Why 2020 will be the year of e-bikes

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By: Joachim Hofer - Translated from: https://app.handelsblatt.com/untern...b&ticket=ST-40612877-acXuHGeStQpKAXuRltfb-ap3

The e-bike industry is increasingly pushing into niches and opening up new target groups. Bosch and the bike manufacturer Trek expect a long-lasting boom.

The batteries are integrated almost seamlessly into the frame. Trek

E-bike from the bike manufacturer Trek

The batteries are integrated almost seamlessly into the frame.

Image: Trek

Munich They roll on asphalt and gravel, in the city and in the country, and increasingly also on steep mountain paths: electric bikes are daily companions for millions of people in Germany - on their way to work or in their free time. "E-bikes are already a great success story, and yet we are still at the very beginning," says Sebastien Therond, Head of Product Management at Bosch E-Bike Systems.

The world's largest automotive supplier is also one of the most important suppliers of electric bicycles. Therond has been accompanying the development since the group entered the business ten years ago. What makes the manager so optimistic: The wheel manufacturers expand their product range year after year. Therond has a good overview, he is responsible for Bosch's e-bike strategy.

“In the beginning, e-bikes were only for seniors, that has changed completely,” says the engineer. Indeed: In addition to the classic city bikes, the manufacturers now offer cargo bikes, electrically powered racing bikes and even e-mountain bikes. “We are reaching more and more people with this,” explains Reijer den Hertog. The Dutchman is responsible for the electric mountain bikes at the American bike manufacturer Trek.

However, it is not just the larger selection that attracts more and more consumers. The e-bikes now look good too. "They are becoming more and more similar to conventional bikes," emphasizes Hertog. The current Bosch motors are significantly smaller than the previous models and are therefore hardly noticeable. At the same time, manufacturers like Trek integrate the batteries almost seamlessly into the frames.
Topics of the article
Bosch
E-Bikes
automotive
Panasonic

But that's not all: the range of pedelecs is increasing, so customers don't have to be afraid to stay on the road. 100 kilometers and more are quite possible. At the same time, the new Bosch drives are one third lighter than previous versions. Therefore, the bike can be driven without electrical assistance if necessary.

Last year, dealers in Germany sold almost one million e-bikes, almost seven times as many as ten years ago. The two-wheeler industry association (ZIV) estimates that this year there will be 1.1 million. Across Europe, the stores sold around 2.8 million pedelecs in 2018, around 700,000 more than in the previous year. After Germany, the Netherlands, France and Belgium are the strongest markets for electric bikes in Europe.

There are still few electric bikes compared to conventional bicycles. According to the ZIV, there are 75 million bikes in Germany, of which only 4.5 million are e-bikes.

However, e-bikes are a blessing for retailers: Consumers in Germany spend an average of around 2300 euros on a new electric bike. That is more than twice as much as customers shell out on average for a normal mountain bike and more than four times the price of a city bike.
Start-ups are also involved in the market

Bosch now offers special drives for different needs. With the motors for cargo bikes, for example, loads of up to 250 kilograms can be accelerated to either 25 or 45 kilometers an hour. It is a high-tech system offered by the division based in Reutlingen. Sensors continuously measure torque, speed and acceleration so that the riders can safely master the heavy wheel at all times.
Loads of up to 250 kilograms can be accelerated to either 25 or 45 kilometers an hour. Bosch

Bosch Cargorad

Loads of up to 250 kilograms can be accelerated to either 25 or 45 kilometers an hour.

Picture: Bosch

For e-mountain bikes, the Swabians have developed a motor that provides more than three times the force of the cyclist. It can also be used to tackle demanding trails. For Bosch customers Trek, the electric bikes for the terrain are an attractive, additional business. "With e-mountain bikes, we bring people back into sport who have already stopped doing it," says developer the Hertog. Bosch supplies more than 70 brands in total.

The evaluation of the user data shows that users with e-bikes not only covered significantly longer distances. They also use the wheels twice as often, according to Bosch.

Given the boom, almost all manufacturers are rushing to do business. There is therefore fierce competition among the manufacturers of e-bikes. The leading providers in this country are Cube, Haibike, Prophete, Kalkhoff and Fischer. The suppliers are also in tough competition with each other. The main drive manufacturers in Germany are Bosch and Brose, while Japan includes Panasonic, Shimano and Yamaha.

Start-ups are also increasingly trying to earn their money with electric bikes. With Rebike 1, for example, Sven Erger is trying to build a platform for young used vehicles in Munich. The entrepreneur runs a rental station in Oberstdorf where he offers up to 250 electric bikes. After a month of use, he then sold the bikes on his internet portal. The founder also offers subscription e-bikes.

Bosch also has much more to offer than the drive. With their so-called smartphone hub, the Swabians offer a kind of mobile control center for the electric bike. The athletes can use a small screen to navigate, record their fitness data, make calls or operate services such as Strava. And that's not all: The company has also developed a digital lock that can be used to lock the engine. It serves as additional protection next to the chain or padlock. Without a drive, an e-bike is practically worthless.

The organization chart now shows how important the wheels are for the group: Until now, e-bikes were part of automotive electronics. From January 1st, they will be a separate division.

Every second bike sold in the Netherlands is an e-bike. In Germany it is only 25 percent, in most other industrialized countries it is less than five percent. Therefore, the industry continues to expect strong growth, especially since the bikes are getting better all the time, Trek Manager told Hertog: "We are working on making them more and more efficient."

More: John Burke has his Trek bikes built in the traditional diamond factory near Chemnitz. But he doesn't do business with everyone.
 
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