News Article

Growth on All Fronts for EU Bike Industry in 2014

Sales & Trends

BRUSSELS, Belgium – 2014 was a very positive year for the European bicycle industry. EU employment, production, and sales grew compared to 2013 figures. This is the conclusion of an economic study carried out by CONEBI, the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry.

Growth on All Fronts for EU Bike Industry in 2014

According to that study, named European Bicycle Industry & Market Profile (BIMP) 2015 with 2014 statistics, bicycle sales in the 28 EU member states was up 2.3%. A total of 20,234,000 bicycles (including e-bikes) were sold throughout the European Union last year. Production in 2014 also increased by 5.1%, to a total of nearly 12 million bikes; again including electric bicycles.

Production

Digging deeper into the CONEBI study it becomes clear that bike production in the EU increased by 579,000 units to a total of 11,939,000. By the way, this total is still lagging behind EU production levels from before the economic crisis hit in 2008. In that year production was about 10% higher and stood at 13,246,000 bicycles.

Top Ten EU Bike Producing Countries 2014 (x 1,000 units)*

Italy 2,729,000
Germany 2,139,000
Poland 991,000
Bulgaria 950,000
The Netherlands 850,000
Romania 820,000
Portugal 720,000
France 630,000
Hungary 370,000
Spain 356,000

*Including e-bikes
Source: CONEBI

The production total in the CONEBI study includes e-bikes. This leads to the obvious question. Is the production growth a result of the e-bike trend? That trend caused an increase in sales of some 225,000 e-bikes in 2014. About 49.5% of all e-bikes sold in the EU are imported ones. So, the conclusion is that about 20% of the production growth can be attributed to electric bicycles.

Italy biggest in production

Looking at bike production per country, Italy is by far the biggest bike producing country within the European Union. That country produced some 2.7 million bikes in 2014, which accounts for about one quarter of the total EU production. Italy produces some 20% more bikes than Germany, where 2.1 million bikes were produced in 2014. Poland ranks third among EU bike producing nations, with a total close to one million units; Bulgaria is 4th with 950,000 bikes, and the Netherlands 5th with some 850,000 units.

According to the CONEBI study Portugal takes 7th spot among EU’s biggest bike producing countries, with 720,000 units. This looks to be a too-low number. In particular as the country’s industry association Abimota recently told this trade journal that 2014 production stood at 1.6 million units. As RTE is based in Portugal, which is one of Europe’s biggest bike production facilities supplying Decathlon (Europe’s biggest bike seller), it seems that the 1.6 million total is more likely than the 720,000 units named in the CONEBI study.

Last year’s 5.1% production growth brought about an increased number of EU workers employed in the European bicycle, e-bike, and bicycle parts & accessories industries. 27,670 EU workers were employed by the industry in 2014 compared to 26,569 in 2013. This is an increase of 4.1%.

Low estimate on e-bike sales

Beyond the production numbers, to what extent the European bicycle market is recovering from the economic crisis is also reflected in the figures for 2014 bike sales. For the first time since 2012 sales broke through the 20 million units mark, according to the CONEBI study. A total of 20,234,000 bikes were sold to consumers, including electric bikes – up 2.3% on the 2013 total.

How far (electric) bicycle sales are behind its all-time record, is also reflected in the BIMP report. That sales pinnacle was reached in 2007, when 21,344,000 bikes were sold. It means that currently sales are 1.1 million units below the European record. It could also be less than 1.1 million units. In particular as the study of Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry shows a low estimate on e-bike sales in the EU in 2014.

BIMP study

The BIMP study states that sales in this category grew by 25.6%, to 1,139,000 units. In its June/July edition, which contained a 2014 Market Report for e-bikes imports and sales, this trade journal concluded that the 2014 volume of the e-bike, e-MTB and speed e-bike market in Europe stood at 1,325,000 units.

That Germany is the biggest bike market in Europe with a sales volume of 4.1 million units, is not big news. However, that Great Britain ranks second place with 3,630,000 bikes sold in CONEBI’s list is a remarkable revelation. In particular because for years and years GB bike sales were estimated at around 3 million units.

But with the Olympics and a couple of Tour de France winners, as well as an increased focus on bike mobility, evidenced by public bikes in London as well as some other cities, “There’s a growing interest in sports cycling and increases in commuter cycling, especially in London,” says CONEBI-member Bicycle Association Great Britain (BAGB) in the BIMP study.

UK market

Despite the fact that the UK industry does not collect any data on production and sales and relies on official import stats, BAGB said sales of bicycle stood in 2014 at 3.6 million units; 8% higher than in 2013.

By the way; that sales in Great Britain is growing is confirmed by Accell Group’s latest financial report on the holding company’s 1st half year results. In it, Accell reports a 24% turnover increase for what the company calls ‘Rest of Europe’ including GB (the Netherlands and Germany are separately named). Next to France, Great Britain is a main market for Accell, as Raleigh is owned by the holding company.

Europe’s 3rd biggest bike market is France with close to 3 million units sold followed by Italy with 1.7 million units. The top five bike nations are completed by Poland, with close to 1.1 million units.

The country that only ranks on the 7th place with regard to the biggest bike markets – the Netherlands – leads the 28 EU countries in the average price for which bikes were sold in 2014. Including VAT, this stands at a huge €844 in the Netherlands. This average retail price is highly influenced by e-bikes. 223,000 electric bikes were sold in Holland in 2014. With that they hold close to a 25% share in the total sales volume and have a big impact on average sales prices. The same goes for Germany where the average price stood at €528. 480,000 high-priced e-bikes were sold in the country in 2014.

Imports

What is not in CONEBI’s BIMP study is how the import of bicycles into the 28 EU member states evolved in 2014. To find out more on that Bike Europe turned to the Eurostat database. It showed that close to 7.7 million bikes were imported into the EU in 2014. This number is excluding the import of e-bikes, e-MTBs, and speed e-bikes as they are listed in the Eurostat database under a different CN code compared to, (regular) “Bicycles, not motorized, with ball bearings.”

EU Bicycle Imports Top Ten Supplying Countries 2014 – 2013*

Rank 2014 Country Units 2014 Units 2013 (rank ’13) 14 vs ’13
1 Taiwan 1.855.668 1.872.094 (1) -0,87%
2 Cambodia 1.203.973 1.385.974 (2) -13,13%
3 Philippines 909.287 790.229 (3) 15,06%
4 Thailand 686.771 643.293 (4) 6,75%
5 Bangladesh 659.843 534.057 (5) 23,55%
6 China 437.307 452.378 (6) -3,33%
7 Tunisia 424.239 346.191 (8) 22,54%
8 Sri Lanka 388.262 391.937 (7) -0,93%
9 Turkey 296.720 241.023 (11) 23,10%
10 India 202.664 201.158 (10) 0,74%

*excluding e-bikes
Source: Eurostat

The total of 7.7 million imported bicycles is up 3.9% on the 2013 total of 7.4 million units. What’s striking is that last year imports from EU’s main bike supplying countries were under pressure. Imports from Taiwan remained stagnant at 1,855,000 units. Imports from Cambodia dropped by a significant 13.1%, to 1.2 million units.

The Philippines

Imports from the Philippines however, were up big; 15.1% to 910,000 units. As bike imports from the Philippines close to doubled in the last three years, the country was inspected by the European Commission regarding illegal circumvention of dumping duties, by the re-packaging of bikes originating in China. On May 18 this lead to the imposition of 48.5% anti-dumping duty on bikes imported from the Philippines. Procycle Industrial is the single bike producer in the country that is excluded from this measure.

The same goes for three Cambodia-based bike makers; A&J, SmartTech, and Speedtech. Cambodia’s bike exports to Europe were also under investigation by the European Commission. This brought about a 48.5% dumping duty that is now also levied on the bike imports from this country into the EU. The three named companies are excluded.

In particular, bike imports from Bangladesh developed significantly in 2014. Growth stood at 23.5%, to 660,000 units in total. Also, the imports from Tunisia (425,000) and Turkey (close to 300,000) saw increases of over 20%. India meanwhile, can celebrate a comeback into the Top Ten listing of biggest bike supplying nations to the EU.

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