Europe’s E-Bike Imports Indicate Market Size

 Estimates on the total volume of the 2012 European e-bike market range between 700,000 to 1.2 million units. However, an import level of 550,000 units implies a much bigger market.
2012 is the first year that Eurostat (the European data bureau) has been able to register the import of electric bicycles with up to 250 Watt motors and speed pedelecs with over 250 Watt motors. In 2011 EU industry associations COLIBI (for bike makers) and COLIPED (for bike parts makers) requested to have specific CN Codes for the two categories.
This facilitated the tracking of the import flow by Eurostat. The first import data shows some remarkable figures which are higher than expected and could point to a European market that is bigger than many insiders take into account.
E-Bike & Speed-pedelec sales in Europe (in units)*
Country                    2012          2011           2010
Germany                380,000   310,000    200,000
the Netherlands   171,000   178,000    166,000
Switzerland              52,900     50,000      35,000
France                      46,100     40,000      38,000
Italy                            48,200     45,000      40,000
Austria                       40,000     32,000      20,000
Total EU states       738,200   655,000  499,000
*Other EU countries: no official data available for 2010-2012 period
Source: ZIV, RAI Vereniging, Velosuisse, CNPC, ANCMA, Arge Zweirad
Numbers and values
EU's 27 member states imported a total of 551,782 e-bikes and speed-pedelecs in 2012, according to the Eurostat data. The majority (67.5%) of those imports were in regular 250 Watt – 25km/h electric pedal-power assisted bicycles. The nearly 373,000 units were imported at an average value per unit of €522.54.
That a total of about 180,000 speed pedelecs were imported last year must come as a surprise for many insiders in the European e-bike market. As with the total import number; it could be an indication that this segment is already bigger than expected.
It could also prove that the market for speed pedelecs is growing at a much faster pace than anticipated. Remarkable also is the fact that the average value per imported s-pedelec is considerably lower than regular e-bikes. The average value stood at €371.51 per unit.
Monopoly by China
China holds a monopolistic position within this total import, as 83.2% of all imported units (e-bikes and s-pedelecs) carried a 'made in China' label. The People's Republic accounted for over 300,000 regular 250 W – 25km/h e-bikes, as well as close to 155,000 s-pedelecs.
In regular e-bikes Japan is Europe's number two supplier, with over 31,000 units and a 8.4% share of the total import. With 18,000 for Taiwan and 16,000 for Vietnam, these countries also hold a modest position on Europe's e-bike market. All other countries claim a lower than 1% of the total import.
It is maybe hard to comprehend but there are still major suppliers as well as distributors and dealers that don't believe in the e-bike trend. All indications suggest otherwise. Even in times of crisis, as well as rainy summers and harsh winters, e-bike sales are on the rise.
E-bike, S-pedelec & E-scooter EU-27 Imports (in units)
Country of origin       E-bike      S-pedelecs & E-scooters
P.R. of China           304,301                 154,685
Japan                         31,399                      4,358
Taiwan                        18,273                   12,999
Vietnam                       15,751                       n.a.
USA                             6804,917                   n.a.
Canada                          488                         n.a.
Ceuta                              422                         n.a.
Malaysia                         292                         n.a.
Switzerland                    273                         n.a.
Hong Kong                  259630                    n.a.
All others                    6131,283                  n.a.
Total units                    372,751              179,031
Source Eurostat
Official sales figures
During these two years (with an economic crisis hitting households even harder, since the start of it all in September 2008 as well as with weather conditions in the two years that left much to ask for, sales shot up by 47.9%. This mighty growth comes from reviewing the official, industry associations sales figures of Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Italy and Austria.
In 2010 e-bike sales of these countries together totaled 499,000 units. In 2012 it stood at 738,300 units. In 2012, compared to 2011 growth in the seven countries named above, the increase stood at 12.7% or 83,200 units.
For this article only the e-bike sales figures of Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Italy, and Austria have been used. That's because official sales data covering 2010 to 2012 is available for these countries. Other countries do not have that data available (yet).
Bigger European market
Comparing the Eurostat import statistics as shown on this page (see tables) with the 2012 sales in the EU member states Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy, and Austria (excluding Switzerland as this is not a EU member state), provides even more indication of what is noted on the cover page of this edition of Bike Europe.
The import data points to a European market that is bigger than many insiders take into account. In Germany, The Netherlands, France, Italy, and Austria e-bike sales stood at 685,300 units in 2012. According to Eurostat a total of 551,782 e-bikes and speed-pedelecs were imported in 2012. This represents 80.5% of all sales in the named countries.
Of course when comparing the numbers, one has to take into account that the Eurostat figure covers the import in all EU member states. On the other hand, e-bike sales in the named five countries are the highest of all EU 27 member states. And with that a strong indication that the 2012 European e-bike market is, in terms of volume, closer to 1.2 million units than 700,000 (or even higher).