Dutch electric bike sales outstripping city bikes

Electric power overtakes human power for first time

This year, for the first time, the Dutch spent more on electric bikes than they did on city bikes.

The shift was announced by marketing services company GfK Retail and Technology, which has been tracking sales in Dutch bike shops since 1997.

The change is unlikely to be a blip – in the first three quarters of 2008 sales were reportedly up 52 percent in value and 35 percent in volume. By the end of the year, electric bike sales accounted for 10 percent of the market according to BOVAG, the Dutch dealer association. The forecast had been for 120,000 e-bike sales. In the end, it was nearer 140,000.

The top selling e-bike brands in independent bike shops are Sparta and Batavus, according to GfK, followed by Gazelle and Giant, with Koga-Miyata in fifth place. The cheaper e-bikes tend to be bought in department and DIY stores, but 80 percent of e-bike sales are through dealers at an average price of nearly 2,000 euros.

It's a similar picture across Europe, where e-bike sales for 2008 have been estimated at about 500,000, with an expectation of between 650,000 and 700,000 this year.

“E-bikes are hot right now,” according to the general manager of Germany’s bicycle industry association, where an increase of anything between 20 and 50 percent for this year is expected.

At the Eurobike 2009 show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, in early September, visitors will be able to test-drive new models. “More than 50 top brands will be exhibited at Eurobike; all leading e-bike makers will be in Friedrichshafen,” says project manager Stefan Reisinger.

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