Chinese e-bike brands enter European market – challenging barriers

Chinese e-bike brands enter European market - challenging barriers

The outlook for Europe’s new energy vehicle market is bright, with not only EU policy overwhelmingly in favour of carbon neutrality, but also car companies scrambling to announce electrification timetables.

However, as the medium- and long-distance travel circuit is nearing saturation, there are new opportunities in the short-distance direction, known as the “last mile”.

The answer is the e-bike, a two-wheeled mechanical means of transport that has been popular in Europe for nearly 150 years and is still a necessary leisure, fitness and entertainment vehicle for every family.

Doesn’t it sound even more exciting to equip a bike with motors, controllers, and sensor parts to make riding easier, but at the same time keep the pedals and discs to give the user the power to intervene at any time to control the vehicle?

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    Unsurprisingly, this track is kind of packed with players right now.

    Among the Chinese brands focusing on the European market, TENWAYS, Urtopia and DYU are among the leaders, and have already completed hundreds of millions of RMB in financing in total.

    DYU co-founder and CEO Ma Yuqi once said in the media, “By 2022, the world will have sold 7.5 million e-bikes, and China will have accounted for 3-3.3 million units.”

    However, as a traditional large bicycle market, European countries have also incubated a number of well-known local e-bike brands in recent years, such as Onemile, Mate.Bike and so on. What are the top 10 electric bike brands in the world?

    What kind of surprises or obstacles will be encountered when a group of outsiders with huge amounts of capital confidently break into Europe?

    Background of the rapid rise of the e-bike market in Europe

    Sounds a bit incredible. A customer price of $1,000-3,000 for electric bicycles, equivalent to the RMB, has generally been tens of thousands, but in the epidemic these years of inflation is serious, the cost of living soaring in Europe and the United States and developed countries ushered in counter-trend growth.

    Some data show that from 2017 to 2021, e-bike sales in the European and North American markets have increased from 2.5 million to 6.4 million, an increase of 156% in four years.

    Similarly, Precedence Research reports that the global e-bike market size was $17.56 billion in 2021, up 6.49% year-on-year, and is expected to reach $40.98 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of about 10%.

    And focusing on E-bike’s largest market in Europe, Germany, the Netherlands and other traditional bicycle countries in the past two years, the market growth rate of more than 30%, the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (CONEBI), the World Economic Forum and other organizations predicted that by 2025, Europe’s e-bike market sales are expected to exceed 12 million units.

    Background of the rapid rise of the e-bike market in Europe

    In terms of current sales, although it seems that the new energy vehicle market maintains a high boom, the number of e-bikes bought by Europeans in a year is already more than that of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

    Europe’s cycling culture is deep and strong, with the world’s three largest cycling events all landing here, while cities and towns have narrow streets, complex road conditions, generally have bike lanes, and the general terrain is mountainous and steep, with a greater need for auxiliary power for older cyclists and long-distance commuters.

    And if you think about it from an economic point of view, with car penetration already as high as almost 2 cars per household, putting motors, controllers and sensor parts on bikes may not seem to make much sense for Europeans, but it does solve the pain point of daily commuting to work and weekend sports and leisure – the cost problem.

    Taking Ireland, the fourth most expensive country in the European Union in terms of electricity costs.

    For example, the current price per kilowatt-hour of Electric Ireland, the largest power company in Ireland, is €0.43, and a Volkswagen ID. 4 has a battery capacity of 84kwh, with a range of about 550 kilometers.

    SAMEBIKE LO26-II-FT ebike-1

    So a full charge costs €36, and the cost per kilometer is also €0.07; a TENWAYS best-selling CGO600 Pro has a battery capacity of 0.36kwh and a nominal range of 100km, with a charging cost of €0.15 and a cost per kilometer of €0.0015.

    It can be said that if it is only used for a single person commuting around 20-40 kilometers on the way to work, the economy of e-bike simply kills the new energy car, and at the same time, it also saves the trouble of looking for a parking space everywhere and paying high parking fees.

    Even when compared to public transport, the economy of e-bikes still wins, because the cost of public transport in European countries is generally high, and the discount is only for students, and the cost of a one-way bus and subway for adults is as high as €2-3, which is common to spend more than €100 a month.

    It is no wonder that today’s European and American families are equipped with 1-2 cars+ 2-4 e-bikes as standard.

    A cross-border e-bike seller in China once described it this way: “A typical overseas family with many children, as long as one of the parents buys a bike, the other members of the family will basically follow and buy it after the experience.”

    SAMEBIKE RS-A01 pic6

    Therefore, the high rate of repurchase is also an important part of this track to attract overseas capital and brands.

    Even more important is policy. In fact, it’s not that Europeans don’t want to ride popular electric bikes (more like electric motorcycles) in China, but they are bound by strict management policies.

    According to the relevant laws of the European Union, in Europe, the power is greater than 250W, speed in 25km/h – 45km/h pure motor-driven models (that is, China’s electric bikes), classified as L1E-B models. You can also check the best electric bike manufacturers in Europe for your reference.

    In this framework category, the product needs to be certified, the user on the road is required to have a driver’s license, wear a helmet and buy insurance, and can not ride on non-motorized roads.

    Thus, the trivial process of using the car, the management terms and the high cost of cycling dissuaded European consumers, but also let the electric motorcycle basically lose this market.

    The simple and convenient e-bike is considered an “upgraded version of the bike”, and is classified as L1E-A, the same as ordinary bicycles.

    SAMEBIKE XD26 Hybrid Electric Bike-2

    This is because most of the sensors of the e-bike will stop the power assistance once the monitoring speed to more than 25km/h, thus eliminating the complexity of the road procedures, while the size of the European cities are generally smaller, cross-city commuting is only 30 to 40 kilometers of the travel radius, so popular with the European cycling crowd.

    In the process of e-bike occupation in Europe, the support and encouragement of the government has also contributed to this wave of electrification. This is mainly reflected in the purchase of tax relief and various subsidies.

    For example, consumers in the UK can apply for a tax break of 30% of sales, up to £1,500; Belgium has adopted a 100% tax break policy for traders across the country; France’s tax-free transport allowance can be as high as €800;

    SAMEBIKE XWXL09 foldable electric bike-10

    And the Netherlands is increasing the tax-free transport allowance offered to commuters commuting by bike to 21 euro cents per kilometer in 2023 (with a cumulative annual subsidy of potentially more than €1,000), increasing to €23 in 2024, and to €1,000 in 2024.

    This will increase to €23 cents in 2024. In addition, the Netherlands is implementing a “bicycle scheme”, whereby commuters can purchase a bicycle of any style through their employer at a reduced price and benefit from a tax credit of up to 40%, as well as tax exemptions for insurance and maintenance.

    An inventory of the competitive landscape of local brands in Europe

    In the European market, although there has been a definite demand from local consumers, it has not been possible to form a large brand capable of monopolizing the market.

    It should be noted that overseas local brands usually maintain a unit price of more than $2,000, with high parts replacement and maintenance costs, and were once only toys for the middle class and above in the early days.

    Onemile, a brand with French genes, is a newcomer to the short-distance track, and its product, the mile Nomad folding e-bike, became a Netflix product once it hit the market.

    The model is made of magnesium alloy die-casting, lightweight and pressure-resistant, and uses a Tesla Trolley 21700 lithium battery with a built-in BMS, allowing consumers to say goodbye to low battery anxiety.

    An inventory of the competitive landscape of local brands in Europe

    In addition, the Belgian e-bike startup brand Cowboy in 2020 to obtain Italy’s Agnelli family’s early investment fund Exor Seeds invested 23 million euros; DANCE and LEMO and other two German e-bike brand in 2021 and 2022, respectively, to complete a new round of financing.

    There are also a number of car manufacturers in the field. Luxury car brands Porsche, Lamborghini and BBA (Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi) have all pushed e-bike products, while Tesla has launched an e-bike product capable of self-driving, and General Motors has said it plans to launch two e-bikes.

    Among others, Porsche even bought a major stake in e-bike brand Greyp in late 2021, and in May 2022 bought drive system maker Fazua.

    SAMEBIKE LO26-II-FT 21 Speed Folding Mountain Electric Bike-1

    A number of consumer goods companies are also trying to get a piece of the action, with German motor brand Bosch and shared mobility provider Lime already in the picture, the latter having nearly cornered the current shared e-scooter market in Germany, Austria and Hungary with its striking green Lime logo.

    Swytch launched a kit in 2017 that turns any bike into an e-bike for $449.

    Technology iteration and overseas adventures of Chinese e-bike brands

    China’s outgoing brands offer other possibilities. How can Chinese e-bike brands challenge local industry barriers to enter the European market? What are the top 10 electric bike manufacturers in China?

    Similar to the case of other Chinese commodities, the biggest advantage of Chinese e-bike products for export is still relying on China’s highly efficient supply chain system, as well as the extreme price/performance ratio that is difficult for local brands in Europe and the United States to match.

    If we dismantle the parts of an e-bike, we may find that they are all basically based on China’s mature industrial chain.

    The frames come from the architecture of traditional bicycles and some motorcycles, while the batteries, motors and electronic control equipment are derived from the technological overflow of China’s new energy automobile and electric two-wheeled vehicle industries.

    Technology iteration and overseas adventures of Chinese e-bike brands

    The supply chain of these three types of industries has basically reached a state of self-sufficiency in China after many years of development (e-bike doesn’t involve high-end chips for new energy automobiles).

    And the downstream suppliers of the industry are in the process of saturating Chinese demand and The downstream suppliers of the industry are at the window of saturated demand in China and continue to go overseas to look for new growth opportunities.

    Another technical challenge that Chinese manufacturers have overcome is ending their dependence on international center-mounted motors.

    According to Geek Park, the advantage of center-mounted motors is that they can better balance the front and rear parts of the vehicle, but the Chinese industry lacks relevant technology accumulation.

    SAMEBIKE YY26 fat tire electric mountain bike-3

    Later, through targeted research and development of front- and rear-mounted motors, Chinese manufacturers were able to control costs in a balance between pursuing cost-effectiveness and meeting the needs of daily commuting and leisure.

    With a mature industrial chain+ proprietary motor technology, it is only natural that Chinese e-bike brands export their brand value as the best value-for-money products in order to compete with their counterparts in the international market.

    Of course, China’s traditional bicycle and e-bike manufacturers also have a presence in the e-bike field, such as Jiante, Maverick and Yadi.

    Other large companies, some focus on components, such as air conditioning brand Midea into the motorbike track; some belong to cross-border ecological play.

    SAMEBIKE XWXL09 foldable electric bike-5

    For example, Xiaomi, as early as 2016 launched the first generation of electric folding bicycles, the drone brand DJI also launched electric folding bicycles.

    However, although China’s travel brands hitched a ride on the e-bike, still need to be wary of similar to a few years ago, shared bicycle-style bubble, in the cost-effective route at the same time should avoid falling into the low-tech force under the disorderly price war, while good supplier management.

    Because the e-bike products in the three most critical electric technologies are concentrated in the hands of upstream electric bike suppliers, so for the downstream brand of the industry, it can only be in product definition, design, localized operations and other limited scope, it is difficult to form a real sense of industry barriers.

    SAMEBIKE at the Canton Fair-2

    Once counterparts go overseas to find a more stable supply chain, cost-effective prices may not be of any use.

    Perhaps in the near future, we will see the brand in the integration of technology and human resources after the acquisition of suppliers or even build their own factories such events, but also wait for the industry in the full supply of the international market, turn back to feed and cultivate China’s e-bike cycling culture and market.

    Chocolatezhu
    Chocolatezhu
    Hi, I'm an experienced writer about mechanic and an expert on bike and e-bike tech who appreciates practical, beautifully-engineered things. And of course, I love cycling.
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