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Bike biz feeds billions into German economy

Published February 27, 2012

BERLIN, Germany (BRAIN)—The bicycle business in Germany contributes 5 billion euros ($6.7 billion) annually to the country’s economy, according to figures released by German trade organization Verbund Service und Fahrrad at last weekend’s Vivavelo congress in Berlin.

According to VSF, each year about 4 million bikes and e-bikes are sold in Germany—Europe’s largest bike market in terms of volume and revenue—compared with about 3.7 million cars. The growth potential for bicycles is estimated at 3.65 percent per year, while the estimate is just over 1 percent for other consumer goods in Europe’s economic and political powerhouse.

Bikes are the most developed and popular means of transport in Germany: VSF found that there are 69 million bikes in circulation in the country of 81 million people, beating out the 42.9 million cars on the roads. Ninety-eight percent of German adults can ride a bicycle and 80 percent own at least one bike.

From 2008 to 2010, the price of a new bike grew by 19.2 percent, with consumers paying 600 euros ($805) on average for a bike. At specialty shops, which account for 68 percent of all bike sales, the average selling prices was 1,089 euros ($1,460) last year, up from 1,057 euros ($1,417) in 2010. And the future for specialty retail looks promising. The number of IBDs in Germany increased by 9.4 percent in 2011 and 62 percent of individual shops increased revenue by more than 5 percent.

Electric bikes have provided a big boost to Germany’s industry with 300,000 units sold in the country last year at an average price of 1,975 euros ($2,650). That’s compared with the 1,800 electric cars sold there.

“While the car industry still fiddles about electromobility, it is a reality in the electric bike industry. Already 700,000 pedelecs can be seen on German streets,” said Albert Herresthal, managing director of VSF. E-bikes and pedelecs represent 11.6 percent of all bikes sold at specialty shops last year.

The cycling industry employs 278,000 people in Germany through industry, trade, tourism and infrastructure.

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