27 Mar 2024

Cycling Industries Europe CEO Kevin Mayne and Jacques Lovell, CIE Industry Manager, attended the Taipei Cycle Show 2024, upon the kind invitation of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) and Bicycle Alliance for Sustainability (BAS).

The first thing we can say is that Taiwan is a fantastic destination not just for quality of the Taipei Cycle Show but for tourism! But the reason we were in Taiwan was to update members and industry experts about how EU policies are shaping cycling in Europe. We are immensely grateful for the invitation by TAITRA and BAS for this purpose, and all the more so because of the quality or the trade show and the valuable insights shared during numerous events organised around it. 

So, what we will remember from this trip and what can we bring back to Brussels to tell our EU counterparts? Here’s five key topics that were threaded through our week on the “Bicycle Island”.

  1. Market Fluctuations in Europe Rock the Taiwanese Ecosystem: Better Supply Chain Cooperation is a Must

If there is one question that everyone was asking behind the scenes in Taipei it was “what’s your view on the market?”

As vital component and parts suppliers, Taiwanese and other Asian suppliers are typically at the very start of the supply chain: they are left highly exposed to changes in demand and inventory over in Europe. Fluctuations in demand at the retail end of supply chain are increasingly amplified throughout the supply chain working upstream, particularly on components for mechanical bikes. While e-bike and allied components are less impacted, wild fluctuations are still apparent in this area too. If, or rather when, demand increases again in Europe, suppliers in Taiwan and Asia will remain equally vulnerable.

This phenomenon, that we described as the ‘bullwhip’ effect in our 2022 research study ‘Bridging the Gap’ to find out the root causes of the supply chain woes encountered by the industry during the Covid pandemic, remain visible. As such, the report’s recommendation to enhance industry collaboration and the mobilise of digital tools to streamline operations remains completely relevant.

We fully maintain our commitment, as an industry association, to improve transparency in global supply chains by using consistent and reliable data. Through our Market Intelligence and Impact Expert Group, we are striving to develop accurate, harmonised and actionable metrics that can be shared and used across the industry to stabilise supply chains.

  1. Time to Walk the Talk on Sustainability

The most visible topic on the Taipei agenda was sustainability, with no less than three significant events discussing the industry’s approach and a huge emphasis on sustainability around the booths in the show.

In particular the Taiwanese industry initiative “Bicycle Alliance for Sustainability” was threaded through the event, with many of the 70+ companies already signed up to the initiative carrying the logo on their booths and showing the carbon footprints of their products as part of their displays.

Kevin Mayne of CIE spoke at the Industry Forum and stressed the need for the many initiatives presented to work together at a global level so implementation costs of sustainability initiatives can be reduced, time providing information to partners is significantly reduced and the sector becomes fully transparent. If the cycling sector consistently shows its numbers cycling will always come out as the most sustainable choice in mobility and tourism.

It was very encouraging to take stock of the ambition and levels of commitments displayed by companies in the cycling ecosystem. But it also left us asking ourselves several questions about how to do it concretely, efficiently and intelligently. Shouldn’t we put the ‘what?’ – ambitions and targets – on an equal footing with the ‘how’?

Industry digitalisation and sharing data consistently and coherently across cycling supply chains are vital assets to turn the industry’s sustainability aspirations into a reality, as well as a remedy to the supply chain described above. The ‘product passport’ – that will need to be developed for e-bike batteries by 2027 under requirements the EU Battery Regulation – provides a tangible inroad into developing the type of ‘digital backbone this industry needs. We look forward to addressing this topic in more detail at Eurobike 2024.

  1. Start-up Innovation is Driving New Solutions for Industry Digitalisation and Circularity

Product priorities at Taipei Cycle remain firmly behind the growth of e-bikes, with almost every supplier having e-bikes or e-bike components. But in the wider ecosystem it is clear that digital products and services play an increasingly important role in the development of the industry.

A visit to the Taipei Cycle Show’s dedicated space for start-ups clearly showed that ‘Digital native’ companies are seeking to find the gaps and deliver solutions to facilitate and accelerate the industry’s shift towards more circularity and better supply chain management.

We were delighted to see our member NOCA mobility – who are building software solutions for supply chain collaboration in bicycle industry  - count among the featured start-ups in Taipei. Thanks to their involvement in our Cycling Innovation Network, NOCA learned about the possibility to have their expenses for the trip to Taiwan covered by the RESIST cascade fund, which they obtained successfully by submitting an application to the Pôle Véhicule du Futur mobility cluster organisation.

  1. EU Regulatory Confusion: Where do we Start?

Our international suppliers express ongoing confusion and worry about the growing range of EU regulations and information requirements coming their way. They are not alone!

What becomes clear in the meetings and discussions in Taiwan is that most companies know that EU legislation such as the EU Battery Regulation or the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive will be shaping the way they do business in the future, but few have the complete picture, or know which ones to prioritise for efficient compliance.

We heard of initiatives trying to address topics that may never come to the bike sector, while very short-term needs like the EU Batteries Regulation and the need to establish ‘product passports’ for e-bike batteries haven’t been communicated by some European customers to their suppliers.

That’s something CIE and our partners like CONEBI can clearly help by providing a forum for industry discussions on upcoming regulatory obligations and regular updates on EU-level legislative developments, which have become a staple on our Sustainability Expert Group agenda.

  1. Taiwanese Industry Organisation – Lessons for Europe

As a first-time visitor to the Taipei Cycle Show, what impressed CIE’s Industry Manager Jacques Lovell was how well organised the cycling industry is in Taiwan, particularly on developing and supporting the whole of their industrial base.

Jacques was particular impressed by how various industry and business support organisations mutually support each other with clear repartition of roles and objectives, from the business umbrella organisation TAITRA – that unlike European business support structures with a general remit, gives prominence to the cycling industry –, the pivotal role played by the Taiwan Bicycle Association to give the industry a unified voice on the island, and the capacity to develop ad-hoc initiatives such as the Bicycle Alliance for Sustainability to tackle decarbonisation.

Another one of the key players supporting the sector is the Cycling & Health Tech Industry R&D Center (CHC)which coordinates a wide range of initiatives for the sector including innovation, research, and prototyping. This cleverly matches government support for industrial innovation as well as industry needs. CHC is currently supporting the members of Bicycle Alliance for Sustainability in their strategies to measure and reduce carbon footprints.

With this experience CIE is delighted that CHC has decided to become an Associate Member of CIE, which allows us to partner them with EU companies and other research members of CIE such as Edinburgh Napier University and the Swedish Traffic Institute.

CIE also hopes to continue learning from its Taiwanese counterparts and partners and the recent affiliation of CHC will bring cooperation to a new level. And we hope that European industry partners will also take home a lesson from Taiwan: when industry gets organised to speak to governments, they are better equipped to grow, modernise and address common priorities.

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