Supply problems bring mixed results in key markets
The well-documented supply chain constraints prompted difficult e-bike and bicycle retail conditions throughout 2021. Although demand continued to increase, in most markets potential gains were limited by product availability. Whilst France and Spain managed to break sales records for e-bikes, Italy and Switzerland reported stabilising and stagnating markets in 2021.
French e-bike market share hikes to 25%
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the shortages of bikes and components, the French market recorded a strong increase in 2021. The total market volume increase by 3.9% to 2,789,545, according to figures released by the French Bicycle Observatory published by the industry organisation Union Sport & Cycle. This represents a sales value of €2.215 billion, an increase of 15.1%.
E-bikes driving the market
In 2021 the market value reached a total of €3.454 billion (+ 14.3%). The category parts and accessories also increased by 12.9% to a total turnover of €1.238 billion. “The perception of the bicycle in France has changed over the last two years,” explained Jérôme Valentin, Vice-President of the Union Sport & Cycle during the presentation of the market statistics. Just like in 2019 and 2020, last year’s statistics show that e-bikes are literally driving the market.
In 2021, e-bike sales hiked and this category set a new record. According to the French Bicycle Observatory, 659,337 e-bikes, an increase of 28%, were purchased last year. E-bikes now represent 24% of the total market volume. In turnover, the segment registered a 23% growth, representing a turnover of €1,313 billion or 59% of the total bicycle market value.
Urban and trekking leading e-bike categories
In terms of product categories, the e-bike gained the biggest increases in the urban and trekking segments. In 2021, 270,000 urban e-bikes (+ 34%) and 176,000 e-trekking bikes (+ 65%) have been sold.
Spanish e-bike sales in 2021 exceed previous year’s record
The hike in e-bike sales in 2020 was not a one-off as last year's sales record shows. According to the statistics published by the national bicycle industry organisation AMBE, e-bike sales volume in Spain increased by 5.3% in 2021.
For 2021 ABME reports a total e-bike market volume of some 223,561 units on a total market of 1,571,368 bicycles and e-bikes combined. In market share the position of the e-bike remained the same last year at 14%. The 2020 total market volume of e-bike and bicycles combined still stood at 1.56 million units.
The MTB has been the most important category in Spain for many years and still is, with a market share of 38.7%. In volume this category remained the same last year at 607,995 units. By category, the largest increase in volume was recorded in the combined categories gravel and road bikes (+51.2%) to 158,932 units.
E-bikes drive market value
The average retail price hiked by 14.9% from €865 in 2019 to €984 last year mainly due to the e-bike. Value wise it was again the e-bike that was the most important driver for this increase. In turnover the bicycle and e-bike market combined now represents a total market value of €1.55 billion. The biggest increase in Spain’s bicycle market came last year from the parts and accessories sales.
Italian e-bike sales increase 5% in stabilising market
Following record bicycle and e-bike sales in 2020 where over 2 million units were sold, the market in Italy has stabilised in 2021. A total of 1,975,000 bicycles and e-bikes were sold in Italy last year, representing a 2% decline compared to the previous year. According to the 2021 data released by industry association, ANCMA, e-bikes continues to grow in both volume and market share.
When breaking down the figures, 1,680,000 regular bikes were sold in Italy in 2021, a slight decrease compared to 2020. E-Bikes continue their growth, albeit more moderately than the previous year, with 295,000 units sold and a +5% increase over 2020.
Lack of government incentive
2021 sales figure however is significant as it shows that purchasing trends are continuing and the bicycle is still popular in Italy. This is notable, as the record 2020 figures were influenced by the ‘Bike Bonus’ incentive by the Italian government to encourage the purchase of more sustainable vehicles. “The 2021 sales result is very positive as it was achieved in the absence of any purchase incentives, which had contributed to the considerable dynamism of post-lockdown demand in 2020,” commented Paolo Magri, president of ANCMA.
Strong local production
According to ANCMA data, more than 3.2 million bicycles were produced in Italy in 2021: the e-bike segment stands out and is growing by 25%, while the regular bicycle production registered a +5% year-on-year growth, totalling 2.9 million units. This growth looks set to continue with, Bianchi announcing an ambitious investment program to quadruple its Italian production by August 2022 and tyre manufacturers Vittoria and Pirelli both expanding their Italian operations.
Stagnant supply chains put brakes on Swiss bicycle business
After total bicycle sales skyrocketed by 38% in 2020, poor availability brought the Swiss industry back down to earth in 2021. Sales fell by 1.6% to a total of 493,826 e-bikes and bicycles. E-bike sales have now grown to a 37.9% market share.
However, these figures need to be put into perspective. Of the spectacular-seeming growth in 2020 to over half a million bikes for the first time, about half was due to the system change in the survey by the Velosuisse association. The other half, as in other markets, was triggered by the need for exercise in the first Corona year.
Initial momentum stalled
This momentum continued into the first half of 2021, with e-bike sales up 16.5% and bicycle sales up 8.9%. But then the ongoing demand could no longer be met. Due to missing components, manufacturers were unable to deliver all the ordered bikes by a long shot. Conventional bicycles even declined by 7.4% to 306,524 units, and this following a 43.5% increase in 2020.
IBDs serve 80% of e-bike market
Over the year as a whole, e-bike sales have grown significantly less than in the previous year, with an increase of 9.4% to 187,302 units. For once, the lion’s share of this growth was attributable to the supermarket chains, who were able to increase their sales by 58.6%, in contrast to the IBDs (plus 1.3%). Overall, however, the IBDs still are disproportionately dominant in the e-bike market.