The Portuguese bicycle industry: an emerging industry facing new challenges

Renowned for its high production volumes, the Portuguese bicycle industry continues to develop and structure itself. Its aim is now to move towards more premium and innovative production.

2022, a record year for Portuguese exports

Unsurprisingly, 2022 was a record year for the Portuguese bike industry. As early as the first quarter of the year, the outlook was bright, with a 38% increase in the value of exports over the previous period. This trend continued throughout the year. As a result, between 2021 and 2022, the value of exports rose by 37%, from €594 million to €800 million. This was mainly made possible by imports to the French and German markets. With this performance, Portugal is now Europe’s leading bicycle producer, with over 3 million units produced.

Portugal develops its electric bike production

In this context, the e-bike stands out. Faced with growing demand from cyclists, manufacturers are stepping up their production of electric bikes. Although more expensive than a conventional bike, this is leading to an upmarket trend. A comparison between the rate of change in the value of exports and the rate of change in export volumes clearly illustrates this phenomenon. Between 2021 and 2022, the number of units produced increased by only 100,000 units, or 3.45%. By contrast, the production and export of electric bicycles has increased by 60% in one year.

Portugal, domestic production of components to overcome shortages

To face up to the shortage of components that hit the market in 2021, the Portuguese bicycle industry organized itself to become more self-sufficient. Year-on-year, the volume of components produced increased by 70%. This increase is the result of the many investments made in the sector during the year. For example, Carbon Team inaugurated a new carbon frame production plant in 2022, with a planned capacity of 25,000 units by 2024.

How is the Portuguese industry an example of structuring? 

The performance of the Portuguese bicycle industry is the result of the efforts made by the entire sector to gear production towards performance and top-of-the-range products.

The Portuguese market’s dynamism: results made possible by industry  

This dynamism of the Portuguese market is the visible result of a profound work of structuring and innovation carried out behind the scenes by the entire industry. As early as 2021, ABIMOTA, a grouping of 39 companies and organizations from the cycle industry, organized to launch an industry recovery and resilience plan guided by the European Union: AM2R. Estimated at 6.6 billion euros for the period 2021-2026, this plan includes the raising of funding, but also practical actions such as the launch of a platform facilitating meetings between buyers and manufacturers.

Subsequently, 2022 saw the creation of Bikinnov (Bike Value Innovation Center ), an association of cycle professionals aiming to revitalize the Portuguese industry with innovative projects. For this purpose, they created a Technological Innovation Center (TIC). This 20 million investment project is aimed at the two-wheeled and soft mobility sector, with the aim of offering all companies a suitable environment in which to innovate and develop their products.

mechanic in a bicycle repair shop oiling the chain of a bike

Portugal, an attractive investment destination

The ecosystem created by industry players fosters a climate conducive to investment. As a result, many companies are planning to invest in the region. A number of major groups have been attracted to the region, and are investing on a massive scale. In addition to Carbon Team, by 2022 many players such as RTE SA, Europe’s leading bicycle manufacturer, will also be relocating to Portugal.

Portugal, a producer but not yet a user 

With only 1% modal share, Portugal is lagging behind in terms of bicycle use. In fact, 90% of the country’s bicycle production is destined for export.

In Lisbon, almost 60% of journeys are made by car. To remedy this situation, the Portuguese government has launched its first 10-year bicycle plan (2020-2030). The plan includes both short- and long-term objectives. By 2025, the plan aims to increase the modal share of cycling in cities by 3 points, reduce the number of accidents involving cyclists by 25% and build 5,000 km of cycle paths. Ultimately, by 2030, the aim is to achieve a 10% modal share, 10,000 km of cycle paths and a 50% reduction in the number of incidents.

In conclusion, by organizing itself around a new strategy, the pPortuguese bicycle market is experiencing a positive evolution with a booming industry, increased exports and investments. Electric bikes are playing a key role in this market growth, with a sharp increase in production linked to this segment, boosting the overall value of the market. However, while Portugal is a major producer, there is still a lot to be done in terms of bicycle use, which is still low.