2023: More e-bikes than bicycles sold in Germany for the first time

(© mmphoto – stock.adobe.com)

(© mmphoto – stock.adobe.com)

2024/03/27 – According to the Bicycle Industry Association (ZIV), last year saw 53 percent of buyers opting for a bicycle with electric assistance. A total of 2.1 million e-bikes and 1.8 million traditional, muscle-powered bicycles found new owners. The previous year, e-bikes accounted for 48 percent of bicycle sales. Bicycle leasing through employers, which now accounts for about a quarter of all bicycle purchases, is significantly driving the trend. This development has benefited traditional retail stores more than any.

Ideal Solution for Micro-Mobility

The success of e-bikes can be attributed to various factors. DRIVEN has compiled the ten most important ones:

  1. Environmental Friendliness: E-bikes offer a green alternative to cars and other motorized forms of transportation. They produce no direct emissions, contributing to the reduction of air pollution.
  2. Health Benefits: Riding an e-bike offers physical exercise, even with the assistance of an electric motor. It benefits the cardiovascular system, strengthens muscles, and improves overall fitness – as evidenced by the study, "Impact of Electrically Assisted Bicycles on Physical Activity and Traffic Accident Risk: A Prospective Observational Study" from the Hanover Medical School.
  3. Increased Mobility: E-bikes can help cover longer distances or more easily tackle hilly routes. They're ideal for those who don't want to overexert themselves or arrive sweaty at the office.
  4. Cost Efficiency: Compared to maintaining a car, the purchase costs of an e-bike are considerably lower. This also applies to the costs for energy, maintenance, and repairs. For example, many e-bikes can travel up to 100 kilometers on a single battery charge, requiring only about 500-750 watt-hours of electricity. A comparable amount of energy would only power a compact, gasoline-powered car for about one kilometer.
  5. Avoidance of Traffic Issues: E-bikes often allow users to bypass traffic jams and reach their destinations faster. Additionally, parking is easier to find, with many places offering special parking spots or bike garages.
  6. Mobility in Rural Areas: In rural or less densely populated areas, an e-bike can be an efficient and practical solution for daily mobility.
  7. Versatility: E-bikes are available in various models, from city bikes to mountain bikes, folding bikes, or cargo bikes. They are universally applicable, whether for commuting, sports activities, or leisure outings.
  8. Fun Factor: Riding an e-bike is fun. And electric assistance allows for quick acceleration and effortless hill climbing.
  9. Social Inclusion: E-bikes can reintegrate individuals who, due to health reasons are unable to use traditional bicycles, back into the cycling community.
  10. Promotion of Sustainable Cities: The use of e-bikes supports the development of sustainable urban transport concepts by helping reduce car traffic and expanding the space available for pedestrians and cyclists.

Germany and the Netherlands Lead in E-Bikes – but China Tops Them all

While comparative international figures are only available for 2022, they paint a clear picture: In Europe, the share of e-bike sales among overall bicycle sales was 21 percent – mainly driven by high shares in the Netherlands (2022: 57 percent) and Germany (2022: 48 percent). In Asia, the share of e-bikes was about ten percent in the same year, followed by Australia & Oceania with seven percent. On the American continent, e-bikes play virtually no role with just two percent of total bicycle sales. However, the shares in China are impressive: three out of four new bicycles came with electric drive in the Middle Kingdom in 2022. The site of the electric pedal assist bicycle's origins, this trend has remained stable in China for years, with the share of e-bikes already hitting 60 percent there back in 2015.

Significance for the Transportation Revolution

Despite significant success, the potential of e-bikes seems far from exhausted: A study by the French bike-sharing provider Fifteen suggests that thanks to e-bikes, 15 percent of Germans could switch to cycling. Based on data from the Federal Statistical Office, the ADFC Bicycle Climate Test 2022, and the ADFC’s own forecast models, it is estimated that e-bike-sharing systems could encourage 13 million citizens to take up cycling nationwide. This corresponds to 15 percent of the total German population and would save 39.2 kilotons of CO2 in Germany each year – amounting to 2.68 percent of the total annual traffic emissions and equalling a reduction of around 20,000 cars on German roads.