Bicycle Industry Struggles, High Hopes for Business Bike Leasing

Bicycle Industry Struggles, High Hopes for Business Bike Leasing

High Inventory, Poor Weather: Bicycle Industry Faces a Tough Season

Bicycles are crucial for eco-friendly mobility, yet the market is facing challenges. In the first four months of 2024, fewer bicycles were sold and manufactured in Germany. Sales dropped by approximately ten percent, with 1.45 million bikes sold by the end of April, as reported by the industry association ZIV at the start of the Eurobike trade fair (July 3-7) in Frankfurt.

Traditional bicycles experienced a significant decline, with sales falling nearly 20 percent to 650,000 units compared to the same period last year. Conversely, the more expensive and economically significant e-bikes remained steady at 800,000 units.

Production numbers have also decreased notably, with manufacturers producing 970,000 units, marking an 18 percent decline across all bicycle types. High inventory levels from previous years have led to substantial discounts for many customers post-pandemic.

Despite these challenges, ZIV Managing Director Burkhard Stork remains optimistic, suggesting that 2024 could still be a normal year with an estimated turnover of 4.3 million bikes. There is still healthy demand and significant growth potential.

Only a Third Have Access to Business Bike Leasing

The bicycle industry sees significant potential in the booming business bike leasing market. Despite strong growth in recent years, only 37 percent of employees have access to business bike leasing, according to a Deloitte consultancy analysis. Of these 16.8 million people, only about ten percent have signed a leasing contract.

Employees should carefully consider whether leasing a business bike is beneficial. While tax and social security contributions can be saved, leasing can often be more expensive in the long run compared to purchasing, as both the dealer and the leasing provider need to make a profit.

“The potential is far from exhausted,” says study author Kim Lachmann. Among the approximately 204,000 participating employers, around 90 percent of employees have yet to lease. Additionally, the number of companies offering this option to their employees has been increasing steadily, averaging a 46 percent annual growth rate since 2019.

The turnover of leasing providers rose from 2.6 billion to 3.2 billion euros last year. They signed contracts for 790,000 bikes, compared to 680,000 in 2022. The fleet of business bikes leased for three years grew by around 400,000 to 1.9 million units, mostly high-quality and expensive bikes. E-bikes constitute about 80 percent of these, with an average leasing price of 3,750 euros, 800 euros above the average price in the overall bicycle market. A significant portion of these transactions is handled by local specialist dealers.

Business bikes and e-bikes are expected to be a major focus at the Eurobike in Frankfurt. Around 1,800 exhibitors will showcase new products and developments, including cargo bikes. The fair will initially be open to trade visitors and later to the general public during the weekend.