European producers of electric bikes (e-bikes) have filed a complaint with the European Commission regarding Chinese e-bike makers. They accuse the Chinese exporters of selling their products at excessively low prices and harming European manufacturers by doing so.
Chinese e-bikes sell for prices as low as $450 in Europe, while e-bikes made in Europe generally cost $1,500 to $2,000.
The European Bicycle Manufacturers’ Association (EBMA) complains that the subsidies the Chinese government offers its e-bike companies gives those companies an unfair advantage over European e-bike manufacturers.
The e-bike craze in China had been steadily growing, and manufacturing kept up with the demand from Chinese consumers. But growth in that industry has slowed because of a boom in bike-sharing schemes and the fact that some cities have cracked down on electric bikes.
EBMA says the excess production is now being shipped to Europe, and that more than 430,000 Chinese e-bikes were sold in the EU in 2016, which marks a 40 percent increase over the previous year, and estimates that around 800,000 Chinese e-bikes will be sold in Europe in 2017. The imports will “annihilate European production within only a few years” if action is not taken, the organization says.
European companies developed the pedal-assist technology that e-bikes use and had invested about $1.2 billion in research and development efforts last year.
“Today the European bikes are the best in the world and we have to invest every year to renew the range, EBMA Secretary-General Moreno Fioravanti told Reuters. “The Chinese are getting money from the government and the subsidies have an impact of 30, 40, even 50 percent of the price of the product.”
The EBMA also cited a Chinese government economic planning document that “sets a clear 2020 goal that the ‘export of electric bicycles will be dramatically increased.’”
If the EC does choose to investigate the EBMA’s complaint, it would be the latest in a string of probes into Chinese exports. The investigation could raise tensions with China, especially if there is a subsidy inquiry into the subsidies provided by Beijing to Chinese manufacturers.
According to CNN Money, Chinese conventional bicycles have been subject to EU anti-dumping tariffs since the early 1990s.