Czech Republic: Regular Bicycles Down – E-Bikes Up
PRAGUE, Czech Republic – In the first 10 months of 2016 1.1 million cars were produced in the Czech Republic. This means that Czechia (the popular name for the Republic which is to be THE name) has the highest production per capita in the EU. Bicycle production stands at just about one third of the car total. However, cycling itself continues to be the most popular (sports) activity in the country.
Looking at the numbers published by the Czech statistics office, in the first nine months of 2016 about 190,000 classic bicycles were imported into the country and 353,000 exported, mainly to EU member states. The two totals are down 12% over the same period in 2015. This drop reflects the impact of the growing e-bike sales.
In the first nine months of 2016 more than 40,000 e-bikes were imported into Czechia. An overwhelming majority (about 33,000) were imported from China. 4,000 e-bikes came from the Netherlands. The average retail price for an e-bike on offer in Czechia stands at about €850. This represents an enormous gap compared to what an e-bike retails for in the Netherlands. In this big market for electric bicycles the average retail price stands currently at around €2,000.
The country’s export of e-bikes was up in the first nine months of 2016. The Czech factories exported nearly 37,000 e-bikes to Germany and another 11,000 to the Netherlands. The largest exporters are the Austrian-owned BPS Bicycle Industrial with a total export of some 100,000 bicycles and 19,000 Bosch powered e-bikes.
Czechia’s biggest bicycle producer is Dutch owned Bike Fun International. The company exported 163,000 regular bicycles and 15,500 e-bikes. The biggest part of that export was to the Netherlands. Other bike makers are 4EVER, producing its own brand as well as OEM product to, for example, Hartje. Bohemia Bike is exporting its popular brand Leader Fox.
Since OEM customized bicycle production has a long tradition in Czechia, brands like Duratec.eu is manufacturing tailor-made alloy and carbon frames and complete bicycles. Their production is exported to all continents.
A recent survey amongst the most prominent brand managers in Czechia made it abundantly clear that the size of the country’s e-bike market is shrouded in mysteries. Estimates run between 20,000 to 50,000 units. In light of the 40,000 imported e-bikes mentioned earlier, a total volume of 50,000 seems the more likely figure.
Currently there are at least 10 larger retailers in the country who focus solely on e-bikes and push the business forward. This year over 20 new e-bike rental ventures popped up as well. This is mainly in Prague where the Segway has been banned recently.
Local demand for e-bikes is led by city-trekking models with a step-through frame, similar to German consumers’ taste. Next to price Czech e-bike consumers are very focused on battery range and watt hours. Some local players, such Agogs or Lectron are offering capacities over 650Wh, using the newest 3500mAh and higher capacity cells.
Next to the established e-bike market players like Apache, Leader Fox, and Crussis there is a quite large distribution via private retail chains and online channels. Auto Kelly is a prominent example as well as Alza – the largest e-commerce portal in Czechia. Speed pedelecs are non-existent in CZ as the Ministry of Transport is ignoring them.