The US isn’t alone in waging a trade war with China that affects the price of imported electric bicycles. Not only has the EU also imposed a series of duties on imported Chinese e-bikes, but their duties dwarf those imposed by the US. With a new round of duties reaching as high as 79.3%, electric bicycle prices in Europe are expected to increase sharply.

EU imposes steep duties on Chinese e-bike imports

Most electric bicycle exporters in China will be hit with a 79.3% duty. That’s significantly larger than was expected by many in the industry.

However, a number of specific exporters will receive reduced duties.

Bodo Vehicle Group will be hit with a 73.4% duty.

Yadea Technology group will receive a reduced 62.9% duty.

And Giant, one of the more popular bicycle makers, will receive a significantly lower 24.6% duty.

The duties were levied after an extensive investigation that sampled over 70 electric bicycle exporters in China. The companies voluntarily provided information to the European Commission in an effort to demonstrate that they were not engaging in dumping practices. The companies who voluntarily engaged in the study represented 43% of all Chinese e-bike exports to the EU.

Companies that cooperated with the investigation ultimately received lower duties than those who refused to cooperate.

The European Commission’s investigation also received input directly from the Chinese government as well as other trade and manufacturing associations within China.

Through the course of the investigation, it was discovered that a number of Chinese manufacturers were receiving government benefits including preferential lending, preferential financing, and provision of bicycles and components at preferential costs.

Bafang was the only electric bicycle parts distributor to participate in the European Commission’s investigation. According to the European Commission’s report, Bafang provided unfairly reduced prices for certain Chinese electric bicycle manufacturers.

Throughout the process of the investigation, European electric bicycle manufacturers pushed for steep tariffs to help protect the local electric bicycle industry. Such EU manufacturers claimed that China’s policy of dumping electric bicycles in Europe significantly harmed local manufacturers. The European Commission ultimately supported those claims.

The Trump Administration also imposed tariffs last year on Chinese electric bicycles imported to the US. Those tariffs were set at a much lower rate of 25%. Despite the tariffs, imported Chinese e-bikes have remained ultra affordable, with a number of popular models still available for under $500.

Electrek’s Take

I can honestly understand both sides of this argument.

On the one hand, China has the resources, cheap labor and decades of manufacturing experience to build inexpensive electric bicycles that European manufacturers can’t compete with. And those electric bicycles are certainly a benefit to European consumers, who can more easily afford the imported electric bicycles, reaping the lifestyle benefits of e-bikes.

However, the European Commission found that Chinese companies were receiving unfair advantages from a number of sources, helping them produce unrealistically cheap e-bikes that threatened local European manufacturers.

While the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration in the US are widely seen as detrimental to everybody due to the lack of a substantial US e-bike manufacturing industry to protect, there does exist a significant e-bike industry to protect in Europe. Thus, the European scenario is not nearly as black and white. And while some will cry “protectionism!” while others shout “fair trade!”, the matter ultimately comes down to which group is more important to consider, European consumers or European manufacturers?

Anyway you slice it, duties as high as 80% in Europe are absolutely going to sting for consumers and will almost certainly curtail the rapid growth and adoption of e-bikes in Europe. With prices expected to rise significantly, time will tell if Europeans are still prepared to pay the big bucks for electric bicycles.

What do you think about the new duties imposed on Chinese e-bikes imported to the EU? Let us know in the comments below!


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