Covid-19 Put E-bike Popularity into Overdrive, EU Report Says

2021.03.01
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The European bicycle industry has huge potential as the mobility landscape shifts to more sustainable forms of transportation, notes the recently published European Mobility Atlas 2021, a report analysing key facts and figures about transport in Europe. Even without the momentum from the Covid-19 pandemic, the industry has been gaining ground with investments and the trend of reshoring production facilities. The European Mobility Atlas is published by the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation, a German political foundation and an advocate on green policies. During the launch of the atlas Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President of the European Commission, highlighted that “cycling is one of the key solutions for reducing mobility emissions and that the European Bicycle Industry has an important role to play in achieving the EU’s green goals.” The atlas gathers all the important data from the sector and can be used as a key document to give more weight to cycling advocacy policies. Booming business The chapter on the bicycle industry, authored by industry association CONEBI, provides market figures and trends showcasing how the industry has moved from an annual turnover of €5 billion 20 years ago to almost €15 billion in 2019, steadily increasing both the employment opportunities and investments in the sector. The European bicycle industry (including e-bike manufacturers and the components and parts industry) is active in 23 out of 27 EU Member States. It currently employs (directly and indirectly) 120,000 workers across around 900 small and medium enterprises. With annual sales of 20 million bicycles, the industry is also investing €1 billion per year in research and development. E-bikes speeding up market growth “Unlike many industries, the manufacture of bicycles keeps on growing. This is mainly driven by the sale of e-bikes. The ever-increasing demand for them seems to be helping the industry to recover rapidly from the impact of Covid-19,” the report on the bicycle industry states. In line with sustainability goals, the e-bike offers a carbon-neutral and affordable transport alternative that can easily be combined with other transport modes. ince 2006, the sales figure in the EU-28 has increased decisively: from 98,000 up to 3,332,000 units in 2019. A better growth rate than the car industry. – Photo European Mobility Atlas E-bikes currently represent about 17% of EU bicycle sales, going up to 50% in some countries. E-bike sales reached 3.4 million units in 2019, and by 2030, the market is expected to grow to 13.5 million units sold annually, if favourable legislation can be upheld. In a clear gain for the cycling industry, the report notes that the electrification of the automotive industry is lagging behind that of bicycles, with the number of e-bikes on the market far outweighing the number of e-cars; in Germany in 2018, more e-cargo bikes than e-cars were sold. A boost to European labour market The growth of the e-bike market also means more skilled jobs for the European bicycle industry, as four to five jobs are generated for the production of 1,000 e-bike per year. In comparison, only two to three skilled workers are needed to produce 1,000 traditional bicycles per year. Closely linked to this are investments in large scale frame manufacturing in Europe, such as Triangles in Portugal, shortened supply chains as companies such as German parts manufacturer, Büchel, invests millions to stimulate more parts production in Europe. The report highlights the trend over the last decade in Europe about the creation of ‘Bike Valleys’ where bicycle assemblers and parts producers are all settled in one region. Bike Europe has reported on this in Portugal and Bulgaria and more recently in Romania, where Europe’s largest bike factory is currently being constructed. About 60% of the e-bikes and bicycles sold in the EU are also produced here. In 2019, there were more than 60,000 direct jobs in the European bicycle industry.