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the market

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Pushing the market 01

The electric motor is called for to push the bicycle market to the top of a hill that looks decidedly challenging. Sales data for 2016 confirm the European trend: while traditional bicycle sales are falling, the e-bike ones are growing. According to Eurostat data, imports of traditional bikes declined by over 10%, reaching what is probably the lowest ever level of 6.7 million bicycles. On the other hand, imports of 250W/25 km/h e-bikes increased by 63.64% compared to 2015, exceeding one million units (1.187.835), with China dominating the import market with a share of 80%. 

PZeroVeloThis trend can also be observed in the individual European States, albeit with different numbers and data, according to the circumstances. In the Netherlands, for example, the number of e-bikes sold remained substantially identical to that of 2015, suffering a small setback after years of growth. However, the 270,000 units sold in 2016 are linked to a general market trend that is anything but positive. As a matter of fact, 2016 saw the total bicycle sales volume of the Netherlands fall by 5.7% and reach 928,000 units - the lowest result since 1987. So it is only thanks to the strenuous resistance of the e-bike industry that the turnover (+4.2%) got closer to one billion euros. In this way, the e-bike industry rose by one more percentage point of market share (from 28 to 29%), thus becoming the second product category in terms of sales after city/urban and touring bikes and placing the average price across distribution channels for the first time above 1,000 euros (1.010 euros). According to Wouter Jager, President of the RAI bike sector (the association of bike and car manufacturers), "the market share of 29% reached this year is not necessarily the highest limit for e-bikes, as we think that this category still has a potential for growth", underlying that its manufacturers are currently more than 90.

Germany is undergoing a similar situation, as the overall sector suffered a decline of 6.9% compared to 2015, falling to 4.05 million units, while data relating to electric bikes saw a double-digit growth, both in terms of sales and exports, guaranteeing an increase in the average price and turnover (which rose from 2.42 to 2.6 billion). In 2016, 605,000 new e-bikes entered the German market, with a 13% increase compared to the previous year and an average retail price per bike of 643, - euros (+15%). The market share of electric bikes increased up to 15% and the ZIV (the two-wheeler industry association) expects that this figure will grow up to 18-20% in the medium term, and even up to 30% in the long term. E-bikes “made in Germany” and sold abroad registered another extremely positive result with a 66% increase up to 233,000 units.

Pushing the market 02

In France, it was instead the whole market to grow for the third consecutive year, with a total sales volume increase of 1.3% (over 3 million units for the first time since 2012) and a turnover of 1,023 billion euros (+6.4%). The growth of the e-bike sector was even sharper rising up to 134,000 units with a 31.4% increase compared to the previous year. The leading models are city/urban and trekking bikes as well as e-MTBs, which are in constant growth (+72% with 15,300 units already sold on the market). As stated by Jérôme Valentin, CEO of Cycleurope France and co-president of the Union Sport & Cycle federation, 14 million people have hopped on a bike over the past twelve months in France. 

The French industry trend – with a slow start and a sharp rise in more recent years – paves the way to markets such as that of the United Kingdom. While still with relatively low sales (+50,000 units sold over the year and a major uncertainty as per a significant price increase due to Brexit), the UK nevertheless shows signs of growth.

The Italian situation reproduces the European trend: apart from an overall sales drop of 2.6%, e-bikes registered a 120% increase with 124,400 units sold in 2016 and 108,800 ones imported from abroad (+148,9% compared to the previous year). Though with absolute values still small, the growth of exports is also encouraging (+135,3%, from 3,400 to 8,000 units with e-MTBs taking up 50% of total sales). The USA underwent a real boom: in the first six months of 2017, the American industry turnover doubled from 16.7 to 31.8 billion dollars, thus reproducing the same trend of units sold (from 8,213 to 15,930).

The potential of such a constant and sharply growing industry has induced companies to invest in this segment. It is no coincidence that Pirelli presented its new Cycl-e tyre at the German Eurobike 2017 Show. This product is specifically designed for electric-power assisted bicycles following the Company’s long-standing experience in the motorcycle sector. Pirelli’s new tyres boast a high wet grip performance and greater resistance to punctures, making the e-bike experience safer and more comfortable.

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