According to the latest data from Confindustria ANCMA (May 2018) the Italian bike market is unchanged with regard to traditional models, but growing strongly with regard to e-bikes.
We are talking about pedaling-assisted bicycle or EPAC, PEDELEC: in short, those that do not exceed 25Km/h and 250Watt maximum power rating, covered by European Directive 2002/24/EC.
If the sales of traditional bicycles vary positively by 1% compared to 2016, it is therefore a fairly flat market, however, the situation is different if considering the e-bike sector, where the variation is +19% compared to 2016, in perfect trend with data from all over Europe. The figure for e-bike imports is in line, showing an increase of 21% in 2017 compared to 2016.
The growth of preferences for this type of two-wheeled vehicle is also supported by the production side, whose numbers are even more positive: it goes from 23,600 pieces produced in 2016 to 35,000 vehicles last year with a +48%. A whole chain of Made in Italy vehicles is developed, both in terms of assembling and above all in terms of engine construction and electrical and electronic components.
“The 2017 market data confirm the great change taking place in previous years: the E-Bikes are changing the way of cycling – said Andrea Dell’Orto, president of Ancma Confindustria – so much so that in ANCMA we have created, along with motorcycles and quadricycles, a Group Electric Vehicles to give the proper support to this new mobility. More and more 2-wheeled enthusiasts are choosing pedaling-assisted bicycles for urban traffic and sports, especially on mountain roads. Agility and the reduction of travel fatigue are just two of the positive indicators of this growth in both production and export. With the introduction of e-roads we will see an even more significant increase in sales thanks to the tradition of Italians towards this bicycle”.
The e-bike revolution has an impact on the insurance industry for two main reasons: mandatory third-party liability and theft/damage protection.
The European Commission has presented a legislative proposal that could make the third-party liability policy for e-bikes compulsory, treating this type of bicycle as an equivalent to all other power-driven vehicles. The proposal is not meaningless, especially in urban contexts, as the boom in these vehicles has led to an increase in accidents in many places such as Germany. (New York has already reached the extreme: e-bikes have been banned since last year).
To be honest, the proposal has been widely challenged and has raised doubts on the part of those who consider it excessive and discouraging, such as the European Cyclists Federation (ECF), which has tabled a petition to the contrary. Adam Bodor, the director of the association said: “A compulsory insurance for the electric bike would discourage millions of citizens to use this means – he says – thwarting the efforts and investments of the European Union to promote sustainable mobility”.
It is not therefore impossible that this bill will end up eliminating pedaling-assisted bicycles from the law, but it is nevertheless a hint of the fact that a new market is opening up for companies: e-bikers are regularly made aware of the advisability of a policy – rather than the obligation – for their own and others’ safety.
Especially if this policy is combined with the second decisive element, protection against theft and damage. It is not new, and it is unfortunately before our eyes, that theft and damage of bicycles are very frequent in Italy (and beyond), an investigation by Facile.it found that a bike is stolen every two minutes. Clearly the economic damage resulting from the theft and damage of an e-bike can also be quite high, although, according to the above-mentioned Confindustria ANCMA report, the theft of an e-bike is somewhat more difficult than a normal bike, even representing one of the reasons why they are chosen. “If we remember to remove the small computer that manages the electronics, the bike becomes unusable while if we bring with us even the battery is foolish to steal a vehicle for which, later, it is necessary to spend a lot of money to buy a battery in the after market”.
However, the fact of the theft and damage occurring remains undisputed. In an urban context where smart mobility is a priority, where an e-bike becomes a tool for work (riders and deliverymen) or a vehicle replacing the car, therefore used regularly, the space for insurance policies seems very encouraging. Especially if the companies also take advantage of the possibilities offered by digitization in the definition of on-demand and customized policies.