The 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 e-bike 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
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.
As the international bicycle industry’s leading business platform, Eurobike is more than just a barometer of trends and an exhibition of the latest innovations. It also serves as a showcase and meeting place for cycling mobility and cycling tourism, and is a key forum for lobbyists and policymakers. It attracts a correspondingly high degree of media coverage, thereby raising the profile of the bicycle in Germany and far beyond.