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E-bikes, lighting systems bright spots in Taiwan exports for 2016

Published March 21, 2017

TAIPEI, Taiwan (BRAIN) – There is little doubt that 2016 was a rough year for Taiwan's cycling industry. Complete bike exports decreased just over 26 percent by volume, from 3.9 million units in 2015 to 2.94 million in 2016, and fell nearly 22 percent by value last year compared with 2015. 

According to export data compiled by the Taiwan Bicycle Association, complete bike export volume to most foreign markets fell, including to Japan, one of Taiwan's largest market in Asia, decreasing 31 percent to 187,000 units in 2016. Exports to China fell from 100,000 units in 2015 to 74,000 in 2011 — a decrease of just over 26 percent.

But it's not all doom and gloom here. There are still some bright spots for the island's manufacturers, including e-bike exports, which are by far Taiwan's most robust category with a growth of nearly 57 percent from 83,000 units in 2015 to 132,000 units last year.

Taiwan's average unit selling price continues to creep up each year, with a 5.99 percent growth to $502 from $473.98 in 2015.

While bicycle parts exports slipped slightly from 1.09 billion units in 2015 to 1.07 billion in 2016, bicycle derailleur exports saw a bump, totaling $33.64 million in 2016 — up nearly 35 percent over 2015. Lighting equipment was another growth category for Taiwan, with total export volume reaching 132,000 units, a 58.6 percent increase over exports in 2015.

The EU and North America are Taiwan's largest markets for lighting systems. The TBA attributes the category's growth to an increase in transit cycling globally. As cycling rises in popularity, an emphasis on safety and visibility has also increased. And as manufacturers continue to integrate lighting systems into the design of some commuter and other city models, Taiwan could see even more growth in the lighting category in the coming years.

Other integrated “smart” technologies, including GPS tracking and smartphone connectivity, could also prove to be an opportunity for Taiwanese companies.

“Four of the seven d&i award winners in 2016 were Taiwanese companies,” TBA president Michael Tseng said. “We are innovative, and we're marching into smarter technologies in the cycling industry. Our goal is to make the industry continue to shine in the world.”

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen addressed journalists and VIPs at the 30th annual Taipei Cycle Show opening ceremony on Wednesday, emphasizing the country's long history of innovation and the potential to increase Taiwan's production of smart technologies.

“Taiwan has one of the best innovation and creating capacities for cycling products in the world,” said Tsai, Taiwan's first female president, elected in May 2016. “Taiwan's bike price has been rising so gradually there is an image that our products equal quality.

“My government will continue to support the cycling industry. We've introduced a program to help introduce smart technologies into the manufacturing process. These smart services are the future,” Tsai added.

As the show officially opened, President Tsai's closing remarks focused on a positive future for the industry in Taiwan.

“Like the founder of Giant, King Liu, has said, we have to continue to proceed,” she said. “It's just like riding a bike — if you don't continue to step on the pedals, you will fall down.”

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