Industry has a solid start into the cycling season
An assessment of the business climate for the 1st half of 2016Germans own some 72 million bicycles. Whether city or touring bike, racing bike or mountain bike, single-speed or e-bike, the streetscape in cities and municipalities has shown one thing above all in recent years: the bike is popular as a mobility partner like never before.
A glance at the figures from the recent past confirms this. The bicycle industry was able to enjoy significant growth over the last two years. While bicycle production remained stable at a high level, it was e-bikes in particular that helped the industry grow. The manufacturers had factors including the excellent weather to thank for this.
In contrast, the 1st half of 2016 did not show itself from its best side in terms of weather. Consumers were not in any in any real mood for bikes up until June. Nevertheless, the figures reported by the vehicle, component, and part producers for the first two quarters were surprising.
The production of bicycles and e-bikes in the 1st half of 2016 was just below the previous year, with an estimated 1.6 million units produced, thus remaining at a high level. However, the bicycle industry association is proceeding on the assumption that sales of bicycles and e-bikes declined by 5 to 8%. Accordingly, some 2.7 million vehicles were sold through the distribution channels from January to June. Because the share of e-bikes in the overall bicycle market increased again, sales nevertheless reached the level of the comparable period in 2015.
According to the Federal Statistics Office, imports of bicycles and e-bikes to Germany declined by 1.4%. The proportion of e-bikes of imports in the period January-June was 19%.
Exports of bicycles and e-bikes fell by 6.8% in the 1st half of 2016. The proportion of e-bikes of exports in the period January-June was 21%. The bicycle industry association also attributes this decline to the poor weather conditions in key export markets.
E-bike sales rose slightly
Despite the less-than-ideal weather conditions in the 1st half of 2016, the bicycle industry association expects slightly rising volumes in terms of e-bikes sold in the full year 2016. The association’s forecast is for 560,000 units, which would represent an increase of about 5%.
In addition to the classic models of city and trekking, sporty e-bikes such as mountain e-bikes are becoming increasingly important. This shows that the audience is getting younger, and that the e-bike is finding greater and greater acceptance among younger consumers.
The conditions are getting much better
"The bicycle combines business with pleasure. And there are many advantages of cycling: no noise, few emissions, it is environmentally friendly and promotes good health (…) The bicycle has become an important mode of transport. (…) Germany is not only a car country but also a bicycle country.” Angela Merkel’s words at the opening of Eurobike 2013 resonate more today than ever before.
The bicycle is taking an ever greater share in overall mobility. The calls on policymakers to support this trend by improving bicycle infrastructure have been heard not only by the states but also increasingly on the federal level.
Bicycle highways are to be better promoted in the future within the limits of constitutional possibilities. And the Federal Council of Germany recommends "examining in the further legislative process how the legal framework for a significantly greater use of bicycles with electric support and with electric drive also in industrial mobility can be improved.” Monetary support for electric mobility in regard to e-bikes is also being publicly discussed.
The bicycle industry players are of course happy about such a development. The representative bodies from industry, trade, and the representatives of cyclists are thus finally seeing their years of intensive promotional work for better cycling infrastructure finally confirmed.
The Zweirad-Industrie-Verband e.V. is the national advocacy organization and service provider of the German and international bicycle industry. This includes manufacturers and importers of bicycles, bicycle components, accessories, and e-bikes.
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