NIU, one of the most popular electric scooter manufacturers in China, is preparing to begin sales in the US. But the highly anticipated US debut will feature higher prices than originally expected due to import tariffs imposed by the Trump administration.
Trump tariffs to affect NIU electric scooter pricing
NIU’s electric scooters have won praise across Asia and Europe for their quality designs and high tech features.
Americans have been waiting for years now for NIU to begin operations in the US, and that date is quickly approaching.
NIU has already received DOT approval for four models of its scooters and will have them available for sale in the US by the end of Q3 this year.
But a new statement from NIU’s CEO Li Yan has now shed light on how the Trump administration’s hefty 25% tariffs will affect NIU’s retail strategy in the US. And the outlook isn’t rosy.
Yan appears to indicate that the higher cost of NIU’s electric scooters, caused by the Trump tariffs, will be passed on to customers, according to the South China Morning Post:
“Our clients in the US have to bear the losses. I definitely hope the tariffs will be cut.”
While this shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, there was at least some hope that the company would be able to absorb part of the cost of the tariffs.
In Europe, NIU’s scooters are priced in the neighborhood of $2,500-$4,500 depending on the model. Exact prices for the US market have yet to be publicly announced.
The Trump administration’s growing trade war with China has already had a significant negative impact on the two-wheeled electric vehicle industry in the US.
Electric bicycles were one of the first casualties of the trade war when an early-round of 25% tariffs hit e-bikes.
Despite a significant effort by private citizens and the bicycle industry in the US, the 25% tariffs were still instated last year.
Some manufacturers, such as Rad Power Bikes, first increased prices due to the tariffs but then returned prices to pre-tariff levels, ultimately deciding to absorb the impact themselves. Other smaller companies were unable to sustain the losses and increased financial pressure of the tariffs and were forced to pass along the cost to consumers in the form of higher retail prices.
While many of the electric bicycles affected by the Trump administration’s tariffs cost between $500-$1,500, NIU’s electric scooters could be priced anywhere from 2-3x as much in the US.
NIU’s electric scooters actually already have a presence in the US but aren’t yet available for retail sales. The NIU scooters already in the US are being used by Revel, an electric scooter sharing service based in NYC.
The 1,000 electric scooters in the Revel program are the NIU N-sharing model. NIU’s similarly-styled NGT is their latest model and features both a high powered mid-drive motor and 4.2 kWh of battery. The NGT can actually reach speeds of around 43 mph (70 km/h), but the N-sharing models are speed limited to just 30 mph (48 km/h) as part of Revel’s program.
I see this as both a bummer and also encouraging at the same time.
One the one hand, the increased price is a huge letdown. But you can’t really blame NIU here. This is the Trump administration deciding that Americans should pay more for sustainable vehicles. That fact is made even worse when considering that Trump has consistently displayed a lack of understanding of who actually pays for Tariffs, incorrectly believing that it is Chinese exporters who pay the tariffs, as opposed to the US companies who actually pay the tariffs when importing the products (and then ultimately the US consumer who pays a higher retail price).
Yes, I know that there is an argument to be made that the tariffs are designed to encourage local manufacturing. And there actually is a company that produces a US-made electric scooter, the GenZe 2.0. And that’s an awesome scooter that I commuted on for nearly a year. But at a time when combatting climate change is finally starting to receive the attention and action it deserves, the last thing we should be doing is making it harder to afford vehicles that can make a huge improvement for our planet.
On the other hand, I see this as encouraging because it at least shows that NIU is still on track to begin retail sales in the US. Americans have been waiting for this for years. NIU makes some really awesome scooters and I can’t wait to finally get on an NGT, for which I’ve been a (relatively) patient reservation holder.
So let’s bring on the NIU scooters and hope that Trump finally gets some sense knocked into him about these ridiculous tariffs. Or that Chinese president Xi Jinping randomly says something nice about Trump to stroke his ego, causing him to change course. Whatever it takes, just do the right thing to make these sustainable vehicles more affordable to American consumers.
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