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2008 In Retrospect – A Turnabout in Electric Mobility

The year 2008 marked a turnaround in Europe: The once belittled “Granny bikes” have finally ascended to the bike of choice for modern and eco-conscious person – and sold better than ever. Mass media, the shock of oil prices and the financial crisis have led to a rethink of mobility.

The Electric Bicycle takes its Place
2008 was an historic year for the electric bicycle in Europe, where it was well received. After the market success of electric bikes in the Netherlands during the past three years, it has now become very clear that virtually no bicycle dealer or manufacturer in Germany will withdraw themselves from the market. According to market estimates from ExtraEnergy, 2008 sales in Europe climbed approximately to half a million pieces.

The Shock of Oil Prices and Financial Crisis
The rising price of oil made inhabitants of the world’s industrialized nations aware of the restricted availability of cheap and widely available oil. Late in 2008, the automobile industry and suppliers began responding to the effect of the distressful impact and also began looking eagerly for alternative mobility products. All established and well-known automobile industry manufacturers that have shown interest in electric vehicles either have already started an LEV (Light Electric Vehicle) initiative or are researching and preparing to enter the market with an electric vehicle. Those well-informed say that the industry leader in the field of bicycle components, Shimano, has focused recently on becoming active in the electric bicycle market sector. The company SRAM is working on a re-start in electric drive systems following their SPARC line.

Economic Success of Leading Manufacturers
Since the beginning of 2008, Panasonic has achieved an estimated 200 million Euro turnabout with electric bicycle drives. Trying to follow up with the success story of Panasonic, Japanese competitor Yamaha re-started European export with the new Gepedia pedelec from Hungary. The well known Sanyo brand was bought by rival Panasonic, making it the largest electronics company in Japan. There is a great deal of momentum, even if the trend has as yet remained unnoticed by the general public. Conversions and profit margins of the current European market leader Accell Group are not expected to narrow – figures which the bicycling industry has not seen so far (except from Shimano system suppliers.) Ultimate growth for the European market has no end in sight!

Quality Sells Itself
"The bitter taste of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten"; always sell your customer on quality first. In 2008, the industry continued its wait for quality from large manufacturers. Most manufacturers were not prepared for the rapid growth of the market and some underestimated the complexity of developing pedelecs. Price-optimized, bargain products did not sell as well as expected at Discounters and other emerging markets. The German purchasing association ZEG had four pedelec models of their own Pegasus brand recalled, as the 220V AC plug for the 24v DC charger was not suitable for use with electric bicycles.

ExtraEnergy - Driving Force
The market for E-bikes and pedelecs has been vivid in 2008 and ExtraEnergy was among its main driving forces.  Read on for a roundup of the highlights that will have a major impact on the further development of this emerging market.
ExtraEnergy Highlights 2008

By Hannes Neupert and Susanne Bruesch
Translation: Brandon O'Donnell

February 21, 2009



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