The much-discussed topic of supply chain constraints had a direct impact on product availability in the Netherlands. Due to the delivery problems, directly related to the corona pandemic, the Dutch e-bike and bicycle market saw a record sales volume decline for 2021. According to industry association RAI, 923,000 bicycles and e-bikes were sold in 2021 versus 1,098,000 in 2020. Meanwhile, consumers are opting for more premium e-bikes, with the average retail price increasing between 4-12.5% last year in key European markets, according to the GfK E-bike Monitor.
Dutch e-bike and bicycle market shrinks 15.9%
The Dutch market saw a 15.9% drop in sales in 2021 with 923,000 bicycles and e-bikes were sold in 2021 versus 1,098,000 in 2020, the national industry association RAI reported. The e-bike market volume in the Netherlands dropped by 12.5%, from 549,000 in 2020 to 479.960 in 2021. However, the e-bike market share increased from 49.8% to 52% in 2021.
Growth in online sales
The e-bike now accounts for more than 76% of the market value and the average sales price in 2021 was €2,399, an increase of 6% compared with 2020. A remarkable development is the increase of online e-bike sales. Last year this category increased by more than 13% to 51,000 units, while the average price for online distributed e-bikes remained the same compared to 2020 at €2,077.
Product availability problems came after June
The decline in market volume can be attributed to the limited product availability, reports the RAI Association. “From January to June, supplies of bicycles and components were very stable,” said Huub Lamers, chairman of the section bicycles at the RAI Association and senior vice-president within Pon.Bike. “The problems came in the second half of the year due to an increase of corona related factory closures in Asia.”
In three of Europe’s main e-bike markets, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, the average retail price for e-bikes have increased by 12% this year compared with 2021. This was reported by the recent GfK E-Bike Monitor.
Commuting as a reason to buy an e-bike is still gaining importance. Recreational use is still the largest segment but compared to 2020 the interest in buying an e-bike for commuting has grown.
Raw materials shortage
This hike in retail prices is not unexpected when looking at the higher costs for both shipping and raw materials. According to a recent study by the European industry confederation CONEBI, the price of aluminium has gone up by 100% since March 2020. Also, price hikes for steel (+50%), carbon fibre (+30%), rubber (+70%) and lithium (+400%) have already had their impact on retail prices.
This year the GfK E-Bike Monitor (in Dutch) highlights how potential e-bike buyers in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands obtain information and which stages take them through their customer journey. Personal recommendations are still a leading source of information while the brick-and-mortar stores are still an important part of the shopping experience.
According to GfK, ‘physical shops are therefore still an important channel in the customer journey for manufacturers and retailers. The clear differences in the age groups of the customers and in the customer journey experience are striking. For example, 82% of young e-bike buyers (18-24 years) make a test ride. Remarkably, only 50% of the people in the older age groups make a test ride.
Speed pedelec sales begin to stabilise
Together with Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium were always regarded as an example for the potential of speed pedelecs. Slow sales were manifest in 2020 and the trend continued into 2021. Together with Switzerland, the Benelux countries are still the main markets for speed pedelecs.
“The speed pedelec remains a niche market with a high potential in our congested urban regions,” said Filip Rylant of the Belgium mobility organization Traxio who published the speed pedelec trend report. In Belgium speed-pedelecs are mainly used for commuting.
Summer sales dip
“The rainy weather in summer had a negative impact on the registrations of speed pedelecs in 2021. After a promising spring, the sales figures mostly turned red from June, despite the return of the traffic jams around Antwerp and Brussels,” explains Filip Rylant. “In November sales showed a short revival, but in December only 731 copies were registered, which is even 13.16% less compared to 2020. The reduced traffic jams in combination with many people working from a home office, were the main reasons for this decline. In Belgium speed-pedelecs are mainly used for commuting.”
Stable market in the Netherlands
In the January–November period of 2021 the sale of speed pedelecs accounted for a 15.5% share of the Dutch market for 50cc scooters and mopeds with a total volume of 4,013 units. Also in the Netherlands, speed pedelecs are mainly used for commuting. Due to the pandemic, working from a home office became standard for a substantial part of Dutch people. For many it has even become the new standard. As a result, the speed pedelec as an alternative for a car has been less relevant.
The number of traffic jams became less as well, so that made the car more attractive for commuting. However, traffic jams immediately returned once the offices opened up again last autumn, so the speed pedelec will maintain its relevance as an alternative for car commuting. On top of that, a part of the commuters who used to travel by public transport are also looking for other means of transport to avoid the crowded trains and buses.