Poland: Market Shifting Towards Higher Priced E-Bikes

WARSAW, Poland – The Polish market for bicycles and e-bikes expanded by approximately 10% this year. Obviously the relatively short and mild winter contributed to the popularity of bicycles this year, but there is more. The number of cyclists, especially commuters, has been showing a significant growth in the past years.

It is obvious when strolling the street of Polish cities but also confirmed by the Polish Cycle Association (PSR, Polskie Stowarzyszenie Rowerowe). Cycling is enjoying increasing popularity. One of the main reason for this development in bicycles usage is time saving. Warsaw has a staggering number of cars. There are twice as many registered cars per 1,000 inhabitants than in Berlin. (Berlin +\- 350. Warsaw 600+). If you add the thousands of cars entering the city every morning, you can imagine the traffic chaos and lengthy jams. But cycling in Poland’s big cities is still an activity for the daring, despite the improving network of cycle ways. Nonetheless the number of cyclists, especially women, is increasing.

Sales increase

A survey of the Polish Cycle Association showed that almost 60% of the bicycle shop managers, importers, and manufacturers reported an increase in sales. The average growth is around 10%. Poland is the fifth biggest exporter of bicycles in the European Union with 1.1 million units. The survey also made it clear; most would-be cyclists’ biggest restraint from cycling is the lack or the low quality of cycling infrastructure. Also the average price of €380 (8th in the European ranking) discourages people in Poland from starting to cycle, as this amount takes a substantial part of the budget of the average household. As a result the second-hand market flourishes, although rumours about the import of stolen bikes are strongly exaggerated and most imports are legal.

Market potential

While the survey indicated that the sales figures are quite good, the number of bicycles per inhabitant is still low. The main increase was reported in the city-bike category by almost 55% of the bicycle shop managers, importers and manufacturers interviewed. Also the recreational bikes as well as high-end MTB and road race bikes were regarded growth categories. Two years ago the electric bike had a market share of less than 1% in Poland. Ever since sales have increased significantly and the survey illustrates that this product is regarded as a high potential product. E-bikes are ‘hot’ in Poland. Two or three years ago the low-priced China-made e-bikes with lead-acid batteries enjoyed a great popularity. However the market has changed for better and a growing number of people are opting for a more expensive e-bikes, as was clearly shown on the Kielce Bike-Expo last autumn.

“We expected that this shift in the market would take more time in Poland than in other EU countries due to the pricing,” said Dariusz Borowiak of Shimano Poland. “Though it turned out that the Polish customers highly prefer comfort and that gave a push to the market. Our market survey among 1024 people showed that 24% of the participants would use the e-bike primarily for commuting, 28% would use it for shopping and 33% for recreation. A total of 85% said that they would use their e-bike instead of public transport.” At the Kielce Bike-Expo (see box) several e-bike manufacturers still communicated to the consumer “it’s not the point to replace conventional bikes with e-bikes, but to use them for long commutes or in hilly terrain.”

Polish Cycle Association

The Polish Cycle Association was founded in 2009 in a joint effort to put an end to the market standstill at that time. Today the by main bike manufacturers, importers and retailers are affiliated to this industry organization. The association handles the exchange of market information and informs members on developments in the industry. It also founded certification systems for IBDs to inform consumers on the quality level of the bicycle shops.