Claus Fleischer, CEO of Bosch eBike Systems, forecasts rapid growth – a peek across the pond:
“The eBike market is developing fast and furiously. We consider it to be realistic that in ten years’ time one bicycle in two newly sold in European core markets will be an eBike,” forecasts Fleischer. At present, nearly five per cent of the around 73 million bicycles in Germany are eBikes, but their share is rising steadily. Market analysis by Bosch eBike Systems outlines the status quo of this modern means of getting around and takes a look at the future.
The [European] eBike market: an overview
For 2017 the German Bicycle Industry Association (ZIV) forecasts national sales totalling 680,000 eBikes. That is a year-on-year increase of about 12 per cent. eBike sales across Europe totalled 1,667,000 in 2016, according to the industry association CONEBI. That was an increase of more than 22 per cent on 2015.
A representative study of the eBike market by Bosch, with 5,421 respondents in six European countries in June and July 2017, revealed that 10 per cent of the participants already own a pedelec (eBike) and 16 per cent are looking into buying one in the year ahead. Their focus is on eCity bikes (29 per cent), followed by eTrekking bikes (11 per cent), eUrban bikes (9 per cent) and eMountain bikes (8 per cent). 35 per cent of those interested said they had yet to decide on the kind of bike they had in mind. When it comes to buying an eBike the cycle dealer is the first port of call for 74 per cent. One in four is considering buying online and 22 per cent are looking to buy from a sports retailer.
Versatility is the eBike’s major advantage
The range of eBikes on the market remains wide and varied. A 2016 survey by the online platform e-bike-finder.com identified 2,556 different eBike models made by 80 manufacturers, with eCity and eTrekking bikes continuing to account for the lion’s share.
eBikes benefit from their versatility. For every other prospective eBiker who was interviewed for the Bosch study, using a pedelec as a means of getting around in their leisure time was a key factor, with excursions and cycle tours (40 per cent) next on the list. The opportunity to keep fit and healthy (38 per cent) came third.
Design integration becomes standard
eBikes are a part of lifestyle. They express an attitude and make a statement. Function and design are expected to harmonise. Design integration plays an increasingly important role. Models now exist that are hard to distinguish optically from a conventional bike and this trend is evident across all model groups. “In the future integrated concepts will be the benchmark. With the integrable battery Bosch combines practical benefit and high-quality bike design,” Fleischer says.
The eBike as an urban companion
In Germany about 20 million people commute by bicycle. Every second German commuter travels less than ten kilometres to work. Over distances of this kind the pedelec is the fastest means of urban transport. More than half of the Germans already appreciate the benefits and see “bikes with an electric tail wind” as a good alternative to the automobile. The findings of the Bosch eBike market study reinforce this approach. One prospective eBiker in three feels it is important to commute by eBike. Battery-powered cargo bikes are gaining ground in the commercial and private transport sector. They enable deliveries to be made by means of eco-friendly, space-saving concepts.
Politics promotes cycling, partly by increasing its federal budget funding to EUR 200 million a year with a view to increasing cycling’s share of transport from 12 to 15 per cent by 2020.
Sporty eBikes in the overtaking lane
eMountain bikes are the fastest-growing eBike market segment. In 2016 the share of eMTBs in eBike sales was around 15 per cent. These sporting eBikes contribute toward making the target groups even younger. “Already every third system we sell is a powerful Performance Line CX. Its drive is specially conceived for sporting use. We are convinced that eMountain bikes are the shape of things to come. In the long term eMTBs will outperform conventional mountain bikes in the sales stakes,” Fleischer says.
Greater safety in urban traffic
The benefits of eBike use are plain to see, so what is stopping people from cycling?
Nearly half of the respondents to a study commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) said they did not feel safe when cycling in road traffic. (…) “Reliable technology, adequate infrastructure and responsible behaviour by all road users are the triad for safe mobility in the future,” Fleischer says.
Policy demands underscore this. According to a BMVI study the interviewees want more cycle lanes and tracks (63 per cent), secure cycle parking facilities (55 per cent) and separation of cyclists from pedestrians (55 per cent).
(published by BOSCH, November 2017)