E-bikes sales benefit from COVID recovery cycle

E-bike sales have risen fast in big cities and are picking up overseas as people try to avoid using public transportation, but the rural market is already saturated.

By TANG Jun, SHEN Jiaojiao, HUANG Jiawei


In a world more polarized than ever – home-outside, healthy-unhealthy, safe-unsafe – people are changing the way they get about, specifically, how they get to and from work.

Earlier this month, our reporter approached a customer in an e-bike store in Beijing as she looked at a new bike priced at almost 3,000 yuan (US$430). The customer said she now considered an e-bike much safer for commuting than taking the bus.

Her opinion is shared by many. Compared with a bustling, enclosed public transportation, an e-bike ride is a more immediately refreshing experience.

While many sectors of the economy stumble toward recession, sales of e-bikes have been doing very nicely.  For listed companies YADEA and NIU, quarterly sales have increased by over 60 percent and net profits by a lot more.

Driven by hunger

Two kinds of people buy e-bikes: delivery men and commuters, according to an e-bike store owner in Beijing. He said the business was slow during the breakout, but as everything returns to normal, the business has taken quite an upturn. Even in small stores outside the city, sales may be up fourfold.

At a Yadea store, it was the same story. Commuters are buying e-bikes priced at 2000 - 3000 yuan.

The e-bikes market has been driven by the expansion of the food delivery business, according to Chen Junbin of CITIC Securities. More than a million new riders will register this year 2020.

Since June this year, the share price of three listed e-bike companies, Yadea, Niu, and Xinri, has risen sharply in the past couple of months. Yadea is up by over 50 percent, Niu and Xinri have more than doubled.

Although the general picture is rosy, sales are concentrated in and around big urban areas with little good news elsewhere.

A salesperson on the outskirts Shanghai told reporters that the store’s main customers are migrant workers: “Summer is peak season and sales are picking up. But since most people already have one, there is no significant increase from our usual business.”

The different performances of sales between the urban and rural areas could be explained by preferences in travel. Outside of cities, people don’t commute much, and when they do, they don’t rely on public transportation, so everyone who wants an e-bike already has one.

World e-bike tour

It’s all a headache for regulators. April 2019, a new standard was released, demarcating the boundary between electric bicycles and electric motorcycles with a maximum pre-set speed of 25 kilometers per hour, weight of 55 kilograms and output of 400W from a 48-volt battery pack. All bikes need a proper registration plate.

CITIC Securities said that with the new standard, the government has opened the way for more shared e-bikes. It is expected that more than 7 million shared e-bikes will be on the streets in 2020.

The increase in domestic sales has led to demand from oversea, with Europe accounting for around 20 percent to 30 percent of demand. Overseas revenue accounted for 14.9 percent of Niu’s sales last year, rising to 28.9 percent in the first quarter. Exports of Yadea electric vehicles have also increased significantly. According to CCTV Finance, Yadea's plant has doubled its production capacity.