Electric bike sales continue to drive growth for German bike industry

28th March, 2017 in Electric bike news

Industry figures tracking sales of bicycles in Germany show that with 4.05 million bicycles sold in Germany last year, units sold dipped 6.9% compared to 2015.

Describing 2016 as a ‘difficult year,’ ZIV, Germany’s industry cycle association, said adverse weather weakened sales in the first half of last year.

While stating that the second half of the year saw an improvement in both Germany’s weather and the industry’s bottom line, Siegfried Neuberger, Managing Director of ZIV, said: “The industry is strongly influenced by the weather conditions during the bicycle season. We must not forget that the years 2014 and 2015 were excellent for the industry. We are very confident about the future.”

Despite the challenges, sales revenue increased by approximately 7% – largely due once again to the increase in electric bike sales, which come with a higher price tag. The estimated overall turnover for Germany’s cycle, parts and components industry in 2016 reached €5.2 billion according to ZIV.

Last year’s growth in electric bikes sales in Germany once again far exceeded expectations, with 605,000 units sold – an increase of 13% compared to healthy figures registered for the previous year, say ZIV.

Electric bike sales in Germany now claim 15% of the overall bike market, with ZIV saying this is likely to continue to rise, citing up to 30% market share being possible in the ‘longer term’. With the continued increase in uptake, Ziv also now estimate there are around 3 million electric bikes in use on Germany’s roads.

The association credits industry advances in design and technology, along with the ‘enormous’ choice of electric bike models on offer for differing uses in Germany – with those advances increasing sales on both home turf as well as increasing export figures 66% to 233,000 units.

While the headline figures yield good news for those selling electric bikes, one organization believes that, whatever the weather, relying on the higher price ticket of e-bikes as the sole driver of overall cycling industry growth risks ignoring a recently reported decline in German residents using their bicycles for everyday journeys.

Eurobike, the trade show held in Friedrichshaften each year, has raised concerns that not enough is being done to promote cycling as a means of transport. They say: “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.”

Describing a number of “parallel developments that are somewhat clouding the industry’s mood” Eurobike goes on to say that while the 7% drop in total bicycle sales may not be a “dramatic shorfall”, it is “one of noticeable scale for market stakeholders.”

Eurobike are highlighting the latest figures from an annual household survey commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) which shows a recent change in cycling behaviour. The mobility figures show everyday bicycle journeys dipping from 13.2% in 2014 to 11.8% in 2015. At the same time the report shows an increase in journeys made by motorised vehicles – behavioural changes that Eurobike sees as “warning signs that underline the need to intensify efforts to promote cycling as a means of transportation.”

On a more positive note, cycling holidays in Germany rose 16% in 2016 compared to the previous year, with 5.2 million enjoying a cycling holiday in Germany last year.

Furthermore, Eurobike point to the versatility of the electric cargo bike as a further means of replacing motorised vehicles on Germany’s roads, saying: “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.”

ZIV, in tandem with other German cycling associations, is campaigning for e-cargo bike grants to reduce inner city congestion, plus a minimum investment of €800 million per year to enable the bicycle to play a ‘central role in a sustainable transport system’ by improving infrastructure and bicycle parking.