E-bike sales slow for first time in five years, research shows

New research from Mintel has revealed that for the first time in five years, volume and value sales of e-bikes have dipped.

The average cost of an e-bike has risen 25% since the start of the pandemic, research has also shown. The number of e-bikes sold rose a record 63% between 2019 and 2020 – the highest annual growth over the period 2017-22, reaching an estimated 155,000 bikes in 2020.

Following five consecutive years of growth, volume sales are expected to have slowed in 2022, falling from 160,000 bikes in 2021 back to an estimated 155,000 bikes in 2022. Nevertheless, volume sales have almost tripled over the past five years – as only around 55,000 e-bikes were sold in 2017.

The value of the e-bike sector almost doubled between 2019 and 2020, from £150 million to £290 million. This is an almost fivefold increase since 2017 when the market was worth £65 million. However, the overall cycling market has entered a sharp downturn over the past 18 months, driven by falling consumer demand and exacerbated by ongoing supply chain problems.

In 2022, value sales of e-bikes hit an estimated £310 million, down from £330 million in 2021. Although sales are set to temporarily slow between 2022 and 2023, Mintel is predicting faster growth to return to the e-bike market from 2024 onwards.

While e-hybrid/city bikes and e-mountain bikes account for 90% of e-bike sales, Mintel research has highlighted the potential for e-cargo bikes, as almost half (47%) of Brits agree that e-cargo bikes should be used for deliveries in cities instead of vans.

Mintel research has also estimated that around 175,000 e-scooters were sold in the UK in 2021 (around 100,000 adult e-scooters and 75,000 kid e-scooters). The value of this sector in 2021 was estimated to be around £50 million (about £40 million for adult e-scooters and £10 million for kid e-scooters).

This comes as 55% of consumers agree that the rising cost of petrol and public transport has made e-bicycles more appealing, while 44% agree that e-bikes/e-scooters should be used to replace short journeys on other modes of motor transport.

Overall, 7% of adults have used e-mobility modes over the past 12 months, 5% have used an e-bike and 4% have used an e-scooter. Despite relatively low usage, some 43% of adults say they would be interested in test-riding an e-bike and 34% would be interested in test-riding an e-scooter.

Read more: Price wars – is there a better way?

Paul Davies, category director, leisure research, Mintel Reports, said: “Cost is seen by consumers as the biggest barrier to e-bike sales, and the weakness of the pound is likely to push prices higher in this heavily import-led market. Although e-bike customers tend to be relatively affluent, a protracted cost-of-living crisis and income squeeze are likely to delay purchase decisions and some consumers will be priced out of the market. The lack of e-bike purchase subsidies from the government (as seen in other countries) also continues to act as a barrier.

“Brands would benefit from promoting the ‘wellness plus fun’ angle of e-bikes, positioning health benefits—physical and mental—combined with a focus on how e-bikes bring fun to transport. E-bikes offer a more leisurely option, supplementing the still popular, Lycra-clad, performance cycling ethos.”

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