HONG KONG, China – Is it because of big ambitions on rising exports of e-bikes to Europe? Fact is that the Chinese government wants all e-bikes made in the country to meet EU standards as from June 1, 2011.
The end of May announced government plans are about phasing out e-bikes that exceed speed and weight limits published 12 years ago. These standards state that e-bikes can weigh no more than 40 kg and cannot go faster than 20 km (12.4 miles) per hour. However, the bulk of the estimated 120 million e-bikes in China have designed capacity of 30-40 kph and typically carry four batteries, which by themselves weigh at least 16-28 kg.
Factories whose products do not meet the standards would be asked to close, while owners of e-bikes would generally be asked to stop using e-bikes that do not meet the standards. The government plans stirred widespread fears that more than 2,000 e-bike factories would close, affecting millions of users.
The statement did not provide a timeframe for phasing out the existing e-bikes or for plant closures but said local authorities could set their own deadlines. It also did not say how it would enforce the phase-out or what penalties, if any, would be imposed on those who continue to use the sub-standard bikes.
That China is looking for adaptation of the EU standards for e-bikes, as laid down in the EN 15194 regulations for EPACs, Electrically Power Assisted Cycles, comes after an appeal made by Klaus Ziegler, Chief Representative of CEN in China at a seminar organized by the China Bicycle Association about one year ago. Here Ziegler clarified the European standardisation process and emphasized the importance for China to become actively involved in this work.
The production of electric bicycles in China stood at 27 million units in 2010. E-bike export from January to August 2010 reached 580,000 units and the total export number for the whole of 2010 is estimated at 700,000 units; up 79.5% on the 2009 figure when the e-bike export totaled 390,000 units.
These export numbers from China reflect complete electric bikes. The parts that are shipped from China and built into bikes at EU factories do not appear in this data. But most of the components, including frames, do come from China.
Accounting for 70% of China’s e-bike export, Europe has been the most important export market for Chinese manufacturers. 60% of the e-bikes in EU market today come from China. And not all of them are low-end e-bikes equipped with speed sensor for supermarkets and sports chain stores.
Bike manufacturers like JD components and Wettsen are successful producing high-end e-bikes and providing technical support for renowned EU brands. Component manufacturers like Bafang motor and Kingmeter display are not only exporting through Chinese OEMs but directly by themselves. In 2010, Bafang exported 400,000 hub motors to Europe.