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US e-Bike Market Takes Off

NEW YORK, US ĘC Amidst the financial crisis the US bike market and in particular the e-Bike segment is doing business very well. Reports say that the number of e-bikes sold in the U.S. is expected to reach a record 170,000 units this year as big retailers get in on this fast growing market.
Unfortunately it are not the IBDs who are giving a push to the market, but large retailers like Wal-Mart and Toys "R" Us. Earlier this year, Wal-Mart began selling bicycles from Currie Technologies, the largest maker of e-bikes in the US, in 145 stores. More recently, the world's largest retailer expanded availability to more than 450 locations.
By next spring, Wal-Mart plans to sell the e-Bikes in more than 850 stores, says Larry Pizzi, president of Currie, based in Chatsworth, Calif. Toys 'R' Us plans to expand its distribution of the e-bikes tenfold, to 550 stores. "This has been the most rapid growth year in the company's 10-year history," Pizzi says. "We have seen dramatically increased interest of the consumer thanks to financial motivations and environmental concerns."
How long will the e-Bike boom last? The US have seen dramatic decline in gas prices in recent months. Eric Sundin, president of Electric Bikes Northwest & California, one of the largest distributors of high-end electric bikes like Giant, stated: "I have noticed a slowdown in mid-October, but that is typically the slow season for our industry. If gas prices come down, people will be come less interested. Bicycle purchases are largely correlated to the disposable income."
Bruno Maier, executive vice-president for marketing at Cannondale Bicycle, the maker of Schwinn-brand bikes, expects his company's US e-bike sales to jump fivefold between August 2007, when Cannondale introduced its first electric bike, and next year. To meet anticipated demand, the manufacturer plans to double its investment in e-bikes in 2009 and to establish a separate product group focused on the motorized models.