Taiwan has the potential to break new ground in the electric bicycle industry, according to a report by CNA.
After reaching the peak of the global electric bicycle industry in 2015, the famous "e-bike kingdom" of Taiwan was hit by the rise of the sharing economy and began freewheeling downhill. That is, until last year, when sales of electric bikes quickly pedaled upwards.
This reversal was not only due to new trends in sports vehicles—e-bikes have also eaten into the scooter market. This popularity, manifested through quantity reduction and price increase trends, has caused the overall bicycle industry's value to rebound.
Bicycles are increasingly becoming electrified, with innovations in drive systems, battery technology, and wireless connectivity. These all bring new opportunities to Taiwanese manufacturers in the IT supply chain, according to CNA.
Among next-generation industry trends, Taiwan's industry chain boasts highly flexible R&D and manufacturing advantages. It is expected that “blue oceans” (unexplored new market areas) will be created through digital transformation.
Wu I-Hsueh, senior commissioner of the Exhibition Business Office of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), said that it is almost impossible for any medium- to high-end bicycle not to contain Taiwan-manufactured components.
There are more than 800 registered companies in bicycle-related industries in Taiwan, including frame, chain, and light manufacturers. Among these, KMC Chain Industrial dominates the global bike chain market with a share of more than 80 percent.
Wu added that Taiwanese manufacturers demonstrate flexible productivity and are strong collaborators. At present, the most important need in the industry chain is to improve R&D and design capabilities and add value as the current wave of e-bikes is upgraded from generation to generation.
Traditional bicycles must screen out old ways of thinking and use the strengths of Taiwan's IT industry to give the industry a head start, he went on to say.
In contrast to the global consumer market’s drive towards small-scale and customized production models, Taiwan’s traditional bicycle manufacturing process is still highly dependent on technical manpower and faces problems such as mechanical faults and insufficient labor, according to the report.
In order to accelerate the industry’s transformation, the Bicycle AI Digital Transformation Alliance was officially established early October under the endorsement of the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Industrial Development Bureau along with the Institute for Information Industry (III) and the Industrial Technology Research Institute, China Times reported.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the output value of electric bikes broke a new record of over NT$10 billion (US$329 million) in 2018, an increase of 50.2% from the previous year.
The Bicycle and Health Technology Industry Research and Development Center stated that Taiwan is trusted by the European market for its high-quality products, and the EU's anti-dumping duties on China are also beneficial to Taiwanese manufacturers. As the US-China trade war heats up, bicycle giants Giant and Merida will return orders to Taiwan for production, Liberty Times reported.