An interesting article we found on Bike Europe a few years back, explaining the poor understanding of the ‘Pedelec Sector’ and the real market targets for Ebikes – always worth a read!
“Today’s electric bicycle is too old-fashioned”
HEIDELBERG, Germany – Despite the rampant growth of the e-bike sales in Western Europe there has been little change in the target market over the years. Although customers have become slightly younger, their average age is still well over 50. Today’s concepts have not yet exploited the potential
of a ‘human-electric hybrid’ two-wheeler.
by Jan-Willem van Schaik
Those were some of the conclusions drawn by Impulse, which conducted a survey amongst pedelec riders and other potential target groups on the subject of electro- mobility. Impulse is a German institute specializing in market research and consultancy for the mobility and automotive sectors. Is the e-bike market ready for new product developments? That was the aim of Impulse’s market study. Although the study was limited to Germany, it gives a clear picture of people’s expectations about future e-bike concepts.
Weak distribution channel
According to Jürgen Häussler, Managing Partner at Impulse, the distribution via the dealer network is regarded as a weak element for potential younger customers, as the majority of pedelec dealers are geared towards the 50+ demographic. As one respondent put it, “The selling points were fine for my mother but not for me as someone in his early thirties.” Prospective buyers tend to credit dealers with a poor level of expertise, “They read straight from their sales blurb and were unable to explain anything.”People also complained about differing claims regarding the range and life span of the battery, “Each dealer tells you something different.”
Häussler identifies a special need for action, “The dealer plays a major role in the decision-making process. The majority of respondents leave the decision on brand and model until they get to the dealer, from whom they then expect to receive competent advice.” He adds that a sustainable market development for the future calls for new target groups among the under-50s to be addressed. “To this end, the e-bike must transform itself from a mere leisure vehicle to a ‘trendy mode of transport’. Younger target groups such as young working people between the ages of 18 and 30 are very open-minded about smart, innovative means of getting around, particularly in view of the fact that for this generation the car no longer holds the same significance as for their parents.
However, today’s electric bicycle is too ‘old fashioned’ and belongs to the older generation. Nonetheless, the pedelec should remain a bicycle, even for the younger target groups: models with a futuristic looking design are rejected as too outlandish. Concepts that look too much like conventional motorised vehicles are deemed ridiculous.”
As far as city dwellers are concerned, the idea of owning a second car is gradually taking a back seat, for both financial and ecological reasons. “The bicycle is without doubt the best option for getting about in the inner city”, said one female respondent. “The bus has long departed by the time the little one is ready to go with my bicycle complete with child trailer I’m more flexible and relaxed, and I can ride from door to door.”
Bicycle as an alternative
The growing interest in clever new mobility solutions means the bicycle is definitely seen as an alternative to the car, public transport, and the traditional bike. The banning of these s-pedelecs from urban cycle paths in Germany comes as something of a drawback, because the potentially higher speed is no longer considered an advantage.
In addition, people are put off by insurance, helmet, and driving license requirements. The under-18s take a particularly critical stance, “I’m not going to get a driver’s license just to be allowed to ride and pedal,” said one youngster. Most of the s-pedelec riders in the research were commuters who cover longer distances and see the higher speed in terms of an extended travelling range. In their case the cycle path ban was more of an advantage. Hennes Fischer and Jürgen Häussler of Impulse see great opportunities for cycle manufacturers if they flank design-enhanced products with marketing tools that cater to a new clientele. As always, the overall package of product, brand, marketing, and service will prove decisive.
Source: Impulse Research
For more information: www.impulse-research.net