Traffic: Corona boom over with wheels - e-bikes as a beacon of hope

The Corona boom for the German bicycle industry is over.

Traffic: Corona boom over with wheels - e-bikes as a beacon of hope

The Corona boom for the German bicycle industry is over. The warehouses at the dealers are overflowing, the manufacturers can assemble far more bicycles after overcoming supply chain problems than appear to be sellable on the market. This became clear at the joint press conference of the associations of the two-wheeler industry (ZIV) and the bicycle trade (VDZ).

After three years with a scarce supply and hardly negotiable prices, interested customers can now expect inexpensive offers. The experts only expect continued strong demand for e-bikes.

The consequences of the e-bike flood

The situation of scarce goods with extremely stable prices changed into the opposite from autumn 2022, reported Thomas Kunz from the VDZ trade association. Domestic manufacturers and importers "suddenly" delivered large quantities of wheels, so that models from the years 2021, 2022 and some as early as 2023 were now in stores at the same time. The dealers could only have canceled or postponed their orders "very sporadically". Ultimately, they had to accept everything they had initially ordered in vain during the Corona years. According to the ZIV, 820,000 more wheels were delivered in Germany last year than were sold.

Kunz describes the consequences of the bike flood: After the extreme shortage, there are now stocks and binding pre-orders in the trade that far exceed the actual annual requirement for 2023. "As a result, almost all retailers had space and liquidity problems," reports the association. Sales with relatively high price reductions initially started with online providers and have now also been continued with specialist retailers over the turn of the year.

In the case of non-motorized bicycles in particular, dealers do not know where the journey should go when buyers have tighter leisure budgets. Last year almost every second bicycle sold in Germany had an electric motor. 2.2 million e-bikes meant an increase of 10 percent and a sales record, while conventional "bio-bikes" fell back by 300,000 to 2.4 million units. The sales record of around 5 million bicycles from the first Corona year 2020 remained.

The industry's hopes are increasingly pinned on e-bikes, which may overtake conventional bikes in terms of sales for the first time this year. More and more bike leasing offers from employers are also contributing to this. The number of motorized bicycles has already grown to more than 10 million out of a total of almost 83 million bicycles in Germany. They are the "central driver" for a growing market, says ZIV Managing Director Burkhard Stork. Mountain bikes with powerful e-drives are currently in particularly high demand.

The e-bike as a status symbol

"Leasing has helped a lot in establishing the bicycle as a high-quality means of transport. The e-bike has now become a status symbol and is often preferred to a sports car," says Volker Dohrmann from bicycle manufacturer Stevens Bikes. The customers let their new companions cost a lot accordingly: the specialist trade calls 3570 euros as the average price, the industry comes to 2800 euros across all sales channels.

The offer from the dealers is more extensive than ever, reports VDZ Vice Tobias Hempelmann. "The prices have remained extremely stable, so customers will find a very good offer." The dedicated retailer from Lippe is not afraid of a dampened consumer mood in the face of war, inflation and concerns about heating. "In Germany, people don't save on cars, vacations or bicycles." There will probably not be any bottlenecks like in the Corona years, so that more discount campaigns can be expected again at the end of the season. "We will return to the level of 2019."

The two-wheeler industry in Germany, a high-wage country, has long since drawn the consequences and in 2022 built almost twice as many e-bikes (1.72 million units) as conventional bicycles (0.9 million). The majority of the latter come to the German market from Asia and fetch an average price of 714 euros in specialist shops.