E-bikes overtake regular bikes in sales in Germany

Electric bikes contribute to keeping the German bicycle industry 'remarkably stable in turbulent times'

Clock14:53, Friday 15th March 2024
The Grizl:ON is a new e-bike from German brand Canyon

© Canyon

The Grizl:ON is a new e-bike from German brand Canyon

The e-bike boom has hit a new landmark, with sales of electric bikes outperforming mechanical bikes in Germany in 2023.

Such an outcome was predicted in the second half of last year but new figures from the Bicycle Industry Association (ZIV) now confirm that’s the case.

A total of 2.1 million e-bikes were sold in Germany in 2023, accounting for 53% of the market, compared to the 1.9 million regular bikes sold.

In 2022, e-bikes were closing in at 48% of the market, but the growth has been dramatic over the last 10 years, with e-bikes accounting for just over 10% in 2013.

“With regard to the e-bike as a market and innovation driver, companies from the German bicycle industry are now taking on a pioneering role worldwide,” said Burkhard Stork, managing director of the ZIV.

“When it comes to e-bikes, 'Engineered in Germany' and 'Made in Europe' are the guarantees for engineering, design, quality, sustainability and value retention."

Sales are in fact down, but there are still positives

The figures are contextualised somewhat by the fact that, despite the 'growth', fewer e-bikes were sold in Germany in 2023 than in 2022. It would follow, then, that regular bike sales have fallen away even more sharply, and the downward trend since the industry-wide boom of the COVID-19 pandemic is indeed plain to see.

Bike sales in Germany peaked in 2020 at 5 million but have been falling ever since – to 4.7m in 2021, 4.6m in 2022, and now a greater drop to 4.0m in 2022.

The ZIV puts this down to economic headwinds and a “negative consumer climate”, but cuts a positive tone, praising the resilience of the bike industry and crediting e-bikes with off-setting a more serious decline.

That optimism is backed up by the industry’s overall economic value, with bicycle sales generating €7.06 billion in 2023, which is down from €7.36 billion in 2022, but up from €6.56b in 2021, when more bikes were produced and sold. Average prices for regular bicycles has fallen (€470 versus €500 in 2022) but e-bike prices have risen (€2,950 versus €2,800 in 2022), which is attributed to the growing popularity of e-cargo bikes.

The overall picture in Germany

When it comes to sales, the ZIV says it’s “outstanding” that specialist bicycle retailers hold a 77% share of the market, and a growing part of that is leasing via employers, with estimates that one in four bikes are now sold through ‘cycle to work’ schemes.

“The situation in specialist bicycle retailers is clearly positive – in terms of total sales, average prices, business expectations and inventory levels,” said Uwe Wöll, managing director of the Service and Bicycle Association (VSF). “Specialist retailers remain the mainstay of the bicycle industry and the dominant sales channel for high-quality bicycles and e-bikes.”

In terms of bicycle production in Germany, which had risen since the pandemic and has now tailed off from 2.6m units in 2022 to 2.3m units in 2023, which is still above the total for 2020 (2.2m). Taking into account bikes produced overseas on behalf of German brands, the figure rises to 3 million German bikes produced in 2023.

“Overall, the market data shows very clearly that people in Germany attach great importance to cycling in everyday life and in their leisure time and the associated high-quality products. The bicycle market is therefore stable at a high level and will have decoupled from the general negative consumer climate in 2023," said Stork.

“The rising costs of mobility, energy, rents and living standards as well as increasing environmental and health awareness are conditions that are currently and will certainly increase the popularity of bicycles and e-bikes in the future. Politicians must not forget the bicycle and must finally fully recognize the potential of the bicycle.”

For more information on e-bikes, make sure to check out our e-bike section, linked here.

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