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LEDs brighten otherwise lackluster year for Taiwan exports

Published March 18, 2015
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou touted the island’s bike manufacturing prowess at Taipei Cycle’s opening ceremony Wednesday.

TAIPEI, Taiwan (BRAIN) — While exports of Taiwan-made bicycles took a minor dip in 2014, the export of LED cycling lights registered a 41 percent increase as cyclists paid more attention to their safety, according to government data released at the opening of Taipei Cycle on Wednesday.

Cyclists, particularly in Europe, are replacing old halogen-style lights with more modern and efficient LED units. And Taiwan, a leading producer of LED products, leveraged its extensive supply chain to produce high-value products that could compete with China.

But a 2 percent decrease in bicycle exports last year to 3.75 million units, while appearing to be a minor blip in production, indicates a global economy still under stress, particularly in Europe, and a sharp decline in demand from China for Taiwan’s more expensive bikes, Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs reported.

Adding to the lackluster report was a slight decrease in the overall value of Taiwan’s bicycle exports from $1.725 billion in 2013 to $1.721 billion last year — a 0.19 percent decrease. For Taiwan manufacturers supplying bikes to the U.S. market, the numbers were worse, posting a 6.4 percent drop to 596,000 units last year compared with 2013. And the export value of those bikes also posted a slight decrease — about 0.6 percent — reversing what had been a steady uptick in unit value.

As for Europe, Taiwan’s largest market, manufacturers sold 2.1 million units including 58,000 electric bikes. Those e-bike sales jumped 87.2 percent compared with 2013. China remains the largest manufacturer and exporter of electric bikes to Europe. 

Driving the drop in overall exports was a rapid fall-off in demand for high-end Taiwanese bikes sold in China as the mainland’s economy retrenched, credit tightened and growth slowed. In 2013, Taiwan exported 250,316 high-value models to China; that plunged last year to 136,845 units — a 46.3 percent decrease. 

Despite a significant decrease in units, the overall value of bikes sold to Chinese consumers dropped only 8.4 percent to $78 million, as the average selling price per unit rose 67.5 percent to $569.

At Taipei Cycle’s opening ceremonies Wednesday, speakers appeared unbowed by the stagnant numbers.

Tony Lo, CEO of Giant and chairman of the Taiwan Bicycle Association, highlighted that the average value of complete bikes was up last year — rising 1.85 percent to $459 — and that Taiwan continues to export almost 4 million bikes per year.

“We continue to make Taiwan a platform for high-quality products,” he said.

Lo also noted that Taipei Cycle will move up two weeks on the calendar next year, starting March 2, to better link with the Velo-city conference, which comes to Taipei in 2016.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to see Taiwan’s strength in the bike industry,” he said.

Attendees at Wednesday’s opening ceremony had to go through enhanced security — including a metal detector — ahead of an address by Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, who noted that Taipei Cycle and sister show TaiSPO (the Taipei International Sporting Goods Show, which runs concurrently with Taipei Cycle) represent “one of the most important purchase platforms in the world.”

And the rising unit value of Taiwan-produced bikes illustrates that “you can now say Taiwan’s bikes have become a high-end product,” he said.


Topics associated with this article: Tradeshows and conferences, Taipei Cycle Show

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