Taiwan and EU pick up slack as China’s e-Bike exports to Europe slump

Taiwan has added over 80% more e-bike exports in to the EU over the prior year’s figures, new data has revealed.

The uptick in trade comes much thanks to a diversion of production from China prompted by anti-dumping duties on exports. China recorded just a sixth of its prior business, slumping from 660,000 electric bikes shipped to just 107,000.

As a result, overall imports shrank by around 30%, receding from over a million to 750,000 units shipped. Many companies have begun to assess whether they can operate profitably with production closer to home, for example, the UK’s Volt Bikes.

In total, the top ten Asian exporters scooped up 37.7% (208,493) of China’s lost exports, suggesting that European businesses have indeed brought supply closer to home. Demand for e-Bikes has not slowed for the most part, though has been lacklustre in the UK when compared to pedal powered sales during lockdown; something largely attributed to price point.

Taiwan recorded sales of 338,570, while Vietnam the second largest exporter of e-Bikes in to the EU, remained flat, up just 1.1% to a shade under 155,000. Vietnamese trade is however expected to accelerate in the near future in tandem with the ratification of a free trade agreement with the EU.

Where has China’s e-Bike trade gone? 

Malaysia has joined the top ten exporters in to the EU, reaching 11,000 units from a near standing start; it now sits eight on the table of Far Eastern territories exporting to Europe.

Exports from Indonesia, on 9, remained relatively low at around 3,500, a result similar to that of the Cambodian export, which pushed the country from 7th to 9th position.

Thailand booked a “modest” increase of just under 40% to a total of almost 16,000 and remained in 5th position.

Turkey, in a customs union with the EU, managed only to a limited extent to benefit from the measures taken against China; it imported around 13,000 bikes, which was almost 5.5 times more than in 2018.

Cambodia and Switzerland see big value

Switzerland is the country in the top 10 that has the most expensive e-bike exports to the European Union. Their average value was €1,714, that is a 7.5% increase.

Surprisingly, in second place is Cambodia with €1,129, almost double the value of 2018. In third place comes Taiwan, which only marginally increased its average value with 5.5% to €1,055.

The average value of imports from Thailand, Turkey and Indonesia all decreased with percentages under 10 and ended up anywhere between €500 and €660.

Remarkably enough, the average value of e-bike exports from Japan only reached €483, very close to the average Chinese value in 2018 of €443.

In conclusion, the average value of the total European import increased with 38.7% to €836.

Chinese firms move operations

As is very often the case when tariffs reduce the viability of shipping between countries, production has moved from China in many instances, very often just over the water to neighbouring Taiwan. This, says LEVA-EU, in part explains Taiwan’s rapid shift of gear.

“If there would have been dumping at a scale as argued by EBMA and endorsed by the Commission, then these accused Chinese assemblers would have dragged the average Taiwanese value down. The fact that the opposite has happened is quite telling,” said LEVA in a statement issued today.

LEVA-EU previously fought a case against the dumping duty investigation that came about at the request of the European Bicycle Manufacturer’s Association.

Anti-dumping and countervailing duties now weigh in at almost 80%, making mid-to-high-end e-Bikes as good as unsalable in Europe for Chinese businesses. With that, the average value of an e-Bike shipped from China has plummeted 42% to €258.

EU Exports

Last year, the EU has exported 138,000 e-bikes, a modest growth of almost 16%. The three main customers are Switzerland, Norway and the US. The average value, which was already high in 2018, increased with another 2.7% to € 1,587. The total value of European exported e-bikes was € 219 million, an increase of 19%. That is still about 3 times less than the total import value, which ended up at € 629 million in 2019, almost 4% less than in 2018.

All figures mentioned here relate to e-Bikes with a power up to 25km/h, as is the legal limit across much of Europe.