French e-cargobike market triples

The e-cargo market is one of the fastest growing segments in France. In 2020, sales rose by 350% to 11,000 units, according to the French Cycle Observatory. Even though France lags way behind Germany where 78,000 units have been sold, it could quickly catch up according to the forecasts of the Union Sport & Cycle, which predicts that the French market could reach 50,000 units in the next few years... that is, if supply allows. 

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Similarly to the UK, where 60% market growth in e-cargo bikes is being forecast, the French market is also experiencing rapid growth. Although the reported sales increase does not specify whether this figure also includes direct sales by manufacturers or those made by specialised intermediaries to cities and companies, it is clear to see that the market continues to grow.


Growing number of brands on market

The e-cargo bike category appeals to both a family and professional clientele that are looking to adopt a new approach to travel. For families, this means replacing the second car with an e-cargo bike for use in the city or in suburban areas. As for companies, they are developing electric two-wheeled fleets to replace combustion engine vehicles.


The consequences of this craze are multiple on the French market. The number of brands has increased considerably, including established players such as Babboe, Urban Arrow, Douze Cycles, Riese & Müller alongside other manufacturers which are gradually moving into this category, such as the French company O2Feel.


B2C, B2B and B2G

The distribution pattern has followed this trend as William Goujon, manager of B-Link Mobility and agent of Urban Arrow, points out. “Years ago, some retailers just had one model on display. They were reluctant to have more than one brand and now they offer several with longtail and cargos,” he says. 


Arno Liegeon, communications manager for the French brand Douze cycles, agrees. “Independent retailers choose a brand with strength and conviction, work on it in depth, and know it in detail,” he explains. Retail chains are also following this trend, such as Cyclable and Ecox. Moreover, sales in this segment are no longer limited to city centres. “The customer numbers in the suburbs and in rural areas are growing,” adds Arno Liegon.


An evolution in distribution

Already a vector of growth, the demand from businesses continues to grow, leading to an evolution in distribution. “We have more and more requests from organisations that canvass companies and communities. These structures have a catalogue of brands and come to promote soft mobility. These are new jobs that are being created,” notes Alexandre Lemoine, Riese & Müller’s Northern sales manager for France.


Jack de Jong, who oversees Babboe’s professional markets, sees the opportunity of this new demand. “Orders are often placed for 5 or 10 units. For Babboe, this segment represents 10% of the business and it’s growing every year. The business segment may be considerably smaller than the consumer segment, but more and more companies are contacting us,” he adds.


Meeting the huge potential

All these green lights suggest that the outlook for the coming season is good. The question is whether the industry can meet this strong demand for the 2022 season. For the moment, many manufacturers are experiencing difficulties in delivering due to the shortage of components and materials. As if that wasn’t enough, there is also the increase in transportation costs with the price of a container quadrupling in price.


All this has an impact on sales prices, and brands are making no secret that they will raise their prices in 2022. While it seems certain that the e-cargo, longtail and three-wheeler segment is on the right track, its growth could be slowed. It will probably be necessary to position oneself early to ensure that there are enough bikes to sell.


Text: Michel de Chavanon


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