<b>Switzerland 2009:</b> Sales Up while e-Bikes Boom

Sales & Trends

According to the statistics of the countrys cycling industry association, Velosuisse, 349,900 new bicycles were sold in Switzerland last year. Thats 7.3%

<b>Switzerland 2009:</b> Sales Up while e-Bikes Boom

SOLOTHURN, Switzerland – According to the statistics of the country’s cycling industry association, Velosuisse, 349,900 new bicycles were sold in Switzerland last year. That’s 7.3% more than in 2008. Despite, or perhaps because of the difficult economic situation, both Sport and City bikes found more buyers in 2009, while the demand for electric bikes doubled, from 12,600 to 24,000 units sold. However, the Swiss trade disagrees on the reliability of these numbers.

Swiss 2009 Sales Statistics

  Sales +/-2008*) Market Share   
  in units   Dealers Retail Chains
Sportbikes without fenders, lighting, carriers etc.        
MTB 26” 128,196 -0.8% 76% 24%
Cross 28” 17,052 25.1% 83.9% 16.1%
Road Racers 13,801 -0.7% 91.9% 8.1%
Junior 20-24” 35,709 2.5% 49.1% 50.9%
Total Sportbikes 194,758 1.6% 72.9% 27.1%
Trekking/City Bikes with fenders, lighting, carriers etc.        
City 28” 62,568 2% 61.9% 38.1%
City 26” 26,011 -3% 47% 53%
Junior 20-24” 37,238 33.9% 20.2% 79.8%
Special bikes 5442 -5.6% 31% 69%
e-Bikes 23,886 89.5% 84.4% 15.6%
Total City/Trekking 155,145 15.4% 58% 42%
Total 349,903 7.3% 63.5% 36.5%
Value in Million CHF 383 10% 81.5% 18.5%

Total Turnover Bike Sector (incl. Bike Wear / Service / Repairs) approx. CHF 790 million
Number of people employed approx. 6300
Bicycle Parc 2009: approx. 3.9 Million.

Source: velosuisse / Report h+h
*) 2008 corrected figures for sales at retail chains

For years the Swiss bike sales statistics published by Velosuisse have been reason for debate and doubt. The Swiss industry magazine Ride Business contributed to the statistics debate by publishing a report on 2009 sales stating that about 100,000 more bikes were delivered to dealers and other sales channels in 2009 – resulting in the highest domestic delivery number since the end of the mountain bike boom. The industry magazine based its report on import statistics from the Swiss Federal Customs Administration and a survey of Swiss bike companies. Ride Business notes bike imports in particular grew considerably last year, with an increase of 4.1% (more on the Ride Business report in the Box article on this page).
The remarkable difference of 100,000 delivered bikes in 2009  can’t be explained away by ascribing it to more toys and children’s bikes, as well as hard to quantify Internet purchases, privately-made imports, and gray imports, such as Velosuisse did in previous years.

Retail Chains

Velosuisse President Andreas Gubler knows how to put the Ride Business figures in perspective. First, the customs statistics name bike imports only. The Velosuisse statistics cover actual sales. Moreover, it is complicated by the combination of several positions in the customs data (e.g. frame or general accessories for bicycles and motorized bicycles) so that an accurate category assignment is impossible. On the other hand, Gubler stresses that the association obtained accurate figures for its latest survey. Six major retail chains, as well as department stores chains, provided their sales figures, as did two of the most important direct sellers, and three discounters. Gubler also says the six major chains provided their 2008 sales numbers, making it possible to have a comparison to last year’s figures.
However, this brings about a confusing situation. The 2008 numbers and this year’s figures diverge completely. What is also striking is the fact the industry association doesn’t mention domestic production at all. It has been doing that for years now, despite the fact that bike production is Switzerland stays constant at about 45,000 units.

Dealers lose

The association could not decide, despite its new sources, for a more contemporary categorization (direct sellers/retail chains/discount stores – instead of only major distributors), but dealers should be warned by the new numbers. Sales of retail chains and discount stores shot up to 127,585 units and confirmed our theory established one year ago that their proportion of the total should be much higher, at 36.5%. With that, 2009 signals the first year that the dealer trade share has fallen below the two-thirds mark. Ten years ago it was still three-quarters!
Even with stagnating sales numbers dealers achieved an increase of CHF 20 million (€ 13.9mn) to 312 million (€ 216.8mn), at least in terms of turnover and money, mainly thanks to their excellent e-Bike business. In contrast, the major retail chains and distributors managed to increase their sales 27% from CHF 56 (€ 38.9mn) to 71 million (€ 49.3mn), with which their market share jumped to 18.5%. They saw City bike sales drop, but were for the first time noticeable in the e-Bike business.

All categories up

Sport bikes – which in Switzerland include mountain bikes, cross, and road racers, was the biggest bike category in 2009, with 194,700 units sold – an increase of 1.6% compared to 2008. Pure MTBs as well as road racers sales are said to have declined slightly. The category that includes City and Trekking bikes (Freizeit/Alltagsvelos, equipped with lights, luggage carrier, chain guard, etc) brought it to 131,200 units (+7.8%). As said, sale of e-Bikes almost doubled to nearly 24,000 units. 

Dumping Speculations: China-made Bikes Occupy 1/3 of Swiss Market

Will the EU be flooded with China made bikes once the current dumping duty on these bikes expires mid July 2010? An indication of a future scenario once anti-dumping duties are dropped can be found in Switzerland, where Chinese manufactured bikes enter the market duty free. Swiss 2009 market data indicates a strong import growth, with China taking up one third of the total volume.

Contrary to the Velosuisse published statistics on Swiss bike sales, the Swiss industry magazine Ride Business says that 449,877 bikes were brought to the market last year. This number is 3.5% higher than in 2008 and has never before reached this level in this millennium. Ride Business arrives at this conclusion through the import statistics of the Swiss Federal Customs Administration and a survey conducted at the remaining Swiss bike makers. According to the Swiss bike business magazine, the number of imported bikes showed considerable growth with a 4.1% increase in 2009. The total import volume stood at 404,077 units, breaking the 400,000 mark for the first time since the end of the mountain bike boom.

China is Switzerland’s biggest bicycle supplier. In 2009 132,111 bikes came from the People’s Republic, taking up 32.6% of the total import volume. The Chinese bikes entered the country at an average import value of €111.00. The rest of the imported bicycles are considerably more expensive. The average import value of the total import volume amounts to €290.00 in 2009. Compared to 2008, the average import value increased 16.1%.

Until 2005, Taiwan was the number one bike supplier to Switzerland. In 2006 that position was taken over by China. In 2007 China exported twice as many bikes to Switzerland as Taiwan (131,000 versus 72,000).
In 2008 the 27 European Union member states imported close to 736,000 bicycles from China, making the country the number 3 bike supplier to the EU. With that volume China had a 7.8% share in the total number of bikes imported from outside the European Union.

Swiss Twoo Show Can not Convince

BASEL, Switzerland – In order to enhance its profile, the Swiss ‘national’ Bike Show Twoo has with the 3rd edition focused in particular on City & Trekking Bikes as well as e-Bikes. However, the show which took place from 11 – 14 February, could still not convince.

With about 33,000 visitors Twoo reached almost the same resonance as in previous years. But the bike show isn’t that worried at all about visitor numbers as Twoo is acting as a side show to Switzerland’s largest consumer show Muba. Disappointing was the decline of the number of exhibitors; the absence of companies from the sports sector could not be compensated with the strong brands in City & Trekking and e-Bikes.

Only thanks to large scale events and test tracks (for instance BMX, Bike Polo) the organizers were able to fill one hall. Industry insiders claim that a (too) high square meter booth price – nearly as much as at Eurobike – is counterproductive.

The continued absence of the main Swiss bike brands (they were as usual represented through their bigger dealers) made the three major Swiss direct sellers Simpel, Stöckli and Thömus to grab their chance – they were again present with prominent booths.

The main attraction of this year’s Twoo was the (again) extended e-Bike test track (organized by NewRide) – it underlines the growing interest in Switzerland for electric bikes. The test vehicles of the 10 brands were constantly in use. Less great was the interest (or courage) to test drive historic high wheel bikes. The Sports Museum Basel was with a special exhibition on the history of the bicycle a guest exhibitor.

Conclusion: This year’s Twoo left a mixed impression. Like other new fairs (Bike Expo) also Twoo requires stamina for "coming over the hill". However, the date for the 4th edition is actually not yet confirmed…
One week later the same organizer, Messe Schweiz, hold its traditional motorbike show at its Zurich Fairground; for the second time Swiss-Moto had a whole hall with the e-Scooter special show, "All Electric" by NewRide. This support program for electric two-wheelers is increasingly attracting attention as the popularity for electric bicycles is growing.

The choice doubled compared to last year’s premiere: 12 brands showed 30 vehicles; A2B, Elmoto, IO Scooter, Mobilec, Oxygen, PGO, Quantya, Sylent Wheels, Tante Paula, Vectrix, Vespino and Zero invited for a test drive on the 120-meter circuit.

During the 2009 only 553 e-Scooters were sold in Switzerland. Still a modest figure while almost half was sold to the Swiss Post that uses the e-Scooter for their daily deliveries. Industry experts agree, however, believe that this segment could see a similar boom as in e-Bikes.


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