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Germany 2010: The Next European E-bike Boom

0 1104 Sales & Trends

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BERLIN, Germany – After a slow start in previous years, e-bike sales have finally picked up in the German market. For a long time skeptics claimed e-bikes would not be very popular, as the German market has known relatively low averages prices for many years and is very much sports-oriented. The 2010 market data of the German industry organization Zweirad Industrie Verband (ZIV) proved the skeptics were wrong. After the Netherlands Germany is the next European e-bike boom market.

“The rising turnover in the bicycle industry is a direct result of the growing importance of the electric bike”, said Siegfried Neuberger, General Manager the German industry organization ZIV at a recent press conference.

“In 2010, unit-wise the market for e-bikes grew even more than in previous years. A total number of 200,000 e-bikes were sold and that is 50,000 more than in 2009.” This results in a 33% increase in e-bike sales in 2010. It will not stop there as the German industry association expects further growth in the coming years.


German Bicycle Production, Imports and Exports (x 1,000 units)

 
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
Production
2,220
2,250
2,370
2,400
2,490
- exports
1,020
1050 960
575
481
+ imports
2,710
2,640
2,920
2,757
2,439
Domestic delivery
3,910 3,850
4,320
4,582
4,448
Source: ZIV

Expectations

ZIV GM Neuberger also expressed his expectations on how big e-bikes will become in Germany. He said: “I expect that this segment will become even more important for our industry in the years to come. Currently about 5% of all bicycles sold in Germany are e-bikes. This market share will grow to 10-15% in 2018, resulting in a volume between 400,000 to 600,000 units annually.”

For 2011 ZIV expects a market volume of 300,000 electric bicycles. ZIV’s 2011 forecast for the complete market including all segments is also positive. “In traffic bicycle participation has been growing for some years now”, said Neuberger. “In cities like Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Bremen and Dresden more than 15% of all trips are made by bike nowadays and this figure is growing.”

The rising e-bike sales are having an equal effect on the markets such as in neighbouring Holland. The German market as well as the average price for the non-electric bikes has been declining for some years. However, now the market is taking full advantage of the growing popularity of the e-bike a more positive picture is presented in ZIV’s annual market statistics. The German market is currently going through the same development as the Dutch market did in the past years.
In 2010 the value of the total bicycle market in German grew by 1.7% to €1.84 billion.

On the number of bikes sold; the ZIV presents for the first time with the 2010 statistics two figures; one for domestic deliveries (deliveries to dealers) and one for actual sales to consumers. Dealer-deliveries stood at 3,910,000 new bicycles; up 1.5% from the 3,850,000 in 2009. The actual number of bicycles sold to consumers grew somewhat more than the dealer-deliveries. According to the ZIV stats sales upped 2.6% to 4,010,000 units.

On prices the ZIV reports that the average retail sales price for a new bicycle increased 3% to € 460 in 2010.

Industry optimistic about near future

According to Neuberger, the German bicycle industry is optimistic about the near future. In 2010 the German bicycle produced some 2.22 million units, together with a large number of bike parts, components and accessories. The number of bicycles made last year is roughly at the same level of 2009 proving that “Quality made in Germany” is still in demand.

About half of the production by German makers were exported. The total 2010 export number stood at 1,020,000; which is close to the 2009 figure. This leaves a total number of 1.2 million bikes delivered to the home market by German producers. With that the market share of the German makers on their home market stood at 30.7% in 2010.

The average value of the produced bicycles increased by 7% compared to previous year to € 306 per unit. The rising average value is mainly thanks to the growing market share of e-bikes as well as increasing quality awareness among consumers. The total market value of bicycles and e-bike produced in Germany was € 680 million.

In 2010 bicycle imports totaled 2,710,000. These bike came from other European countries as well as from outside Europe; in particular Asia. Bike imports account for 69% of the total German market with most of them coming from Asia; 49%. The total import value grew by approximately 6% related to 2009 – to € 557 million. The rising import value is mainly thanks to the significantly higher prices for, again, the e-bikes. This also resulted in the higher average value of the imported bikes, from € 194 in 2009 to € 206 per unit in 2010, an increase of 6.2%.

The ‘made in Germany’ provenance is still important for Germany’s neighbours in the EU and EFTA States also, as these countries absorbed 94 % of all exports in 2010. Although the number of bicycles exported annually has been stable in past three years, the average value expanded by no less than 27.5% to € 352.

According to the German retail organization VDZ the growing importance of the e-bike is also reflected in the fact this product already accounts for more than 10% of the bike sales in units at several shops. The VDZ expect this positive trend to continue in 2011. In stores targeting e-bikes, in combination with good quality service and high quality products an average price of € 2,000 is not uncommon. Special requirements by the consumer might easily result in a significantly higher sales price. In DIY store and supermarkets e-bikes are sold well under €1,000 and this price is generally showing a slightly declining trend. According to the VDZ quality and good advice from the IBD are particularly valuable in this business where the after-sales service is commonly expected, which stabilizes the position of the trade.

Declining importance of sports market

Other segments besides the e-bike are having a difficult time in Germany. For many years sport-related bicycles have dominated the market in Germany. But these lucrative years are over. Business in road race bikes is showing an ongoing weakening in demand. Consumers are using their current racer longer.

This trend is evident thanks to the increasing demand for maintenance and repair at the workshops, as well as other services. Especially in the northern half of Germany the sale of mountain bikes as well as specially equipped sports bikes continues to decline, while sales in these segments remains stable in the southern half of the country.

The market for hybrid bikes and especially city bikes continues to develop positively, suggesting that more and more citizens are using a bicycle for short distances in everyday life, for environmental and cost reasons. This trend is likely to prolong and even strengthen thanks to the rising popularity of e-bikes.

IBD Professionalisation Pays Out in Growing Market Share


Nearly 70% of all new bicycles sold in Germany are purchased at qualified retail shops. In Germany alone, there are currently 5,640 sales outlets for bicycles that are classified as specialist retail shops by the German Bicycle Retail Association (VDZ). This classification requires that certain criteria be met in the areas of presentation, advice, as well as sales and repair services. These qualities already represent a major difference between specialist retailers and the self-service and discount markets.

And yet, the retail trade continues to strive for further improvement. Retailers are preparing for the future in a variety of ways, in order to stay competitive and differentiate themselves from cheaper discounters, self-service and DIY stores, and Internet retailers. Ultimately, the customer wins by receiving competent advice, the highest level of service and high-quality bicycles in every price range from specialist retailers.

Compared with specialist stores, which, according to the VDZ’s definition, must have a total sales area over 1,000 square meters, smaller retailers offer even more comprehensive advice. Consumers appear to value these services highly, since nearly half of all revenues in the industry (€1.021 billion, from a total of € 2.151 billion) are generated in retail stores with total annual sales between €100,000 and €1,000,000. Together, sales of replacement parts and accessories (20%) and revenues from repair work (13%) make up one third of the total revenues in the retail trade.
 

by Jan Willem Van Schaik last update:6 Feb 2012

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