Industry Events


Freefall ends as EU-27 e-bike imports stabilise

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ZEIST, the Netherlands - With key markets reporting double-digit sales drops, inventories sky-high and heavy discounting attempting to rid the industry of burdening overstock, e-bike and bicycle imports into the EU nose-dived throughout 2023. With the first quarter of 2024 import data now available from Eurostat, a picture can be drawn of how this year's market might unfold… and there is a glimmer of hope.

To start with the bad news… with 125,000 e-bikes imported into the EU-27 during the first 3 months of 2024, this is a 57% drop compared to Q1 of 2023. At that moment in 2023 it was just becoming clear that the boom of the previous years was coming to an end and markets were becoming flooded as economic uncertainties also grew. Moving forward a year to Q1 2024, the units exported are 2.5% higher than the last 3 months (Q4) of 2023. Although it’s a minimal increase to take joy from, the total per month rose from steadily for 35,000 units in January to 52,500 units in March. Whether this monthly upward trajectory will continue into April is yet to be seen, but according to industry insiders there are positive signs.

'Serious orders' in Taiwan

In Taiwan, there are reports of order portfolios not only just picking up, but also filling up at component manufacturers and the flow-in, is being considered “serious” again. When looking at the import figures from Taiwan, as number 1 exporter of e-bikes to the EU, a similar upward trend can be seen. Although with 52,000 e-bike units imported from Taiwan in Q1 2024, this is still a 37% drop compared to the benchmark figure of Q1 2019 when market conditions were considered as ‘stable’.

The same pattern can be seen with imports from China. As Europe’s second highest e-bike importer in 2023, Vietnam is being slower in re-establishing orders as Q1 figures continue to show a 32% drop compared to Q4 2023, and a 58% year-on-year drop in relation to Q1.

Value no longer compensating for volume deficit

In terms of total value of the products imported, there is a 55% first quarter drop compared to the same period last year.  At €145 million the value is slightly higher than the Q4 total of €128 million. Per month, there is a monthly increase in the value of imports coming from Taiwan since December. Also in the first 3 months of 2024, the import value is like-for-like that of 2019.

At Taipei Cycle show earlier this year, it was predicted that normal ordering would resume by the beginning of 2025 at the latest, with some suggesting a more noticeable turnaround in the latter half of 2024. However, with the import value at €84 million in Q1 2024, this is far below the record level achieved in Q4 2022; €209 million. It is clear that market conditions are considerably different now as the Taiwanese industry tries to adjust to a manageable and sustainable supply chain in the long term.

China shipping more bicycles

Bicycle imports into the EU-27 paint a similar picture; a 42% drop to 600,000 units in Q1 2024 but a 19% rise from Q4 2023. In the first 3 months of 2024, China has firmly re-established itself as the leading exporter of bicycles to the EU-27. With 135,500 units imported into the EU-27 in Q1 2024, this is even 5,000 units more than the same period in the previous year. Cambodia, which had taken the top position of supplying bicycles to the EU-27 since 2017 appears to be having a tougher time adapting to the new market conditions. With 78,000 units imported into the EU-27 in Q1 2024, this is a 74% drop compared to Q1 2023 when Cambodia supplied the EU with 296,000 units.

Could 2024 be the year that China becomes the leading supplier of bicycles to the EU-27? On the basis of the current figures, they are strongly out of the starting blocks. However, it must be mentioned that the products exported are more for the mid to low-end segments. In terms of value of bicycles imported into the EU-27, Taiwan overtook Cambodia in 2023 and has maintained that trajectory into Q1 2024. With €72 million in Q1 of this year, this is €10 million higher than in Q3 of 2023.

*Corrections in Eurostat data are made on a monthly basis. Therefore, this data is an indication of market trends and changes are possible.

Source : Bike Europe