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IFMA Cologne: The Electric Bike Hype Goes On

At the last edition of IFMA Cologne, which was held from September 18 – 21, 2008, the efforts of over 15 years of electric bike promotion yielded fruit. Although it was a small show, it stood for the happy end of a big chapter in electric bike history.

Eurobike has won the race against IFMA Cologne––also in electric bikes. A few years ago, observers from the electric bike filed already anticipated that this would happen when IFMA hesitated to really put the focus on their actual strength: electric bikes. At that time, people at the fun and fashion show in Friedrichshafen still laughed at those funny “granny bikes”. At IFMA, however, the topic was taken more seriously and ExtraEnergy has pushed hard to promote this new vehicle category with the Test Track and various exhibitions for many years. As a result, IFMA became THE trade fair in Europe to exhibit, see and order electric bikes. Today one may ask if the management supported electric bikes with enough determination? Or if there were more attempts to transfer some of the Friedrichshafen party to Cologne? Anyway, things have gone their own way and many factors contributed to the end of the bicycle show in Cologne.

Profit from Media Hype
This year, both shows profited a great deal from the big electric bike hype that was stimulated by the mass media during the last months, especially in Germany. Electric bikes as a solution to high gasoline prices and climate challenges became a real thing to talk about. Eurobike visitors started to like them and they did not have to travel to Cologne to see a lot of them. All the well-known bicycle brands started showing electric bikes at Eurobike as a matter of course.

Biggest Electric Bike Program ever
Now that electric bikes were starting to become popular, they were also THE highlight at IFMA. This year's IFMA offered the biggest action program on electric bikes ever. The LEV World special electric bike show was again organized by ExtraEnergy––a key actor of the supporting program at IFMA since 1995. Most electric bike exhibitors again gathered around the TEST IT Track in hall 6. Next to the track in hall 6, a special exhibition showed all 28 bikes tested in the 2008 Test together with their results––a unique opportunity to get a hands-on overview of what's available on the market. A special highlight was the movie of the 2007 pedelec race in Stuttgart where local politicians raced on “doped” bikes against professional bike racers.

An LEV conference on marketing topics, technical updates, and industry standards was held in German language on the second day of IFMA. A dealer training with lectures and workshops provided dealers with the latest market information and news on the leading drive systems. On September 19th, the mem-
bers of EnergyBus e.V. and everyone interested met for an evening Get-together on the subject of connecting electric LEV components.

Visitors most interested in Electric Bikes
Although the last IFMA of it’s kind filled up no more than two and a half halls and was not a glamorous closing event, the run on electric bikes made for a happy end of the IFMA-story. The big German TV stations, which are headquartered in Cologne, came to the show, filmed at the Test Track, and interviewed test riders. With positive reports they attracted thousands of end-users to visit IFMA on the last two days, which were open to the public. The national media made the electric bike hype continue. Companies like Hercules, Hartje, and Gazelle, who showed electric bikes along-
side with their regular product line, said that people were more interested in their electric bikes than in any other bicycle category.

E-Bike Exhibitors in Good Mood
Yes, it was obvious in many places that the once so important international bicycle show has lost a lot of its grade, yet most electric bike exhibitors left the show in good mood. The quality of dealer contacts outdid the quantity of dealers who came to the fair. Excited end-
users rushed the booths and the test track, which lets the industry expect good sales in 2009.

Bicycles and Motorcycles together again
From 2010, IFMA will once again be part of Intermot, the international motorcycle and scooter fair. Intermot will be held in Cologne every second year in exchange with EICMA Bici/Moto in Milan. For electric bikes, a joint bicycle and motorcycle show could be a good thing: There is a trend in product development leading towards vehicles that are somewhere between a bicycle and a scooter. The industry hopes that having electric motorcycle, scooter and electric bike exhibitors together at the same show, will attract a wider range of potential customer groups.

Photos of IFMA 2008
(by Susanne Brüsch, Patrick Knappick, and KoelnMesse)

More about LEV Conference & Dealer Training
More about the EnergyBus Get-Together
More about the 2008 Test
More about the Stuttgart 2007 Pedelec Race

IFMA website

Last updated: October 17, 2008



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