The peak body of Taiwan’s bicycle industry has released full year trade data for 2015 during the annual Taipei Cycle show.
Apart from being very good at making bicycles, Taiwan can also be applauded for sharing trade data which affords bicycle industry watchers an uncommon level of detail about where bikes go after they leave the assembly line.
In conjunction with the Bureau of Foreign Trade, the Taiwan Bicycle Association (chaired by Tony Lo, president of Giant Manufacturing Co., Ltd) releases detailed trade figures on a monthly and annual basis. Disclosure of the latter usually coincides with the yearly Taipei Cycle show (which always directly precedes the Tour de Taiwan) in March.
The Taiwanese bicycle industry enjoyed its best years in the 1980’s (exports peaked at 10.74 million bicycles in 1987), when Taiwan was a protectionist, export-centric, ‘developing’ economy with a huge trade surplus and heavy reliance on US consumption.
The Merida factory in the 1970’s
When the Taiwanese Government, under pressure from the US, began loosening regulatory settings to allow the Taiwan Dollar (TWD) to quickly appreciate against the USD, it marked the end of a significant competitive advantage. This also coincided with China’s economic reforms, accelerating the drift of OEM business to the mainland (though many Taiwanese bicycle manufacturers subsequently captured higher-value OEM business by later setting up subsidiaries in China).
The island nation’s bicycle producers have since been focused on integrating innovation value, or ‘innovalue‘, into manufacturing operations to maintain Taiwan’s diminished but vital place in the global bicycle industry.
2015 TOP LINE FIGURES
In global production terms, Taiwan remains a minnow compared to China – the world’s most prolific manufacturer of bicycles. [China’s annual production figures for 2015 have not yet been released, but are likely to remain stable above 80 million units]
Taiwan’s 2015 bicycle exports rebounded 6.52% from the previous year to 3’994’788 units, with total production exceeding four million units once domestic consumption is also accounted for.
The average unit price (ASP) of bicycles exported from Taiwan continues its upward trajectory in line with the local industry’s added-value mission. ASP in 2015 was USD474; up from USD459 in 2014 and a 24.75% increase since 2011. It is a long way from the ASP’s of ~USD200 (in 2006) or ~USD40 (in 1986).
Road bikes accounted for 22.8% (911’000 units) of all exports, with mountain bikes representing 27.8% (1,114,000 units) of all bicycles shipped in 2015. The average unit price (ASP) for road bikes was USD715 and USD685 for mountain bikes.
Europe remains the largest export region – buying 55.15% of all exported bicycles. The US maintains its position as the biggest individual market for Taiwan’s bicycles, followed by the UK and the Netherlands. Exports to Italy jumped 96.53% year-on-year; the country is seen as a market with major potential, as noted in last month’s Market Talk.
If you take the export value (below) and divide it by the export volume (above) you get the average unit price (ASP). On average, bicycles exported to the US were USD705, while those to the UK were USD281.
Incidentally, the prize for highest ASP goes to Luxembourg. The micro nation with a population of half a million people only ordered 2’080 units, but the average price was a staggering USD1’711 – actually down 9.8% from the previous year’s ASP of USD1’897!
ONE-WAY TRADE, WITH ONE EXCEPTION
Taiwan is a considerable net exporter, shipping almost seven times as many bicycles as it imports. Over 98% of 2015 imports came from China (588’666 units), with Cambodia (2’939 units) and Vietnam (2’913 units) the next largest suppliers to Taiwan. The bikes imported from China are predominantly cheap runabouts, with ASP of USD50.
Consequently, reciprocal trade with other large export markets is negligible. Europe shipped 1’498 units (ASP of USD918) to Taiwan and the USA delivered a mere 36 units (ASP of USD1’857). A very small number of Taiwanese consumers exhibited a taste for expensive French and Italian bikes – all 64 units imported from those countries had ASP’s exceeding USD3’000.
Finally (for now), it seemed like a fun exercise to scrape data from the TBA’s PDF report and make some graphs which reflected exports by UCI continent. Apart from seeing how many Taiwanese-made bicycles are exported to each region per month, we can see the ASP for the same period.
Consumers in Australia and New Zealand will note the ASP picks up in July and peaks in January the following year. This accurately reflects the fact that expensive bikes in a new model year are often delivered much later in the season, as importers rush to get lower-priced, higher-volume, bikes to the market first. Click here for a larger version.