Bicycle market in Poland 2022: How to explain the gap between production and consumption?

With a rich history in bicycle production dating back to the 19th century, Poland has always stood out as a key player in the European bicycle industry. In recent years, the country’s industrial strategy in bicycle production has accelerated, to become one of the most attractive countries for the bicycle industry in Europe.

Why is the Polish bicycle market attractive to the European bicycle industry?

With 1,040,000 units produced by 2022, Poland is Europe’s 5th largest bicycle producer, behind Portugal, Romania, Italy and Germany. The dynamic Polish bicycle and accessory manufacturing market is growing by around 15% every year.

Poland, at the heart of Europe’s bicycle exchanges

An integral part of Poland’s successful establishment in European bicycle production is its proximity to dynamic markets around the Baltic SeaGermany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, its main trading partners. This trend is confirmed by the growth and distribution of the country’s exports year on year. In fact, 96% of the country’s production is destined for border markets, mainly Germany and the Czech Republic. In 2022, the value of Polish bicycle exports was estimated at 175 million euros, an increase of 13.4% on the previous year.

An attractive environment for investment

Poland benefits from a favorable investment climate due to a number of factors. With an average minimum wage half that of Western European countries, Poland offers companies a labor force that is less expensive but equally qualified in terms of engineering and innovation skills. In addition to this attractive workforce, the country benefits from an advantageous tax system for businesses. As a result, a local economic landscape is emerging, bringing together young start-ups and large, well-established companies. This creates a dynamic that favors investment and innovation, with major brands such as Kross, TrybEco and Karbon.

Poland gains a place in the sun thanks to electric bikes

Around 20% of Polish bicycle production is electric. With an estimated total export value of 148 million euros in 2022, Poland is the world’s 10th largest exporter of electric bicycles and Europe’s second largest producer of electric bicycles, behind Germany. This position is due to the presence of several local players in the production of electric bikes or their components, such as Johnson Matthew Battery Systems, a major manufacturer of batteries for electric bikes which decided in 2021 to set up a branch in Poland. Today, this branch employs almost 1,000 people and manufactures over 3.5 million batteries a year.

Why electric bikes aren’t yet widely used in Poland?

A price too high for the local market

Despite positive indicators in terms of production and consumption outside the country, momentum on the domestic market is less pronounced. According to the Polish Bicycle Association, by 2022, only 10% of bicycles sold in Poland would be electric, despite the bike’s good reputation. The main obstacle to buying a bike is price, especially for the electric version. According to the annual report of the Polish Bicycle Association, 66% of Poles surveyed would like to see the introduction of financing solutions for the acquisition of electric bikes, because even though a law on electromobility exists, it does not take electric bikes into account. As a result, 22% of those questioned said they would buy an electric bike if its price were lowered thanks to subsidies.

This call for subsidies is also supported by the industry, which sees the lack of official financial support as a reason for the slow development of the e-bike market compared with other European countries that use it.

A ray of hope for a wider adoption of bicycles in Poland

With only €0.05 invested per capita, the Polish government’s efforts to encourage the bicycle industry are very limited. Although progress is slow, electric bikes are gaining ground in Poland. According to the Polish Bicycle Association’s annual report, 38% of Poles surveyed in 2022 planned to buy an electric bike in the next 12 months. Of these, 63% cited speed, flexibility and freedom from the car as reasons for buying an electric bike. In an inflationary context, 70% of respondents said that owning an electric bike is more economical than owning a car, and would enable them to reduce their mobility-related expenses. In this fast-growing market, cyclists are expressing a strong need for education, and 51% are turning to specialist stores.

Moreover, to cope with the price constraint, the Poles are finding new channels of use thanks to free-floating and acquisition with the second-hand market, which accounts for 43% of sales.

In conclusion, in an emerging market where price remains the primary barrier to consumption, electric bike brands need to think up flexible solutions adapted to these consumers, whose realities are different from those of Western Europe.