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Mobility, e-bikes drive growth in German market

Published August 25, 2015
Siegfried Neuberger, manager, Zweirad-Industrie-Verband (ZIV), René Takens, CEO, Accell Group; Scott Rittschof, senior vice president and general manager, Cycling Sports Group, Dr. Ulrich Gries, CEO Hollandrad.com and Stefan Reisinger, head of Eurobike.

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN) — The German market had a strong start to bicycle sales in the first half of the year, which industry executives attributed to mild weather, increased interest in urban mobility and e-bike sales.

During a discussion panel to kick off Eurobike on Tuesday morning, Siegfried Neuberger, manager of German bicycle industry association Zweirad-Industrie-Verband (ZIV), estimated that about 2.86 million bikes and e-bikes were sold to German consumers from January to June. That represents an increase of about 2 percent over last year.

Imports to Germany through April were up markedly from a year earlier. While normally 60 percent of imports are brought in during the first half of the year, ZIV estimated that figure at just over 70 percent this year. Neuberger attributed that to bike brands stocking up early on merchandise because of the currency exchange situation. 

E-bike sales have continued to climb in Germany, and ZIV expects sales of e-bikes to total around 520,000 units for 2015. ZIV predicts the e-bike market in Germany will reach a share of about 15 percent or 600,000 units.

René Takens, CEO of Accell Group, noted that e-bikes are driving sizable gains for Accell’s business in Germany, where it has achieved sales increases of 22 percent. “That’s a lot,” Takens said. “We do not see in other countries such a big increase. Netherlands is stable. In other countries like France and the U.K., the increase is a little bit but not spectacular like Germany.” Takens said Germany and the Netherlands had roughly the same turnover in the first half of the year, and combined they make up about 50 percent of total turnover for Accell Group. 

Scott Rittschof, senior vice president and general manager of Cycling Sports Group, said CSG’s European business has been steady. “It is not wildly increasing, but perhaps because we are not as devoted in the e-bike category,” Rittschof said. “But the standard bike business in Brazil, Japan and the U.K. have been absolutely thriving for us.”

Ritschoff noted other developing categories such as the women’s segment, mountain bikes with 27.5-plus tires, more versatile road bikes, and the urban segment. “More and more multiethnic families are close to city centers, and therefore we’re investing heavily in urban segments,” he said.

Future innovations will be driven more by the consumer, said Rittschof. “We are completely revamping how we view the consumer. We believe a lot of innovation happens with the users,” he said, noting a study from outside the cycling industry that user input accounts for up to 70 percent of new product innovation. “Keying in on true user problems and challenges is at the core of our innovation strategy.”

Takens also noted the important role of the consumer in determining the future of online sales, which are developing in many countries. He said that in the Netherlands, much of the online offering of bikes comes from dealers but is connected with discounts. “They have their shop, they have their cost, and they offer for rather high-discount bikes on the Internet,” Takens said.

But ultimately, he said, the answer to the online sales discussion will come from the consumer. “The consumer decides where and when to buy the product. As an industry we make a wonderful product. If the function of the dealer is not an added value to the consumer, then the consumer will go online. The shop needs to develop themselves as having added value so the consumer keeps going.”

 

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