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E-bike chatter dominates Taipei Cycle show

Published November 1, 2018

TAIPEI, Taiwan (BRAIN) — E-bikes and their future in the global marketplace is dominating most discussions at Taipei Cycle as suppliers and government officials look to the future.

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Top among them are targeted seminars on Europe's anti-dumping actions on Chinese-made e-bikes, e-bike regulations in the U.S., as well as ongoing concerns over the Trump administration's 25 percent tariff on e-bikes from China.

Trade show organizers are also sponsoring a series of ongoing seminars, staged in the main hallway on the fourth floor, which draws daily crowds as speakers and companies present various e-bike designs.

And there's a growing interest in the future of e-cargo bikes, especially as companies like UPS, FedEx, DHL and others begin to use them in highly congested downtown areas. It's a segment far removed from mainstream manufacturing. That could change as the market expands.

Another area of potential e-bike and cargo-bike growth is their use at sprawling factories and facilities such as airports and fairgrounds to efficiently move people and cargo around.

But while the general attitude is upbeat about the category's future, Hannes Neupert worries about other factors that could slow future growth. Neupert is executive director of EnergyBus e.V

Among them, especially in Europe, would be requirements that e-bike riders carry accident insurance, that riders have valid operating licenses, be of a certain age, and be required to wear helmets. Another factor is the lack of an international definition of what constitutes an e-bike or pedelec.

"These laws and rules could damage growth," he said. Neupert, who built a solar-powered e-bike in 1982, also worries about manufactured obsolescence — that factory owners view e-bikes as products to be replaced every five years or so without planning for spare parts. "This is totally unacceptable," he said.

Nonetheless, Neupert added, there will be major changes in e-bike manufacturing. Consider injection-molded frames: They will be lighter, easy to recycle and be cost-efficient, he said. "But it will be difficult," Neupert added.

Hans Goes, a management consultant at Q Square Consultants, pointed out that few consumers use their cars or other vehicles to their full capacity. And, he added, 75 percent of global transportation is done in privately owned vehicles. "Too many people own too many vehicles," Goes said.

Goes also pointed out that in today's consumer market are a growing number of subscription-based business models — think Netflix — as consumers move away from owning products like e-bikes.

Other factors that will spur growth in the market is the rapid deployment of 5G technology, a focus on the so-called "Internet of Things," and a trend toward embedding computing technology in everyday items like e-bikes.

Other developments in technology like artificial intelligence, big data analysis, and block chain security will factor into e-bikes. "These will profoundly change the way we coordinate mobility and how we will create new forms of mobility," Goes said.

 

Topics associated with this article: Electric bike, Taipei Cycle Show

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