Sales of electric bikes rose significantly in France in 2022, new figures show, with electric models rising to the detriment of traditional push bikes.
Electric bike sales represented 28% of the market in 2022, and were up 12% compared to the previous year, data published by the sector union l’Union Sport & Cycle show.
Electric models (vélos à assistance électriques, VAE) represented one in four bike sales in France, equating to 738,454 sold in total.
It also comes after two years of already-soaring sales (2020 and 2021) linked to Covid-19.
“This figure is extraordinary,” said Jérôme Valentin, vice-president and director of Cycleurope, one of the main French bike manufacturers (alongside Gitane and Peugeot).
“We are coming out of two years of health crisis, which were very good for bikes, and we were expecting a year of consolidation, with a stable figure. Well, no, demand did not drop.”
Average cost of around €2,000
Electric bikes are mainly sold by specialist cycling shops and cycle repair shops but also at major sporting stores such as Decathlon. The bikes are typically sold for an average of €1,965 although Decathlon has some lower-range models.
Government aid for buying a bike, known as the bonus vélo, was due to end in 2022, however, it was announced at the start of January that the scheme has been extended to the end of 2023.
All-road electric bikes and electric VTT (mountain trail) bikes saw a sharp rise, as did bikes with cargo trailers used for transporting children and goods. In total the French cycling market represents €3.6 billion in total, including electric bikes and traditional push bikes (as well as repairs and accessories).
Push bike demand down
The overall number of bike sales dropped by 7% in 2022 to 2,596,199, with the increased sales of electric bikes happening to the detriment of traditional push bikes.
Mr Valentin said: “The drop in traditional push bikes is linked to a drop in popularity of low-cost bikes, so children’s and entry-level models, in major multisport stores.”
He said that this drop in popularity of push bikes was partly due to a “saturation” among families, and more people choosing to buy second-hand bikes.
Electric bike production in France grew by 7% in 2022, with more than 850,000 made. In 2023, this number exceeded 900,000 for the first time, the figures show.
A new ‘plan vélo’
It comes as the government in France is planning a new ‘plan vélo’ for summer, to continue to encourage people in France to use bikes.
It has also given the bike manufacturing industry an ambitious target to make two million bike products in France by 2030, with one manufacturing line including all types of bikes.
Today most of the bikes imported in their entirety into France come from Italy, Romania, Portugal, and Taiwan (although this dropped by 7% in 2022).
Mr Valentin said: “There is considerable growth potential in the next five to seven years. We have a €3 billion market in front of us.”
France aligning with European trends
Mr Valentin added that “the major bike countries (Netherlands, Germany) have seen exactly the same trends (an overall drop of 13% in 2022)” as in France.
The figures also show that in the Netherlands for the first time ever more than half of the bikes sold in 2022 were electric models.