FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN)—SRAM president Stan Day announced yesterday that SRAM is currently working on “breakthrough” e-bike technology, targeting its launch for Q1 of model year 2012.
“We believe we’re one of the few that has the reach to effectively educate European and U.S. dealers,” said Day, speaking as part of a panel of industry executives at a press conference to kick off Eurobike yesterday.
That was music to the ears of his fellow panelists representing the German bike industry, who are pinning hopes on e-bikes to grow bike sales in Europe’s largest bike market.
Siegfried Neuberger, chief executive officer of German bike industry association Zweirad-Industrie-Verband (ZIV), said the organization had forecast e-bike sales of 180,000 units in 2010. “Now we have to correct that because it is going to be even better,” Neuberger said, adding that the projection for e-bikes sold in Germany has been revised to 200,000 for this year compared to 150,000 in 2009. As a share of bikes sold in the German market, e-bikes will likely rise from 4 percent to 5 percent this year, he said.
Neuberger said the forecast for e-bike sales in all of Europe for 2010 is 600,000 units, up from 500,000 units in 2009. “The trend is very positive,” he said.
According to Neuberger, e-bikes are one of the bright spots in the German market. Through the first half of this year, total bike deliveries in Germany were flat at 2.66 million units compared to 2.67 million units for the same period last year.
Neuberger said deliveries have been stable despite general conditions, such as low consumer confidence and poor spring weather, that were not optimal in the first six months of the year. But, he said, the market is now improving.
Thomas Kunz, chief executive officer for the Association for German Two-Wheeler Business (ZDV), said specialty bicycle dealers altogether survived the economic crisis quite well. “Specialty dealers distanced themselves from the sluggish retail trend,” said Kunz.
He noted that among the 3,870 retailers represented by the association there was a broad spread in assessing the business situation, with some experiencing growth and some experiencing slight declines this year. Altogether, he said, German retailers expect sales at the level of the previous year—an estimated annual market total of 4.1 million bikes and 3.3 billion euros.
Kunz noted that specialty retailers, who account for 68 percent of German bike sales through all retail channels, are benefiting from e-bikes and a general trend toward high-quality equipment sales.
Werner Foster, chief executive officer of Germany bike manufacturer Cycle Union, agreed that the trend is toward high-quality bikes and, as a result, the share for specialty trade is increasing in Germany.
SRAM’s Day said sales for the year are up for good dealers across Europe and in the U.S., adding that inventories appear to have filled in but are not excessive.
According to Day, sales for SRAM’s five brands—SRAM, Zipp, RockShox, Avid and Truvativ—were up 40 percent over the prior year for the six months ending in June. Total sales for SRAM for the past 12 months surpassed $500 million, he said.
And while the company is focusing on e-bike development, it has also committed to the racing scene, with seven pro teams racing on SRAM in 2010. That investment paid off for the company this year with a one-two finish with Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck. “For most of us racing will not put food on the table, but it is an important training ground,” said Day.
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