TAICHUNG, Taiwan (BRAIN)—Giant’s CEO Tony Lo offered a more modest vision for growth in Europe’s electric bike market, vowed to continue improving the business talents of retailers worldwide, and praised new cooperation between mainland China and Taiwan.
In a wide-ranging interview with 14 international editors in Taiwan as part of a program sponsored by TAITRA, Lo said he doubted that Europeans would buy some three million new electric bikes over the next few years despite predictions that sales would soar.
“Everybody at Eurobike had an electric bike to show—road, mountain bikes and downhill bikes. The market’s increasing year by year but I believe it is a slower-growing market,” he said, when asked about predictions of future growth. “The market continues to grow, but I don’t believe it will grow three million units by 2015,” he said.
A variety of European car companies are touting the addition of electric bikes bearing their brand name, but Lo pointed out that over the years the car industry—companies like Mercedes, Porsche and others—put bikes in their showrooms with little sales success. Electric bikes sold in car showrooms will fade away as well, he predicted.
Giant also makes e-scooters for the Asian market and Lo predicts growth in e-scooters will continue, particularly in Taiwan and China. Both countries face problems with air pollution and Taiwan, as an island, must import all its oil and gas. Taiwan’s government offers financial incentives to consumers buying electric scooters in hopes of reducing the 4 million gas-powered scooters currently on the road.
As for the current thaw in relations between Taiwan and China, both nations will benefit, Lo said. Taiwan has seen a surge in tourism from Mainland China, giving the tourist sector a boost. And direct flights between Taiwan and China have improved business relations, he said, noting that a recently signed trade pact will eliminate duties on exports between the countries over the next two years.
That will make it easier for Taiwanese companies, which generally produce higher value products, to reach a growing Chinese market. “We believe Giant is in the right position for that,” he said, referring to Giant’s high-end line of bikes.
As for retailers, Lo said consumer expectations for retail are much higher today and many medium to small-size dealers have to improve the retail experience. “Some retailers are still behind. They need to merchandise better and improve communication,” he said. Giant wants to work with dealers to help improve their business, he said.
As for Giant’s continued push with concept stores, Lo pointed out that it’s not Giant’s desire to own its own stores. Instead, Giant wants to find the right partners and work with them over time. “It is important for us to really understand retailing. For us, we are still learning every day,” he said.