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2016 Shanghai Show: Chinese E-Bike Makers Turn to Europe

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SHANGHAI, China – The strong focus on Europe with European styled e-bikes was striking when visiting the booths of Aima, Tianjin Golden Wheel or Battle at the 26th International Bicycle Fair in Shanghai. The show that after 4 consumer days closed its doors earlier today indicated that these multi-million electric bike makers are now shifting their focus to Europe as their business in China is hampered by e-bike bans in the biggest cities and as their home market gets saturated.

2016 Shanghai Show: Chinese E-Bike Makers Turn to Europe
AIMA, a multi-million e-bike maker in China’s, sells such Shimano STEPS equipped e-bikes for about 1,000 USD. – Photo Bike Europe

The 26th International Bicycle Fair (Motorcycles are no longer mentioned in the official title of the show) is a consumer show. However, the look and feel of the Shanghai Show is like a trade fair. Not only because test tracks that were still there last year and for which the huge showground provides ample space, were banned this year.

Also the e-bikes displayed by the already mentioned biggest Chinese makers are unlike the ones sold in China. Such scooter-like e-bikes where hardly presented. What was there were European city bike styled e-bikes or e-MTB’s; almost all fitted with Shimano’s STEPS or Bafang’s Max Drive mid-motors.

Prices for 25/km e-bikes and e-MTBs

The electric bikes on display at Aima, Tianjin Golden Wheel, Battle, Phoenix and by other majors from China showed that they all do where the Chinese are renowned for; making copies of what others present. The city styled 25km/h – 250W e-bikes that come with Nexus 7 or 8 or the e-MTBs (in a somewhat lesser sophisticated look and spec) are all in Europe sellable products. Price wise such a city styled 25km/h – 250W e-bike is offered with Bafang Max Drive system for about 750 USD (€ 660) and with STEPS (complete system including Nexus 8) for about 1,000 USD (€ 880).

‘Getting on top of the world’

Is the Chinese industry with such prices able to, “Get on top of the world in no time,” as China Bicycle Association (CBA) Vice Chairman Lu Jinlong said in a phone interview with Sixth Tone; a popular news site in China? The CBA official said that in a comment on the current e-bike bans in the big Chinese cities and his view on how the industry is to react on that.

Whether the Chinese e-bike makers will get on top of the European e-bike market remains the question. But fact is that with 24.5 million new e-bikes sold in 2014 the Chinese e-bike market shrank for the first time ending 16 years of robust growth and 200 million e-bikes on Chinese roads.

Signs of saturation

The 16 years of e-bike growth in China made that the value of the entire upstream and downstream industry chain has reached CNY 200 billion (€ 28 billion). With the current signs of saturation and with the bans on e-bike use in the biggest cities of China that multi-billion industry is now turning to Europe.

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