Electric motorcycle makers drive overseas

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Employees assemble an electric tricycle at a factory in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, on Jan 26. CHINA DAILY

WUXI — An electric motorcycle manufacturer in Wuxi, East China”s Jiangsu province, has found instant popularity online after its electric tricycle became the talk of a US town recently.

Wu Bo ordered the tricycle online in December as a Christmas gift for her father-in-law in the city of Dearborn, Michigan.

The $600 electric vehicle, with its zippy maneuverability and an open cargo bed, soon captured the attention of the neighborhood, enticing local residents to take it for a test ride.

“This is beyond our expectations, knowing that our product has brought so much fun to a US family,” said Qin Xiaoming, a manager with Jiangsu Guowei Motorcycle.

“I guess they’d never seen this stuff before,” he said. “It’s easy to drive. It can carry cargo and people, and it requires no gasoline at all. These features have combined to make them excited.”

The tricycle’s popularity jumped after Wu recorded footage of the ensuing joy ride and shared it across various social media platforms in China.

The viral videos have amassed tens of millions of views and resonated with netizens, prompting enthusiastic suggestions for overseas business expansion.

“What good fortune it is for Guowei! They definitely must cash in on it,” commented an internet user with the handle Wenzhongzhou.

The manufacturer became keenly aware of the vast opportunities made possible on a global scale by this sudden surge in popularity. In fact, according to Ni Xiaofeng, general manager of Guowei, the number of online orders from the US has nearly tripled since January.

“Those videos gave us lots of confidence. We can see huge potential ahead, because two and three-wheeled electric motorcycles will remain a low-carbon option for short-distance commuting in the foreseeable future,” he said.

Ni revealed that the 23-year-old company, based in Wuxi’s Xishan district, strategized overseas plans more than a decade ago and has established solid sales networks in more than 80 countries and regions.

Guowei is a constant participant in domestic and global industrial exhibitions and trade fairs.

The company’s next step is to enhance its localization efforts, including building factories overseas and studying the safety and quality regulations of targeted markets, he added.

The viral tricycle videos again underscore the importance of social media, said Fang Guoming, a manager with the Wuxi Sunlike Import and Export Co. “As a professional in this industry, I suggest you never underestimate the significant role that social media plays.”

Dubbed the Chinese capital of electric motorcycles, Xishan is home to tens of thousands of electric motorcycle makers. Official figures show that more than 22 million EM units rolled off the line here in 2022, accounting for around one-third of the nation’s annual output and generating some 66 billion yuan ($9.2 billion) in revenue.

More local players have responded to the nation’s call of “going out “in recent years, said Shen Yu, secretary-general of the Xishan District Electric Vehicle Foreign Trade Association.

Shen estimates that the national average growth of EM exports in 2023 reached 20 percent despite a sluggish global economy.

In Xishan alone, more than 160 motorcycle makers are exporting their products and opening brand stores in over 140 countries and regions, he added.

Among them is Ishtiaq Ahmed, an EM enthusiast and entrepreneur from Bangladesh. Ahmed, who was previously working with a large EM enterprise, is now harnessing China’s expertise to create his own brand.

“Based on my couple of years of experience in this industry, I would say that China is dominating this industry pretty well due to its great supply chain and affordable prices,” he said.

Ahmed said his team plans to locate the business in the Czech Republic, the most competitive region in Europe for a majority of businesses, to provide excellent after-sales support.

Yan Weijue in Wuxi contributed to this story.

China Daily

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