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Trend Reversal in Holland; E-Bike Sales Growth Stopped 

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AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands – For the first time in years the sale of electric bikes showed no further growth in the Netherlands in 2016. However, it didn’t drop either and even saw its market share grow a little as total bicycle sales dropped by 5.7% last year.

Trend Reversal in Holland; E-Bike Sales Growth Stopped 
‘It’s too early to say the e-bike market has reached it maximum share at 29% in Holland,’ said Wouter Jager chairman of Dutch industry association RAI-Vereniging. – Photo Bike Europe

There’s also good news as for the 4th consecutive year the total bicycle market value in the Netherlands reached a record level. The turnover made with the sale of new bicycles and e-bikes ended at close to €1 billion on December 31, 2016. Despite this record the Dutch industry association RAI-Vereniging reported that the 2016 sales volume declined to the lowest level in thirty years.

The e-bike push

The RAI-Vereniging 2016 market statistics show a total of 928,000 new bicycles and e-bikes were sold in the Netherlands. The total retail value of those sales stood at €937 million. The statistics also indicate e-bike sales hovered around the same level as in 2015 – at 270,000 units.

The growing importance of the e-bike category, pushing up the average retail price, continued in 2016, though at a much lower pace. The market share for e-bikes increased again – from 28% in 2015 to 29% last year, making it the second largest category after city and touring bikes. Thanks to e-bikes the total market value increased by 4.2%. Also, for the first time in history the average retail price in all distribution channels, including on-line, exceeded the €1,000 mark and ended at €1,010. For the IBD channel only, the average retail price stood even higher – at €1,094.

In 2016 the total bicycle market volume decreased by 5.7%, from 983,000 units in 2015 to 928,000 bicycles last year. Not since 1987 has the market reached such a low volume. The Dutch market shows a steady decline since 2007 as in that year the market volume tipped the 1.4 million units, an absolute record.

90 e-bike brands

The chairman of the bicycle section of the RAI industry association, Wouter Jager, did not want to characterize the market as being in stagnation. At the recently held ‘Tweewieler Retail Trends Congress’ organized by Bike Europe’s sister magazine ‘Tweewieler’ he said. “It’s too early to say that the e-bike market has reached its maximum share at 29% as it was in 2016. We think that there’s is still potential for growth in this product category.”

On the other hand he also pointed out that “in the future regular bikes will continue to make up a substantial part of the market, I am convinced of that.” Jager also reported that, “Rampant growth of e-bike sales resulted in the presence of more than 90 different e-bike

brands on the market today”, and on the other hand, “the announcement of Media Market that they will pull out (of) the e-bike market shows that market entrance is certainly not easy.”

Changes at IBD channel

This was not the only change occurring in the bicycle retail market. In 2016, IBDs managed to increase their market share in volume substantially; from 70% to 76%. Wouter Jager pointed to the bankruptcy of the renowned department store chain Vroom & Dreesman as well as the retail chain Halfords NL as a contributing factor. Although Halfords NL made a restart on a smaller scale “the turnover in bicycles of both formulas who were offering bicycles in the low to mid-end range has partly been taken over by several webshops,” Jager said.

The same goes for the market share of large DIY-stores who have greatly limited their bicycle offerings in the past few years. Unfortunately the statistics of the RAI-Vereniging do not clarify the market share of webshops, as the growing importance of online sales is a leading issue regarding the future of the IBDs.

Potential of the speed-pedelec

Like e-bike sales, the market for speed pedelecs in the Netherlands also stayed at the same level in 2016 compared to 2015, with a volume of just over 3,400 units. “It will be difficult to make the speed-pedelec as successful as the e-bike in the Netherlands,” said Jager, “but this category has certainly more potential. A lot of consumers hesitated to buy a speed-pedelec due to new regulations which were implemented last year. Also the obligation as of January 2017 to wear a helmet when riding a speed-pedelec made people reluctant. Therefore we are very content with the special speed-pedelec helmet which was developed in close cooperation between the national authorities and the industry and is available on the market now.”

In an official ceremony at the end of March Dutch Minister of Transport Melanie Schultz handed this speed pedelec helmet to the cyclists’ federation Fietsersbond.

“This is a fine example of innovation,” said Minister Schultz at the presentation. “The market develops a nice product the consumer likes a lot and the government adjusts the laws and regulations as soon as possible.” According to the RAI-Vereniging the fleet of speed-pedelecs in the Netherlands already exceeds 10,000 units.

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