Market Report Germany: E-Bike Sales Grows in Declining Market
BERLIN, Germany – After two excellent bicycle sales reports for 2014 and 2015, the German industry organization ZIV announced less positive market results for 2016. Last year the volume of combined sales for bicycles and e-bikes declined by 6.9% compared with 2015, to 4.05 million units. Once again the e-bike was the positive note. Both sales and exports climbed by double digits.
Managing director of the ZIV, Siegfried Neuberger puts the 2016 market results in perspective by stating, “2016 was a difficult year for the German bicycle industry. The industry is heavily dependent on the weather conditions during the bicycle season. Unfortunately these were unfavourable in the first half of the year. Most of the business which was lost between January and July, could not be regained in the second half of the year. Therefore we are convinced that the industry can be satisfied with the final result. We should not forget that the market was excellent for the industry in 2014 and 2015 so we are comparing 2016 sales with very high levels. All together we are very confident about the future,” said Siegfried Neuberger, Managing Director of ZIV. At Eurobike last year, ZIV still expected a decline in market volume between 6-8%.
Average retail price up
In sales, the German bicycle market follows the same trend as the Netherlands in the past years, with the rise of the e-bike. In Germany the market tendency now shows a decline in overall volumes, while the turnover increases just like the average price. In 2016 the market volume in Germany decreased by 6.9% while the turnover rose by 7% from € 2.42 billion in 2015 to € 2.6 billion in 2016. According to the ZIV this is the result of the increase in sales of e-bikes but also the growth in demand for higher quality bicycles.
E-bike sales up 13%
Last year 605,000 new e-bikes entered the German market, an increase of 13% compared with 2015. As a result the average retail price surged last year by 15% to € 643. Obviously the leading trend boosting the value of the German market is the e-bike, which now accounts for up to 15% of the volume. The ZIV expects this number to grow in the years ahead. They anticipate an 18-20% market share in the medium term and even 30% over the long term.
The speed pedelec market is slowly picking up as well. The volumes are still marginal and 99% of all e-bikes sold are part of the 250W and 25km/h category. German made e-bikes are very much in demand on other markets as the export volume boosted for the second consecutive year. In 2015 the export volume was already up by 37%. It exploded again last year, growing by 66% to 233,000 units.
When stating ‘2016 was a difficult year for the German bicycle industry’ the managing director of the ZIV was mainly referring to the market for regular bicycles which declined by nearly 10% in volume, or 370,000 units. In 2015 over 3.8 million bicycles were sold and last year this volume dropped to just over 3.4 million. The main part of the decline came in the categories city/urban, trekking, youth bikes and MTBs. The other categories, Holland bikes, touring bicycles and others, remained stable.
New bicycle factory and shifting strategies
The market transformation to more e-bikes instead of regular bicycles only was also echoed in the changing strategy of some big players in Germany. Last October Derby Cycle’s CEO Thomas Reith was appointed head of all Pon Bike Group’s e-bike activities. According to a company statement “in the fast growing e-MTB sector Focus is to be the leading brand of the Pon Bike Group.”
Also for the German dealer cooperative ZEG, the e-bike is now really in the lead. They already claimed a market share of some 50% of all e-bikes sold in Germany. This claim was reflected in the 2017 model range presented last July where e-bikes were top of mind for the first time for all ZEG brands. Obviously Zemo and Greenmover are ZEG’s dedicated e-bike brands, but also the e-MTBs of Bulls and the e-city and e-trekking bikes of Pegasus as well as Hercules had prominent positions at the ZEG show.
Less positive news from the bicycle manufacturer’s side came from MIFA. In December the company moved to a brand new factory in its home town Sangerhausen. However, just before the production could actually start, it became clear that the company’s long time financial difficulties could not be solved with a multi-million euro investments only by owner Heinrich von Nathusius and the company filed for insolvency. Apparently not everybody could benefit from the e-bike boom on the German market. The final outcome of this insolvency is still unclear at the time of writing.