A cold and chilly start to the preseason is usually never good for bicycle sales. But the hot and rain-free super summer of 2018 has helped to boost sales this year in Sweden. In particular e-bike sales. Next to the weather the popularity of electric bicycles got an extra boost by the government e-bike subsidy. The result: 53% more electric bicycles sold with the total number surpassing the 100,000 units mark.
The e-bike boom which was already expected by many industry peers last year, did happen. It has been triggered by the Swedish Government decision to grant a subsidy of 25 percent (up to € 1,000) per e-bike for all citizens. The government has allocated about SEK one billion (€ 97m) for pushing e-bike sales and in particular e-bike use to new highs. The government’s incentive for buying and using e-bikes in order to bring down car traffic, is running between 2018 and 2020, meaning that more good is to come for electric bike sales in Sweden.
This Swedish model to incite people to use electric bikes instead of cars for urban mobility is now the benchmark for more European countries to follow. And this is actually taking place through various financial incentives in countries like Norway, France and the UK.
The subsidy on purchasing new e-bikes resulted in a total sales of103,000 units in the September 2017 to August 2018 period in Sweden. This stands for a 53% growth on the same period one year earlier. The total sales number of over 100,000 units results in the fact that electric bikes now hold a market share of 19 percent. This is volume-wise; money-wise e-bikes take up a much bigger role in the Swedish market. That’s because an e-bike in Sweden retails for an average price of € 1,650. With that it means that the total retail value of the e-bike market in Sweden stands at between 180 and 200 million euro currently.
As this year’s growth of 53 percent comes after last year’s increase in e-bikes sale of 50%, market share wise Sweden is now growing towards the levels that are reached in the e-bike top countries of Europe. When it comes to the sale of regular bicycles Sweden also follows the trend that is shown in more European countries this year. It means regular bike sale is down. The Swedish industry association ‘Cykelbranschen’ estimates that in the September 2017 to August 2018 period the total volume of the bike market stood at 532,000 units. In the same period for 2016 – 2017 the volume was estimated as 551,000 units. The conclusion here is that the total sales volume dropped by 3.4 percent this year.
The Swedish bicycle market is still dominated by city- and standard models with internal hub gears and coaster brakes, although their popularity is decreasing. Hybrid and mountainbike sales continue to increase with 27.5 and 29-inched MTBs having also a dominant position. Demand for 26 inch high-end MTBs continues to decline. Cycling for fitness continues to be a growing trend with triathlon races stimulating high-end bike sale. The two major cycling races in Sweden – Vätternrundan in June (mainly for road bikes and MTBs) and MTB-Vasan in August – are both still growing in participant numbers. MTB-Vasan is now stretched to several days of competitions, like Vätternrundan.
The mid-sized to bigger bicycle shops that focused on mountain and hybrid bikes have had a great selling season. Most of them also benefitted from the e-bike sales boom. They are satisfied. Smaller shops however have experienced a small decline in sales and turnover.
With Government’s subsidy program on e-bike still running, sales continue to grow strongly. Also production in Sweden is growing rapidly.
IBDs are still the main retailing force for bikes in Sweden. Dealers hold a market share of 65%. Sporting goods chains like TeamSportia, Intersport, XXL and Stadium (which is the largest sporting goods retailer) are the follow-up bike distributors. Among the named sporting goods chains XXL continues to grow. The company is currently operating 25 superstores and is aggressively advertising across Sweden.
Bikes are also sold at supermarkets in Sweden. Biltema is dominating distribution here with an estimated market share of 18 to 20 percent. Among supermarkets Jula is the country’s 2nd biggest for bike sales which is growing. COOP stands 3rdwith decreasing sales. Online sales for bikes and bike products in Sweden concentrates on high-end road mountain bikes and continues to grow rapidly.
More local production
Thanks to reports across Swedish media ranging from several television programs to articles in daily newspapers, e-bikes are attracting lots of attention. This combined with the Government’s subsidy program still running, sales continues to grow strongly. With that also production in Sweden is growing. The country’s biggest bike maker Cycleurope produces e-bikes in Varberg. Cycleurope President and CEO Tony Grimaldi expects that production is growing to 30,000 units in the next years, taking up about one third of the company’s Varberg facility annual production capacity. Cycleurope is not the only e-bike maker in Sweden. Production is expected to increase a lot more as companies like Ecoride, Walleräng in Gothenburg, Skeppshultcykeln and Monark Exercise are also expanding their production of electric bicycles. Next to that all bike importers of the country now also carry e-bikes in their offerings.
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