EU-2010: E-bikes Rising Star in All Major Markets

Sales & Trends

Harsh winter conditions and a too-short summer hampered bike sales throughout Europe last year. This poor showing follows 2009s troublesome results. Since 2008, bike sales in the 27 member states of the European Union have dropped by close to two million units. Luckily, its not all bad.

EU-2010: E-bikes Rising Star in All Major Markets



For all EU-2010 bicycle statistics, click in list:

Top Ten EU Bike Suppliers in Units 2007 – 2010*

+/- ‘10 – ‘09
+ 17.7%
– 10.0%
Sri Lanka
+ 23.5%
+ 26.1%
+ 19.9%
+ 12.2%
– 4.3%
+ 22.1%
– 16.0%
+ 44.2%

*Table 4
Source: Eurostat

Electric bike sales broke the one million unit mark in 2010. Sales are forecast to grow to 3 million by 2015. With that e-bikes are becoming a vital, integral part of the bicycle business. Moreover, it brings lots of extra turnover as electric bikes are two to three times more expensive compared to a regular bicycle. Turnover that is eagerly needed, as for two years in a row now figures for the complete bike market are down. Except for imports. The number of shipments of bikes coming into ports such as Rotterdam, Antwerp or Hamburg is growing. A sign that the bike sector’s supply chain isn’t adapting to the general market trend.

Supply chain strains

A big rise in imports versus a drop in sales; that’s one of the remarkable things happening last year and it had its effects on this year’s bike business too. One should expect that with the close to ten percent growth of bike imports in 2010 (see table 3) there should be a drop in production at about the same level. That’s not the case. Production on the EU 27 member states dropped only 2.6%.

A closer look at last year’s production in Europe’s bike sector shows that of the major makers, only Cycleurope closed down one facility and announced to cut back production levels at another. In February 2010 Cycleurope CEO Tony Grimaldi revealed the closure of its Kildemoes factory in Denmark.
At that time he also stated that Cycleurope is, “Adapting the strategy to rationalize the production and having fewer production units.”

In addition to the closure of the Kildemoes factory the new strategy boiled down to switching part of the production of Bianchi’s mid-end products to Cycleurope’s France facilities and to outsourcing another part.

Apart from Cycleurope no other major shifts in production took place in 2010. However, by December 2010 Germany’s prominent manufacturer Prophete announced the closing of its facilities in Rottendorf and in Rheda-Wiedenbrück (Gütersloh) and a switch to outsourcing. The shutdown of both facilities didn’t have an impact on last year’s production numbers for the whole of Europe.

The ten percent import growth combined with only a slight drop in production resulted in inventory levels that were high at the end of 2010. The fourth quarter of last year in particular saw lower sales than expected due to cold weather and early snow.

But there were others factors that influenced 2010 bike sales and continue to have an effect on this year and the ones to come. Factors putting further strains on the supply chain. Accell Group NV, the international operating holding for bike company’s in Europe and the US, pointed at it in its 2010 financial report.

Accell said here, “As in 2009, the bicycle markets in 2010 were affected by further shifts in the types of bicycles sold. This made consumer demand more difficult to predict. Dealers were therefore more cautious in placing advance orders and building up stocks in the winter period. The generally less positive financing opportunities for dealers continued to play a role as well.”


In terms of units Accell’s 2010 bike sales dropped 4%, which is about on par with the total for the whole EU market. According to previous published Market Reports in this trade journal and reports from Bike Europe correspondents, sales (also referred to as deliveries to dealers and other distribution channels) dropped last year below the 19 million unit mark.

Sales amounted to 18,556,000 units or 2.9% less than the 2009 total. At first glance; not that big a drop. However, putting it more into perspective by comparing with the year that Europe was on a ‘high’ for bikes – 2008 – it becomes evident how much sales have suffered. Since 2008 bike sales in Europe dropped with a big 9.9% and in terms of volume – close to two million units (1,840,000 bicycles).

In Italy (an 8% drop), The Netherlands (7%) and France (3.5%) the biggest drops in bikes sales at major EU markets were recorded (see table 1). As for the other countries that are big in bikes; Germany saw flat sales. The same goes for the UK. The Scandinavian countries had to cope even more than the rest of Europe with harsh winter conditions, resulting in declining sales in Finland and Denmark. Only sports crazy Sweden registered a small sales increase.

In almost every Eastern European country bike sales dropped. With purchasing power under even more pressure here compared to other EU countries, bicycles proved a less attractive product than in previous years. Only in Poland was an increase in sales recorded, but this could be caused by a ‘correction’ on previous statistics, as the new Polish bike industry association supplied the sales and production figures for 2010. A drop in purchasing power and uncertainty on the general economy hampered bike sales in Portugal and Greece too. For Spain the same situation applies as in Poland; the new Spanish AMBE industry association provided the 2010 sales figure.

An indication as to which bike categories proved to be best sellers last year is provided by the 2010 financial report of the Accell Group. It said, “Demand for electric bikes, mountain bikes and special (target group) bikes in the middle and upper segments of the market developed positively, while the traditional city bikes and children’s bikes sold less well than in 2009.”


The close to one million bikes sold by Accell Group in 2010 had an average price of € 449. The average sales price in Germany stood, according to industry association ZIV, at € 460 in 2010. Compared to five years ago, when the average sales price in Germany was € 345, the price increased by one third! Is that the result of electric bike sales? Undoubtedly the increased sales of e-bikes is having a big impact, as electric bikes developed into a trend on the German market in 2010. A total of 200,000 e-bikes were sold; up 50,000 or 33% compared to 2009.

According to Siegfried Neuberger, General Manager of ZIV, the e-bike trend will not stop there. “This segment will become even more important for our industry in the years to come.” Says Neuberger. “Currently about 5% of all bicycles sold in Germany are e-bikes. This figure will grow to 10-15% in 2018, resulting in a volume between 400,000-600,000 units annually.”

For this year 2011 ZIV expects a market volume of 300,000 electric bicycles. 2010 bike sales in the Netherlands saw all segments drop except for the e-bike. Electric bike sales rose by almost 8% to 165,000 units. The success of the e-bike is unsurpassed and this segment even passed the city bike category – traditionally the bestselling category in Holland by far. Money-wise electric bikes accounted for close to 40% of the total dealer turnover while the average sales price of each bike sold in the Netherlands climbed to a record-breaking €916 thanks to the e-bike trend.

In France also things started happening with regard to e-bikes in 2010. A 60% increase in sales was recorded. However, the total volume is still small, with about 40,000 units sold in 2010. The same goes for Italy. Industry association ANCMA couldn’t provide sales data on e-bikes in 2010 but reports that electric bikes are becoming a familiar site on the streets of Milan, Rome, Bologna and Turin. Accell recently stated that it is expanding the e-bike range of its Italian subsidiary Atala, as there’s lots of interest for e-bikes.


About 11.5 million bicycles were produced by the 27 EU member states last year. To be precise; 11,636,000 (see Table 2). That’s down 2.6% compared to a year earlier, when 11,946,000 units rolled off the assembly lines. Contrary to bike imports the production closely followed the sale of bicycles in 2010, which as mentioned earlier increased 2.9%.

Comparing the 2010 production numbers with 2008, the trend of dropping local production and the switch to outsourcing bikes becomes even more clear. In 2008 close to 13 million bikes were produced within the European Union. In 2010 one and a quarter million bikes fewer were produced compared to the 2008 number, which boils down to a drop of 9.7% in two years.


According to EU’s data bureau Eurostat close to 9.3 million bikes were imported into the European Union’s markets from countries outside Europe; mainly Asia. Compared to the 8.5 million bicycles imported in 2009, this represents a 9.6% increase. The average value per imported bike stood at €112.65; up 7.8% on the €104.50 average value in 2009. The close to 8% increase is on par with the increase in sales prices for bicycles recorded in 2010 due to higher labour costs in China and an increase in material costs.

A closer look per country also shows the supply chain wasn’t adapting to the general market trends. Of Europe’s major markets this was particularly the case in the Netherlands, where despite a 7% drop in sales, imports increased by 23.6%. But one could argue the Netherlands is a transit country for imported bikes, where shipments come in at the Rotterdam port for re-export to Germany and other EU countries. But that’s not the case for Italy.

Here sales dropped 8% while imports increased by 20.4%. Germany is the country that had its supply chain adapt well to flat sales in 2010. Bike imports into Germany dropped 9.4%. As in years before, 2010 the United Kingdom was the biggest bike importer for the whole of Europe again in 2010. 3.2 million bikes rolled into the country last year; 7% more than the year before.






Comment on this article