E-Bike Markets Maturing in China and US
SHANGHAI, China – For breaking up with the price competition rat race, Chinese e-bike companies started to focus more on product differentiation by launching models of unique style and technology. In the US market more and more EU brands started to explore opportunities.
US dealers and consumers started to accept higher-end e-bikes with better performance and quality. The IBD is becoming the strongest distribution channel while mass merchants are gradually withdrawing from the stage.
37 million e-bikes sold in China in 2013
According to China Bicycle Association, till the end of 2013, China has 181 million e-bikes running on the road. In 2013, e-bike sales reached 36.95 million units, a 5.4% increase compared with the previous year.
The saturation of major markets has made a second or third time purchase become the major contributor to 2013 sales. Meanwhile, lithium e-bike sales have increased by 44% to 2.31 million units. It is estimated that lithium e-bike sales will increase to 4 million units, accounting for 10% of the total e-bike sales within three years. Lithium e-bikes account for over 50% of the total e-bike export.
Simple, luxury, heavy duty and scooter have been the dominating styles for domestic China market. In 2013, products are further segmented to cater to the needs and tastes of specific consumer groups. Many brands adopted “single model marketing” strategy and launched models of unique style and features. Sugar-i from Aima and X-Men from Yadea are all successful examples of this strategy.
According to 2013 US customs data, US imported 86,992 electric bicycles, among which 71,387 came from China. Currie remains the largest e-bike importer in the US. From Jan to May 2014, 41,765 electric bikes were imported into the US, an increase of 33% compared with the previous year.
In the past, the majority of e-bikes were lead-acid ones sold through mass merchants like Wal-Mart at the average price of US$ 550. Today, IBDs are becoming the major distribution channel, selling e-bikes at an average price of US$ 2,000. Consumers are also willing to pay more for an e-bike with better performance and upgraded functionality. An increasing number of European e-bike and component exhibitors are trying to expand their sales in the US.
More is in Bike Europe’s June – July edition which will be available at bike-eu.com July 1.