German cyclists purchasing more high-end e-bikes

Source: Eurobike – The German bicycle market is booming. According to the latest figures from the Zweirad-Industrie-Verband (ZIV), Germany’s bicycle industry association, bicycle sales in Germany rose by 7 percent in 2016 to 2.6 billion euros. Once again, electrically assisted bicycles, i.e. e-bikes and pedelecs, were the drivers of sales growth, with a total of 605,000 units sold – a robust 13-percent increase over the previous year’s healthy sales volume. Yet, new statistics concerning cycling behavior and bicycle sales in Germany also hold warning signs that underline the need to intensify efforts to promote cycling as a means of transportation.

At first glance, business conditions for the bicycle industry appear to be sunny. A closer look reveals, above all, that e-bikes are leading the charge in sales growth. Yet, a number of parallel developments are somewhat clouding the industry’s mood. One of these is the growing discrepancy between volume and revenue. While the bicycle market’s total value continues to reach new heights due to the increasing market share of high-priced e-bikes, the total number of units sold actually dropped in 2016, for the first time in years. Total bicycle sales in Germany (i.e. those with and without electrical drives) declined by nearly 7 percent to 4,050,000 units – not a dramatic shortfall, yet one of noticeable scale for market stakeholders. The weakest 2016 sales performers identified by the ZIV were most of the non-electric product categories – in particular, city bikes, trekking bikes and mountain bikes.

As usual, the large majority of e-bikes sold were in the more traditional city and trekking segments, with a 45% share and a 35% share of e-bike sales volume, respectively. Nonetheless, sporty e-mountain bikes managed to rapidly increase their share of ebike sales volume in 2016 to 15%. Also noteworthy: Today, roughly one in 40 e-bikes sold in Germany is an electrically powered cargo bike. Still comparatively young, this product segment is gaining ground not only due to families looking for a modern alternative to buying a second car; more and more inner-city goods and services providers are also hopping on board.

An indirect, yet striking, correlation between bicycle sales and bicycle use has come to light in the German market. According to the latest figures released by a mobility panel commissioned annually by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), everyday bicycle use in Germany has recently declined: The share of residents’ journeys made by bicycle dropped from 13.2 percent in 2014 to only 11.8 percent in 2015. Meanwhile, the share of journeys made by motorized vehicle has slightly risen.

One bright spot concerning bicycle use in Germany, on the other hand, is tourism. In a recent study of bicycle use, the Allgemeine Deutsche Fahrrad-Club (ADFC) determined that the number of cycling holidaymakers rose significantly last year. In fact, the country’s cycling club found that some 5.2 million Germans enjoyed a cycling holiday in 2016, fully 16 percent more than in 2015.

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