<b>Mexico 2010:</b> Bicycle Industry Loses Home Market to Chinese Suppliers
In Latin America, Mexico City has the largest road network dedicated to motor vehicles, stretching out over 64,000 kilometres. But only 30 kilometres is reserved for cyclists, despite 25.2% of all daily trips in this city being made by foot, or on a bike. These figures were recently published by the Urban Mobility Observatory for Latin America in a comparison of cities in the region. The lack of cycling infrastructure makes it a difficult job for advocacy groups to get more people cycling more often.
MEXICO CITY, Mexico – In Latin America, Mexico City has the largest road network dedicated to motor vehicles, stretching out over 64,000 kilometres. But only 30 kilometres is reserved for cyclists, despite 25.2% of all daily trips in this city being made by foot, or on a bike. These figures were recently published by the Urban Mobility Observatory for Latin America in a comparison of cities in the region. The lack of cycling infrastructure makes it a difficult job for advocacy groups to get more people cycling more often.
The National Association of Manufacturers of Bicycles (ANAFABI) comprises 85% of the Mexican producers and according to the association, they employ about 4,000 people. ANAFABI reports decreasing production in recent years. In 2009 local production dropped below the two million unit mark.
“The industry has been beaten really badly”, said Javier Alamillo, president of the ANAFABI, in an interview with newspaper Excelsior. “The bicycle factories are in serious trouble and domestic production has been falling year after year. In the past four years, bicycle production in Mexico fell by 33 percent. In 2006 we still produced and marketed 2,843,000 units in this country. The total market including imports accounted for some 3 million bicycles. Three years later, the production figure had dropped to only 1,931,000 bicycles while the market volume remained the same. Last years closure of the nearly fifty year-old Windsor factory was a good indication of how fierce competition is at the moment. No matter how old or established your brand or company is, you have to update your products and your marketing system.”
According to members of ANAFABI the reasons for this declining market are sedentary lifestyles, the introduction of cheap Chinese products, but above all, road safety concerns and the promotion of recreational cycling, not as a means of transport.
“All the cycling promotion is aimed at the recreational rides on Sunday. What we should do and not only in Mexico but worldwide, is to put the bicycle in the spotlight as a means of transportation”, Alamillo said.
In Mexico the average price of bicycle is 800 pesos (€50). Bikes for young people sell for between 500 and 700 pesos (€30 – €40) on average, while most kid’s bikes cost between 200 and 400 pesos (Є15 – €25). No wonder that the bicycles made in the US are not very popular in this country even though they are imported tax free because of the NATFA (North American Free Trade Agreement). United States-produced bicycles are still very costly for the average Mexican and are only affordable for the happy few.
The peak season for bicycles and accessories in Mexico starts in September and runs until January. In the Bajio region, as well as in south eastern Mexico, the bicycle is most popular for transportation purposes. Nevertheless, cities remain the most important market and the total number of bicycles in Mexico is estimated at 20 million units on a population of 111 million people.
One of Mexico’s most famous bicycle manufacturer originates from Italy. In 1931 former professional Italian road racer Benotto Giacinto founded his own factory and created his own label in Torino, Italy. Two decades later Benotto Giacinto moved his company to Mexico. At first he went to Guadalajara and founded the brand Condor, his first bicycle factory in Mexico. In 1958 he moved to Mexico City and created the brand Benotto. In 1970 he founded the company Benotto Bicycle Distribuidora, SA de CV. Today Benotto is synonymous with cycling in Mexico and produces 380,000 bicycles per year at its plant in Mexico. Benotto offers a product line of 120 models ranging between 600 to 20,000 pesos (€35– €1150). As well as the factory, the company also runs 19 stores across Mexico and operates a distribution centre for its bikes and wide range of agencies in Guadalajara and in Merida. Benotto is the Mexican distributor of Bell helmets and Michelin bicycle tires, among others. Most accessories are imported as Mexico has lost more than 90% of its bicycle accessory industry in the past decades. Besides Benotto other bicycle factories in Mexico are Cinelli, Bimex, Ozeki, Magistroni, and Turbo. According to ANAFABI the bicycle industry generates just three thousand jobs directly and indirectly.
One of the major national problems faced by the bicycle industry is theft. The industry has asked the Government to help them fight bicycle theft as these stolen bikes are distributed via the black market and the industry has to compete with stolen products which are dumped on the market for very low prices.
In Mexico a kid’s bike is a very common gift at birthdays, New Years Day, or at a Christian holiday, as it is often cheaper than a toy with electronic features. However the local industry is not benefiting anymore as most kids’ bikes are imported from China and cost less than 500 pesos (€30).
“There’s still a lot of demand for bicycles because it is the popular transport of the working class and peasants,” says Adam Gomez Ortega, managing director of Bicimaya, provider of the Jaguar brand. Merida-based Bicimaya is a leading manufacturer and supplier of bicycles in the Yucatan Peninsula and a part of the Southeast of Mexico.
Not surprisingly two important sales arguments for bikes in Mexico are the low maintenance costs and money savings over public transport. On the Mexican market transportation is the main segment in the market, followed by recreation and sports, while 70% of all bikes are sold to men. Health and environmental awareness creates additional demand for the recreation and sports bikes necessary to provide some growth in the bicycle market.
Bike Rental System Launched in Mexico City
EcoBici is the new transportation system in Mexico City serving the districts of Cuauhtémoc, Juárez, Roma Norte, Hippodrome Countess and Countess. Some 1,114 bicycles can be rented at the 86 stations throughout the city. These “Cicloestación” are situated within 300 meters of each other and are located at strategic points. Ecobici began operation last February and its popularity forced the authorities to quickly initiate the second phase, which was scheduled for 2011. In addition to expanding the EcoBici service within the historic city centre, the museum area will be also included.
Members of ANAFABI
The mission of the Mexican National Association of Bicycle Manufacturers ANAFABI is to promote the development and global competitiveness of the Mexican bicycle industry in terms of a comprehensive cooperation supported that strengthen the business relationships both domestically and international. The members of the ANAFABI are:
- Bicicletas Cinelli
- Distribuidora de Bicicletas Benotto
- Bicicletas Ozeki
- Grupo Oriental
- Bicileyca Rebimo de Guadalajara
- Grupo Empresarial Nahel
- Bicicletas Mercurio
- Motos y Bicicletas Goray
- Bicicletas de Mexico
- Grupo Comercial Sol
- Bicicletas Veloci