In 1980, long before electrically-assisted cycling became a mass phenomenon, Panasonic had already brought the first e-bike to market. It is hence no surprise that the Ja-panese manufacturer has also established itself in today’s competitive e-bike market – most notably with the GX Ultimate model, which is one of the most powerful drive units with a maximum torque of 95 Nm. Thereby, a particular focus of the business strategy has always been on the European market. Among others, companies such as Bulls, Hercules, and Flyer have been successfully using Panasonic systems in their bikes for many years.
“For this reason, we already established a European service and distribution centre back in 2013 and have gradually expanded it since. That way, we are closer to our partners and can deliver support as quickly as possible,” Peter Obermeier explains. The senior business development manager is part of the Panasonic Cycle Technology division in the German town of Ottobrunn, a suburb of Munich. Six people work here and take care of service requests from the partner brands.
Since 2020, the German team also handles the distribution activities for different European countries. “By doing so, we can foster a much closer relationship with our OEM partners. And the retailers benefit as well. Being located in southern Germany means we can react much faster to any service request than from Japan. And the distribution channels are also significantly shorter,” Obermeier continues. He refers to the various services carried out in Ottobrunn, from the first contact with a potential OEM partner via LinkedIn to the signing of the final contract and from handling warranty claims to local marketing activities.
Positive market development
Panasonic’s positive market development in Europe over the last few years shows that this concept is well-received in the industry, especially in Eastern countries. For example, well-known Slovakian e-bike manufacturer, Kellys Bicycles, started using Panasonic motors as early as the 2020 season. Meanwhile, it has been joined by other famous brands like Crussis and Leader Fox. “These are well-known partners whose unit sales are on a par with other large European companies. In addition to our local service offerings, the excellent price-quality ratio of the Panasonic GX series also helps us to gain a presence in these markets,” Obermeier states.
Based on these success stories, it is a logical consequence that the Japanese manufacturer is currently working on further expanding its presence in the European market. In this context, Obermeier mentions Poland, the Netherlands, and Italy as countries with positive economic performance. To further support these developments, the company plans to expand its team in the Munich suburb of Ottobrunn with several positions.
Furthermore, the company plans to enhance its partnerships with its two European service partners, Biketec (FIT E-Bike) and BMZ. Obermeier: “The more brands you have in your portfolio, the more effort you have to put into customer support, product training and so on. Our strategy of establishing a service centre in the heart of Europe, in direct proximity to our partners, is certainly paying off.”
This article was sponsored by Panasonic.