle at 5th.

Increasing average price

On earlier occasions, René Takens, chairman of the bicycle department of the Dutch industry organization RAI Association, said he expected the industry’s total turnover would exceed €10 billion soon. Today, the peak year of 2008, with a total turnover of €9.7 billion, seems further away than ever. Although the average price of new bikes continues to rise, market volumes have been declining for the third consecutive year. Last year the average purchase price at the IBDs increased by 6% to €916. Without doubt, this amount will top €1,000 within a few years. For the total market, IBDs, Mass Merchandisers like department stores, post-order and internet stores, as well as DIY chains, the average amount per cycle increased by more than 4% to €757.

All segments except for the e-bike saw lower sales in volume last year. The e-bike sales rose by almost 8% to 165,000 units. Consumers are getting more and more knowledge about this category of bikes and this result in a growing awareness that a good quality e-bike, including the necessary service package, is solely available at the IBD. According to the industry organization RAI Association low priced e-bikes are hardly available on the market anymore. The Dutch consumer is getting aware that a quality model starts a € 1,500. In the past four year the IBD’s market share averaged 74% while their market share in e-bike sales increased to over 85%.

The figures on the growing awareness of the value of bikes are supported by the shifts in the price categories as shown in the table “New bike sales in price ranges/market share”. The market share of the lowest category with a value up to € 300 went down from 29% in 2009 to 25% in 2010. In terms of volumes this means that the bottom of market lost one third of its size as it went down from 371,490 units in 2009 to 249,060 in 2010. The damage to the low-mid end of the market is less, but still substantial. The number of bikes sold up to € 700 went down from 794,220 in 2009 to € 699,740.

Forcast for 2011

The RAI Association expects the market volume for 2011 will remain stable with the potential for minor growth. E-bike sales are expected to expand further, due to ongoing product development, which results in more targeted models. Above all, the e-bike can be used for several purposes and targeted at many different groups. It is the ideal means of transport for shorter distances.

Prospects for the Dutch market will also largely depend on the future of the bike schemes, which contributes to some 16% of the total number of new bikes sold. The current bike schemes or tax ruling is under discussion. If the Dutch Government maintains the existing ruling the RAI Association expects the market to grow by 3% in 2011. If the bike schemes are changed the RAI Association claims sales will decline significantly.

Nevertheless, the industry organization remains positive as the bike is still a relatively cheap means of transport. In the Netherlands the bicycle will always play an important role as the demand for affordable and sustainable mobility continues to increase. As well, the bicycle fits well with the growing interest in recreation, sports, fitness and health.

New bike sales in price ranges/market share (in %)

Euro
2008
2009
2010
0 - 300
27%
29%
25%
301 - 499
17%
18%
20%
500 - 699
15%
15%
14%
700 - 899
25%
18%
20%
> 900
16%
19%
21%

New bike sales by category (in %) 

 
2009
2010
Dutch City bike
49%
50%
Hybrid bike
16%
13%
Juvenile bike
13%
14%
Electric bike
12%
14%
Rest (incl. MTB)
9%
9%

 

by Bike Europe

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