Volkswagen is now leasing bikes in Germany: is this just the beginning?
Last week we pondered whether cycling could benefit from adopting a car sales model. One of the pillars of car sales discussed was leasing and financing.
Shortly after publishing this article, I asked in an Instagram poll if riders would consider leasing their next bike. A resounding 67% said no. But that doesn’t seem to have worried Volkswagen, which has just launched bicycle leasing and financing in Germany.
Volkswagen Financial Services, VW’s financial services division, will offer bike and e-bike leasing options to companies and their employees. At the same time, VW will offer bike financing options for private individuals.
VWFS, which also provides financial services for Audi and Skoda, will offer private financing for bikes ranging from €500 to €10,000 which can even include helmets, and some accessories. More than 600 bike shops across Germany will offer the service and, interestingly, it is free for retailers to provide.
The leasing option for German-based companies is said to be advantageous to both employer and employee. The employer can provide a “cost-neutral”, easy-to-set-up incentive for employees. Employee can avail themselves of a tax benefit by paying for the bike directly from their gross salary, have a choice of bikes for both commuting and private use, with servicing costs included. An employee can even lease two bikes at once.
A link on the VWFS bike leasing page states “Volkswagen Financial Services AG will in future be cooperating with the mobility service provider Bike Mobility Services GmbH”. This is interesting because Bike Mobility Services GMBH is a subsidiary of Derby Cycle Holding, Germany’s largest bicycle producer by sales.
Derby Cycle Holding sells nearly half a million bikes per annum in Germany, including over 100,000 e-bikes from brands including Focus and Raleigh.
But that is not the full story. Derby Cycle Holding is owned by the PON Group, one of the largest companies in the Netherlands with a turnover of €7.5 billion and 12,000 employees. The global group has “several hundred” sites dotted across 27 countries. The company’s website explains its activities as “involved in mobility products, services, and solutions globally. We also offer hundreds of industry solutions”.
PON claims to be the number-one car importer in the Netherlands with marques such as VW, Audi, Skoda, Porsche, and Bentley helping them to a 20% market share. PON also has a large bike operation claiming to be “one of the top five players in the global bicycle industry” which seems to add up given that PON owns brands such as Cervelo and BBB, along with those brands already under the Derby Cycle Holding umbrella.
With such large players in the global automobile and cycling industry involved, one gets a sense the new VWFS offering in Germany is a pilot run of sorts. Will we see similar services rolled out around the globe?