Indian bicycles no match for Chinese high-end bikes

Industry needs tech boost to push exports to Europe, US

Indian bicycles no match for Chinese high-end bikes

Bicycle exports have witnessed a sharp decline in the past few years. Tribune photo

Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service
Ludhiana, January 7

India, though the second largest nation to manufacture bicycles after China, has failed to compete with the Red Dragon in the export of hi-end bicycles. Exports of bicycles have witnessed a sharp decline in the past few years.

While India manufactures 1.72 crore bicycles annually, China is far ahead with the production of more than 22 crore bicycles per year. In fact, India had got an opportunity to boost exports when there was a trade war between China and the US, but because of lack of infrastructure and weak technology, India could not grab it.

Talking to The Tribune, Gurmeet Singh Kular, FICO president, said the Indian manufacturers could not manufacture hi-end bicycles, which were much in demand in European countries and the US. “The raw material is expensive and we are not that upgraded to meet their demands. We can manufacture standard cycles but hi-end light weight bicycles are not our cup of tea. The prices of such bicycles start from Rs 1 lakh,” said Kular.

Sources said instead of thinking on a healthy competition with China to get good returns, many manufacturers have started importing bicycles from China through countries such as Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Bangladesh, where there is no duty on bicycles, and from there, these are exported to other countries.

“This kind of trade is okay if one wants to earn a few bucks. But we are the second largest manufacturer. We should fight to bring new technology and think of competing with China to grow in real sense,” said another manufacturer, wishing not to be quoted.

Manjinder Singh Sachdeva, another manufacturer in the city, said only recently, the Bicycle Development Council came into existence. It is a platform where issues related to trade can be discussed and solutions found. One of the members of the council, Sachdeva said in the European countries, India was not allowed to put up stalls simply because it did not manufacture hi-end cycles, which were required in the European market. “But after giving them demonstrations, showing our latest products, we were given space to be part of the exhibitions,” said Sachdeva.

The local manufacturers said they were not getting any support from the government to flourish in the sector. Had they been provided with cheap raw material and given schemes for technology upgrade, things would have been much better and the bicycle industry would have witnessed growth.

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