Sunday, January 08, 2006

Bicycles outsell cars in Australia?

The Sydney Morning Herald reports today (or would it already be tomorrow there?) that the sale of bicycles have outnumbered the sale of cars for the sixth consecutive year.

This might be an interesting article, but I feel that there are some key elements in need of exploration to make this a journalistic piece, rather than a piece of marketing copy.

Firstly, the above fact was presented to the SMH by the Cycling Promotion Fund. The CPF is an organization which only includes companies involved in the bicycle industry in Australia, so we can only be correct in the assumption there is a *tiny* bit of patting their own backs here. That's fine and dandy.

Secondly, let's look at the pure economics. The Morning Herald says:

The CPF's Rosemarie Speidel said sales of 1,120,337 bicycles in Australia last year were 13 per cent ahead of motor vehicle sales, which came in at 988,269.

That's cute. But let's say an average new car costs $25,000 (I'm being conservative here).

988,269 new cars x $25,000 a pop = $24,706,725,000

And let's say the average bicycle - and I know this is too high - costs $1000.

1,120,337 bicycles x $1000 a pop = 1,120,337,000

Not bad! A billion dollar industry versus a 24.7 billion dollar industry. Cars make, produce, and consume a lot more money, and are certainly a bigger economic driver than bicycles in all aspects. They're also integral to keeping a country like Australia (or the US) running well. But it's interesting to look at pure sales figures (albeit my figures are manufactured). I would love to know these figures for the US, and also for China. Anyone have any idea?

I have no real opinion here in terms of the old political bike vs. car argument. I like to keep politics out of my cycling. As politically charged as I am, I like to try to think of my bike as the great equalizer with my political foes. My cars have their place as tools in my life, and I use them as such. But this is an interesting topic, and one that deserves more exploration.

Well, time for my Sunday ride.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's a fair enough extrapolation and comment. There is enough recent data out there that suggests the total Australian bicycle industry is now a billion dollar one. However the avg bike sales dollar value you use are way too high, $300 is probably more like it. Throw in the rest (clothing etc..) and you have a billion.

I've seen sales figures that also suggest that bicycles outsold vehicle sales in the US in the past year.

Globally bicycles outsold cars in figures for 2003, sorry, I'm tired right now Gino (9:30 pm) but I've got the links somewhere on my blog.

Nice to find your blog by the way....Technorati works it's magic.