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Austria 2011: Breakthrough for E-bikes

Sales & Trends

Last year, Austrian bicycle sales were hurt by unpredictable weather conditions, especially in summer. But one segment brought sunshine to the market: e-bikes. Pushed by Klima:Aktiv Mobil – a governmental action program for mobility management to reduce C02 emissions (including promotion and funding of energy-efficient mobility) – this segment started rolling and kept gaining momentum.

Austria 2011: Breakthrough for E-bikes

VIENNA, Austria – Last year, Austrian bicycle sales were hurt by unpredictable weather conditions, especially in summer. But one segment brought sunshine to the market: e-bikes. Pushed by Klima:Aktiv Mobil – a governmental action program for mobility management to reduce C02 emissions (including promotion and funding of energy-efficient mobility) – this segment started rolling and kept gaining momentum. 

 

Austrian bicycle production, exports and imports 2011/2010 

  2011 2010
Production* 194,000 210,000
– Exports 147,965** 156,060***
+ Imports 398,298** 373,303***
Domestic Delivery 444,333 427,243***
Sold Overstock 0**** 12,757
Total Bicycle Sales* 440,333 440,000
     
E-bikes appr. 32,000 appr. 20,000

* Production and total sales figures estimated by Arge-Zweirad and Jo Beckendorff
** Preliminary figures by Statistik Austria
*** Varies slightly from last year’s printed preliminary figures
**** see text

Pushed by favourable state funding Austrian e-bike sales – more precisely, pedelec sales – skyrocketed from approximately 20,000 units in 2010 to more than 30,000 in 2011. Thalinger-Lange’s marketing manager Helge Fellner names a more precise figure – 32,000 units. Whatever the exact number is, it’s a more than 50% increase.

Trend will definitely continue in 2012
According to Austrian Two-Wheeler Association ‘Arge Zweirad’ general secretary Karin Munk, 2011 was, “the year of the breakthrough for the latest pedelec generation. This trend will definitely continue in 2012. According to industry forecasts in 2014 there will be sales of approximately 50,000 units.” This development will be pushed by more efficient battery packs, a larger variety of e-bike kits and by the trendy image this product group keeps in its hands.

The Austrian government gave a big push to the ‘new’ pedelec market. The national climate protection initiative Klima:Aktiv (www.klimaaktiv.at) consists of a bundle of measures of regulation, taxes and subsidies “in the four thematic clusters Building, Energy Efficiency, Mobility and Renewable Energy”. Specific programs follow a comprehensive and systematic approach in supporting the market introduction “of climate-friendly technologies, services and activities”.

Attractive subsidies
Creating a climate protection network of business and public sector also led to a unique nationwide e-bike state promotion and support in 2011. As a contribution to meet environmental obligations, in particular the EU framework of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Austria by 13% from 1990 to the period 2008 to 2012, pedelec sales and use came into the spotlight.

Federal, state, and community governments offered attractive subsidies to “communities, associations, companies and private people” when buying pedelecs. The subsidized amount varied from community to community and from state to state. Overviews on the entire e-bike subsidies 2011 see http://www.klimaaktiv.at/article/articleview/75070/1/24637.

Governmental support gave a clear push
According to KTM Bikes marketing manager Leo Schmid, “in 2012 these subsidies won’t be given to private people but still to assorted communities, associations and companies.” Nevertheless the governmental support gave a clear push to the new trendy product group conquering the market. The first seeds were sown. The shoots appeared immediately.

The pedelec sales increase increased the value of the entire bicycle sales. According to Thalinger-Lange GmbH’s marketing manager Helge Fellner, rising pedelec sales harmed trekking bikes sales. Nevertheless, due to pedelec sales overall value sales went up. Simplon’s Andreas Hämmerle notes that at his company it wasn’t only pedelec sales pushing overall sales, “Our company’s road bike average sales price was up 4.4% from the previous year’s €3,600, to €3,760 in 2011.”

Fellner reports stable mountain bike sales
Overall average sales price at Simplon increased 14% from €2,360 to €2,690. "This is thanks to our pedelec sales.” While trekking bike sales were impacted by increasing pedelec sales Fellner reports stable mountain bike sales, “This is still Austria’s most important bicycle category. Trendy 29ers are breathing new life into this offroad segment. Road bike sales are also stable but kids and juvenile bikes (are) slightly down.”

According to Fellner, bicycle parts and accessory sales are also doing well, “Compared with the previous year they grew around 5% to 10%. New product groups such as GPS for example, as well as high-end parts, accessories and apparel are also the backbone for further future sales increases.”

Limited reliable figures
Let’s have a closer look on Austria’s complete bicycle sales 2011. The figures available at the time of writing in April are most limited. This year Arge-Zweirad for example was not able to provide any 2011 bicycle figures. What we were able to get from governmental Statistik Austria are the preliminary import and export figures 2011. These figures should be fine (see chart 01). Note that these figures don’t include the e-bike segment with more than 30,000 units sales last year (see chart 02).

We asked the Austrian industry for their production figures. You might think that this would be easy. Aside from market leader KTM Bikes and custom builder Simplon Fahrrad there are no bicycle producers left of any substantial size. Adding the approximately 12,800 unit bicycle production for 2011 (2010: approximately 13,000 units) given out by Simplon general manager Andreas Hämmerle to KTM Bikes’ 210,000 units (2010: 195,000 units) noted by marketing manager Leo Schmid we see a total of 222,800 units. Taking the production of some smaller companies such as lightweight fetishist Steinbach Bike into account we carefully rounded Austrian production up, adding another 1,200 for an overall of 224,000 units.

Careful calculation
Then we subtracted 30,000 (pedelec) units from this amount, because the producers include this number into their overall production figures, unlike Statistik Austria’s bicycle only import/export figures (see above). That’s how we finally ended up with the estimated Austrian bicycle-only production of 194,000 units (chart 01). Nevertheless, when taking this estimated amount, subtracting Statistik Austria’s preliminary export 2011 figures and add the preliminary 2011 import figures (due to the well-known formula of “home production minus export plus import = domestic delivery) you reach a domestic delivery of 444,333 units.

With an eye on the domestic delivery for 2010, this amount (= plus 4%) seems to be somehow okay. But if so there would have been no overstock in 2011 that over the previous years’ was continuously showing up with dropping but still impressive numbers. Most of them were IBD inventory. Due to the calculation we do to get an idea about the Austrian bicycle market 2011; there would have been no more overstock in 2011. Frankly said we doubt it – because in the previous year this number was still 12,757 units. All sold in a year dominated by rising pedelec sales but – let’s face it – was also harmed by unpredictable summer weather conditions? It seems unlikely.

Estimation gaps
The huge gap between the Austrian market delivery sales size in 2011 can be also underlined by the (large) number given out by the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (WKO) on the one hand and the estimation given by Thalinger-Lange’s vet Helge Fellner on the other. According to a WKO report the Austrian bicycle market 2011 was good for “an estimated 480,000 units” (incl. pedelecs!). After investigating a couple of different estimations and sales trends from market members Fellner estimates around 440,000 units (incl. pedelecs).

We tried our best to bring the import and export figures delivered by Statistik Austria together with the production and domestic delivery estimation variations we received from market participants. To give you somehow a clear picture on the Austrian bicycle market 2011 we finished our overall research with the estimated figures given in the charts aside. Please take into account that these are estimations and not proven facts. Those are not available.
 

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